‘MedGem’ device reduces diet guesswork

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
Losing unwanted pounds is a difficult journey, but a new device takes some of the guesswork out of the steps along the way.

It’s called the MedGem, and it’s a high-tech instrument used at the Health Post fitness and wellness center in Hillsboro.

A simple 10-minute test with the MedGem determines the calories a client needs to consume per day to lose weight.

“We find their basic resting metabolic rate, and that’s how we determine what calorie count to put them on,” said Jeanne Rziha, wellness coordinator at the Health Post.

The resting metabolic rate represents the calories the body uses to maintain vital-body functions, such as heart rate, brain function and breathing. RMR is the number of calories a person burns when awake but at rest.

MedGem is a hand-held portable devise that looks like a man’s over-size electric razor and weighs less than 5 ounces.

It has a detachable mouthpiece replaced for each client tested. A window quickly displays the number of calories burned when at rest.

Knowing the at-rest calories, Rziha can determine how many calories need to be consumed in a day to maintain or lose weight. And she can recommend an exercise program to increase the metabolic rate and burn more calories.

“If you have a low metabolic rate, and you gain muscle mass, your metabolic rate goes up higher because muscles use more energy,” Rziha said.

“So what we try to do is to encourage people to lift weights, cause their metabolic rate to go up higher and lose weight faster.”

Since the Health Post first opened about one year ago, the center has been offering a comprehensive fitness plan that includes a weight-loss program called the 90-Day Challenge.

One of the machines first used to determine RMR at the Health Post was called the MetaCheck. But the test results were complicated for clients to follow.

“And that machine wasn’t giving consistent results, so I called them and told them it wasn’t working right,” Rziha said.

After sending the machine back, she received the newest on the market-MedGem-about six weeks ago.

FDA approved, the instrument is made by HealthTech Inc. in Golden, Colo.

Rziha received training from a representative of the U.S. Wellness Center and studied the information accompanying the devise.

She also tested it on herself and Health Post owner Lou Greenhaw before using it on clients.

“A study was done and out of five women with the same height and weight, their basic metabolic rate varied by as much as 1,000 calories,” Greenhaw said when explaining the value of the information learned from MedGem.

If a client chooses to enroll in the 90-Day Challenge, Rziha administers the MedGem in the beginning as a part of a $250 comprehensive package.

The remaining 12-week program includes a diary, a calorie-count book and a notebook to track weight-loss progress.

Weekly check-in and support are important routines in the regime to help clients change poor eating habits, exercise and reach their target weights.

But a client can choose to take the MedGem test without joining the program, and that cost is $40.

Before a scheduled appointment, the client is advised to refrain from exercising or eating for three hours.

Rziha explains the procedure to the client while the devise is plugged in and calibrated.

Each client receives a single-use attachment to breath into, and Rziha gently attaches a nose clip.

“I tell them they’ll have to sit down, breath into the mouthpiece, and keep their mouth tight to get a good seal,” Rziha said.

“We put a clip on their nose so they get all the carbon dioxide through here, and all the air will go through their mouth.”

Inhaling and exhaling through the attachment, the client sits quietly and reads for the required 10 minutes of evaluation.

“The biggest thing is they’re not to hyperventilate,” Rziha said. “It should be whatever is normal breathing for them.”

At the end of 10 minutes, the MedGem beeps, a light goes off, and the calorie reading is displayed in the window.

Greenhaw’s calorie count on MedGem registered at 1,500. That means if she eats 2,000 calories a day, she needs to use some form of exercise to burn the remaining 500 calories.

And that information can also be used if she wants to lose weight, because she knows how many calories to take in every day.

The message from Rziha is simple.

“If you eat less and start exercising more, you’re going to lose more weight,” Rziha said.

“The MedGem results are the bottom line, because this is how many calories you can have split out over the whole day.”

Rziha has used the MedGem three different ways at the Health Post.

One is to help clients determine their calorie count. The second is to help those who regularly exercise on the Health Post fitness machines keep track of their resting metabolic rate.

And the third is to help medical personnel gain valuable information about their patients.

“The reason it was developed in the first place was for hospital use to determine how many calories to tube feed people,” Rziha said.

Nutritional monitoring is important in the care of patients with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity, according to information from HealthTech.

It’s also used in the medical arena for those patients at risk for malnutrition, such as those with cancer, burns and infections.

After recently returning from a health fair, Rziha confirmed that the Health Post was the only facility in the area offering the MedGem.

Those who want to get tested by MedGem can schedule an appointment by calling the Health Post at 947-3481 or Rziha at 785-965-2651.

And so far, five clients have taken advantage of the newest hi-tech tool available in the daily battle of calories taken in versus those expended.

“One gal was so relieved to know she had such a low metabolic rate,” Rziha said.

“She said, ‘I’ve known for years that I don’t eat like other people.'”

With a low metabolic rate, Rziha’s client was struggling with constant weight-gain battles.

“So she really dropped weight fast when she started exercising,” Rziha said. “She told me she hadn’t felt this good in years.”

And as a clinician dedicated to helping people reach their weight-loss goals, improve their health and develop a positive self-image, Rziha said she was pleased with what the MedGem offers.

“It’s easy to us, and it’s just what we want for our clients.”

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