Be Well


Ask the Expert: Modern Day Wellness

Heather Whittemore, Board-certified Nurse Practitioner at Be Well Knoxville

Starting the journey to wellness can sometimes be a daunting undertaking in the beginning. It can also be daunting if you’re restarting your journey after a setback. However, having the proper support system on that journey can make a world of difference. That’s where the team at Be Well Knoxville come in. 

This dedicated team realizes that there is a process to becoming healthy, and that path can look unique for everyone, depending on what your goals are. For some, becoming healthy means losing weight or building a healthier relationship with food. For others, becoming healthy means lowering your A1C to gain better control of diabetes or identifying the treatments necessary to help slow the aging process.

However you define healthy, Be Well Knoxville is here for you. With Heather Whittemore, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner, at the helm, the journey to true holistic health is within reach.

Is weight loss one-size-fits all?

Once we get a patient started on their treatment path, that path can vary along the way. It all just depends on what the patient’s needs are. This is all decided after the provider sits down one-on-one with the patient to discuss their goals, concerns, previous obstacles to success, lifestyle choices, treatment options, and more.

Each of our patients receive one-on-one counseling. We perform full body composition measurements to track progress, have prescription grade supplements and prescription medication to help. Some patients will come to see us weekly, some patients will come to see us monthly, and sometimes it goes back and forth between those two, depending on that juncture as to how much support that they’re needing. 

We’re always there to do one on one with each of the patients at every single visit, and they feel like they’re actually heard and listened to, and that they’re a part of the decision making process to help them get to their goal.

Why is medication-based weight loss trending?

Weight loss and weight management are super hot topics. Right now, you can do one little search on the internet and all kinds of things pop up. A lot of it has to do with the GLP- 1 receptor agonist class of medications and their recent approval for weight loss. We have had minimal medications since 1959 that have offered such benefits and efficacy for patients in their pursuit of a healthy weight.

Patients have more of a grasp on their health. They can see the results happening, they can see the other medications that they’re able to come off of because their blood pressure or their diabetes is under control.

I’ve been in this specialty for almost 18 years and for the first time we are starting to openly discuss obesity as a chronic disease, just like hypertension or diabetes.

How does a patient know if the medication is right for them?

The medication itself is very safe as there are a lot of protective benefits to it. But because there’s such a push for these medications now, you have bad prescribing actors, like very loose telehealth. You can start up online, you never see a provider and you get prescribed this medication and it shows up at your door. There’s never any patient-doctor interaction whatsoever. There is no monitoring. And so it puts a bad name out there for the rest of us who are trying to do the right thing for our patients. 

From a safety perspective, you would absolutely want to make sure that you’re working with a legitimate health care professional that does an exam and review of systems, your health history, and that you physically see someone to prescribe these medications and then monitor it. 

What’s one of the key aspects to a successful weight loss journey?

I think that patients cannot view it as a destination. You’re not going to arrive there and that be the end of it because this is something that most patients have struggled with their whole lives. It’s something that’s going to have to continue because if you don’t continue working with patients to carry out the work beyond the magic number, then things are just going to turn back to the way they were and they will end up in the same boat as when they started.

With our patients, we give a loose set of goals, whatever the patient wants to set, and we don’t always necessarily use a number.  Patients have to be groomed, coached and supported along the way to have the mindset that it’s never going to end. If you meet the patient where they are and make small subtle changes over time, it’s something that they can achieve and feel good about, and everything they put into place becomes easier and easier as time goes on. And yes, they will still have to work at it, but it becomes second nature, and that’s the goal.

Does mental wellness play a role?

While weight management consists of both physiological and psychological components, the biggest percentage of weight loss is more mental and emotional. For some reason, at some juncture along the way, for most patients who struggle with this, there has been some type of trauma or negative event that happened where they’ve found food to be their comfort. So unless you can get to the root of why this patient has developed this unhealthy relationship with food, you’re never really going to fix anything. This doesn’t happen the first day we meet our patients, but there will come a time where we will get to the root and work with them on how they can move forward, develop a better relationship with food, and learn to love themselves again. 

Patients come to us asking for help, but truly they are needing healing. The reason Be Well and our patients are so successful is because we strive to share empowerment through caring stewardship one patient at a time.


10918 Kingston Pike

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