When Issac Shulman helped open Dr. Bo’s Diet in Manhasset last July, he brought with him more than his experience running the weight-loss center’s office in Hewlett.
Shulman also brought the experience of being a client.
Shulman, a Hewlett native living in Florida, was struggling with his weight five years ago when a cousin told him about the weight-loss program founded and developed by physician Dr. Bo Rosenblat.
Shulman said he entered the program and lost 32 pounds in the first 40 days, and decided to rededicate his life to becoming a nutritionist
Shulman, who lost an additional 15 pounds while on the program, then moved back to New York, earned his Bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Queens College and interned at Dr. Bo’s initial New York location in Hewlett.
“I told Dr. Bo I wanted to work for him,” Shulman said. “I started as a patient, then I went to work for him.”
Today, Shulman is the director of both Dr. Bo’s Diet locations in New York, splitting time between the program’s Hewlett office and the one that opened at 800 Community Drive in Manhasset.
“The actual building [in Manhasset] is right off the L.I.E. to place us right in the middle of the Queens-Long Island part of the North Shore, and we serve people from all over the area” Shulman said. “We also found through test trials that it’s far enough away from our Hewlett location that we’re not cannibalizing our patients on the South Shore. We’ve found that our patients on the North Shore don’t necessarily like traveling all the way to the South Shore, and vice versa.”
The program contains five phases designed to help patients lose weight and meet regularly with the practice’s doctors and mentors to keep the weight off for up to a full year.
“Our program helps patients live life,” Shulman said. “You’re not supposed to diet forever. [On Dr. Bo’s Diet] You eat real food, so we never advocate shakes, bars or liquid meals. Those things are good for short-term impact weight loss, but don’t help you keep the weight off.”
Shulman said the program takes a four-pronged nutritional approach that is individualized for patients: the targeting of what foods should be consumed, what kinds of portions can be consumed, how foods can be prepared and the schedule of two-hour windows during which a patient can eat.
“We don’t necessarily think there’s a bad type of food or a bad method of preparation, there’s only bad portion of these things, so to have these starch carbohydrates or starches or fats are all important parts of a well-balanced diet. It’s having too much of these things that we get into trouble.”
Prior to starting the program, patients undergo a 90-minute consultation, complete with height and weight measurements, the calculation of body mass index and body fat percentage, and chest, hip and thigh measurements.
More significantly, perhaps, Shulman said, is the recording of the patient’s medical history, which incorporates what foods the patient is accustomed to choosing as well as their preparation and any other factors, such as surgeries and diseases, which can complicate weight maintenance.
“The difference between Dr. Bo’s and other programs is that we take finite approaches to very specific phases with a specific set of objectives so that we can take the necessary steps toward the ultimate objective, whereas with many weight-loss programs, Day 1 and Day 1,000 are the same,” Shulman said. “The problem with that philosophy is that it completely ignores human nature.”
Shulman said Dr. Bo’s Diet’s primary objective during this phase is to find out whether the patient’s weight-loss issues stem from a physiological condition or psychological blocks and prepare him for the adaptation phase of the program wherein he experiences rapid and consistent weight loss.
“We find very often patients believe they’re making healthy choices but they’re still struggling,” Shulman said. “Less than 1 percent of the population has a physical condition that will prevent them from maintaining a healthy weight.”
During this phase, typically the first two days of the program, the patient is preparing his pantry as well as his body for the more structured phase 2, an approximated 38-day session during which Shulman said patients lose anywhere from .5 lb. to 1.5 lbs. per day.
“By monitoring [the weight loss] on a physiological as well as a physical and nutritional level, we’re able to ensure that a patient can lose that kind of weight, somewhere between 20 and sometimes 60 – though that’s rare – pounds in the first 40 days,” Shulman said.
Once a patient begins phase 3, he enters into what Shulman said is the hardest part of the process: keeping the weight off by a process of undoing metabolic abuse.
“Most people come out of a weight-loss program saying they’re going to keep the weight off and make good choices, but there’s a progression where you start stepping over these lines and the lines start to get very blurry and you start to go down a very slippery slope and time starts to catch up with you,” Shulman said. “If you move too quickly, that quick transition from dieting to living is so abusive to the metabolism that even in making good decisions, you’re setting yourself up unknowingly for failure.”
Shulman said during this phase, Dr. Bo’s staff works with patients to “develop a slow, controlled and strategic” approach in increasing portion sizes and widening the types of foods they can eat.
The only aspect that Shulman said does not change during any phase of the program is with the two-hour windows to eat meals, which is meant to balance the hormones grellin and leptin, which control feelings of hunger.
“Phase 4 is about education,” Shulman said. “Typically during Phase 4, you’re not going to lose much more weight. You tend to be more toward your goal and learn how your unique body responds to each of the four elements so that we can establish a maintenance plan that is all-inclusive of your preferences all within the moderation of what’s appropriate for you.”
Shulman said after phase 4, at around the 16-week mark in the program, patients are left “with an arsenal of tools you can tap into for the rest of your life.”
During the fifth phase of the program, Shulman said patients are challenged with the task of applying the strategies and plans accumulated during the first four phases into keeping the weight off for an entire year.
Gradually, patients are weaned off visits with Dr. Bo’s staff so the techniques learned over the course of the program are implemented naturally into everyday life.
“The numbers are atrocious in terms of relapse rates on diets for patients in their first year who gain the weight back,” Shulman said. “Phase 5 ensures that the opposite occurs. Because we’re weaning patients off the program, we’re making sure patients can sustain the weight loss for much longer. How we do that is individualized to each patient.”