What is Lifestyle and Metabolic Medicine?

The Lifestyle and Metabolic Medicine department is led by Dr. Greg Sharp and nutritionist Jasmine Miller and designed to help patients suffering from obesity and related metabolic diseases. The foundation of the department is our Primal Pathway Program that supports nutrition and lifestyle changes for supporting good health.

Where is the Lifestyle and Metabolic Medicine Program Located?

The program is located at The Polyclinic Madison Center.

  • Individual physician consultations and medical follow-ups can be scheduled Tuesday through Friday at Madison Center, 9th floor, Suite C
  • All group classes are held in various conference rooms at The Polyclinic Madison Center. Classes are offered Tuesday and Wednesday evenings at 5 pm, Wednesday’s at 10:30 am and Thursdays at 11:30 am. Individual visits with Jasmine will take place in her office on the 9th floor, Suite C.

Who makes up the Lifestyle and Metabolic Medicine care team?

Dr. Greg Sharp received his medical degree and residency training from the University of Washington. He has been a primary care internal medicine physician at The Polyclinic since 2007. Since 2012, Dr. Sharp has been integrating advanced nutritional guidance to help patients with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome improve lab markers, lose weight, and reduce medication.

Dr. Sharp himself has sustained 40 pounds of weight loss since 2012. He became board certified in obesity medicine in early 2016. Read more about Dr. Sharp’s weight loss journey.

Jasmine Miller is a certified nutritionist and holds a master’s of science in human nutrition and functional medicine from the University of Western States. She struggled with her own weight during her childhood and teen years. But after making dramatic nutrition and lifestyle changes, she lost more than 80 pounds and kept it off for more than 10 years, and is now an avid endurance athlete.

Dr. Kristen Johnson practiced as a primary care doctor for 17 years before earning her board certification in obesity medicine and joining the Lifestyle & Metabolic Medicine team. She enjoys helping patients find their path to health and wellness, drawing on their individual strengths and challenges, in combination with evidence-based guidelines on nutrition, exercise, and medication when needed.

What kind of diet(s) do you recommend to people?

We try to avoid the term “diet” due to negative connotations associated. Instead, we encourage nutritional changes for improved health. We believe there is no “one-size-fits-all” plan when it comes to nutrition. However, we advocate strongly for removing processed foods, excess sugar, and refined carbohydrates but encourage consuming nutrient-dense, whole foods. Unlike conventional dietary guidelines, we embrace natural dietary fats as part of a balanced nutrition plan.

I need to lose a lot of weight fast, what is a good nutrition program for me?

Most patients want to lose weight fast, and we understand that. Lasting results, we believe, come from more consistent, sustainable changes. However, our patients who are very diligent about limiting their sugar and refined carbohydrate intake often experience a significant amount of weight loss early on before it tapers to a more gradual, steady rate of decline over time.

I’ve tried a lot of diets in the past and either not seen the results I wanted and/or gained back all the weight I lost once I stopped following the diet. What makes your diet program different?

Our program is not about “quick-fixes” and short-term nutrition changes; our program is a complete lifestyle transformation. We do not require you to count calories, chronically “starve” yourself, or engage in overly-strenuous and unsustainable physical activity. Instead, we focus on providing the body with the nutrients it truly needs and desires by choosing foods closer to their natural state.

We shift focus toward:

  • grass-fed meats
  • wild fish
  • organic eggs
  • vegetables
  • full-fat dairy
  • nuts and seeds
  • fibrous fruits
  • high quality oils like olive, avocado, and coconut

We shift focus away from:

  • sugar
  • refined carbohydrates
  • processed vegetable oils

I hate going to the gym! Will I still see results even if I don’t work out all the time?

Contrary to popular belief, exercise is not an effective tool for weight-loss; weight-loss success is almost always due to appropriate nutritional changes. We encourage our patients to participate in regular exercise because of the multitude of health benefits it offers, not because it aids in weight loss.

What are the benefits of exercise?

Exercise provides benefits for your entire body systems including:

  • aids stress-management
  • promotes sleep
  • prevents depression
  • aids in digestion
  • improves cardiovascular health
  • increases lean muscle mass
  • helps maintain weight loss from dietary changes.

I have certain dietary restrictions (i.e. am vegan, vegetarian, lactose intolerant, gluten free, etc.), will your program still work for me?

Our program focuses on consuming whole foods. We encourage our patients to eat high-quality protein sources such as grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, and wild-caught fish. Therefore, strict vegans will have a difficult time following this program and still meeting protein needs.

However, while lacto-ovo vegetarians (eat eggs and dairy) or pescitarians (eat fish) may find the program slightly challenging in the beginning, we can provide useful strategies to help you succeed and have had great success with similar patients before.

Being lactose intolerant or gluten free will not create any barriers. In fact, we encourage our patients to avoid most grains, particularly wheat-based products, and some of our patients find that eliminating dairy can produce even better results.

What is The Primal Pathway program?

Dr. Sharp and Jasmine have designed a ‘core curriculum’ for patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or higher. Primal Pathway is a ‘back to basics’ approach to guide patients away from failed conventional wisdom while they find their inner strength on the journey to better health. These group classes follow the model of ‘Intensive Behavioral Therapy’ and are covered by most insurance plans as a preventive service benefit with no copay.

What topics are covered in your class?

Primal Pathway Program Outline

  1. Introductions and Basic Program Overview
  2. Carbohydrates
  3. Dietary Fats
  4. Protein
  5. Goal Setting, Behavior Change and Strategies for Success
  6. Stress and Emotional Eating
  7. Physical Activity #1 – The truth about exercise and how to get started
  8. Physical Activity #2 – Best types of exercise and making it a part of your life
  9. Dining Out – How to maintain your new healthy lifestyle without deprivation
  10. Meal Timing and Intermittent Fasting
  11. Screen Overdose and Sleep/Circadian Rhythms
  12. What now? Recap/Feedback and continuing with the program

Why the name Primal Pathway?

We chose Primal Pathway because it conveys a back-to-basics approach getting to the root causes of weight gain and metabolic dysfunction.

Primal Pathway means returning to eating patterns that resemble our primal ancestors. Our distant (and not so distant) ancestors ate whole, unprocessed foods. We hope to reawaken patients’ inner, primal strength and empower them to take back control of their health. The “pathway” part of the title aligns with our concept of the lifestyle changes being taught in this program: it is a journey, not a destination. We believe long-term success is produced by making long-term, sustainable changes and not by a set start or end date

Who can enroll in the Primal Pathway program?

The program is initially open to all patients with a BMI of 30 or higher, depending on insurance coverage. Find your BMI in your medical record, or calculate with an online BMI calculator.

Who should not enroll in the Primal Pathway program?

Patients who cannot commit to the time and visits necessary for the program. Major lifestyle change is a serious undertaking.

Patients will need to be able to find time and commit to visits every one to two weeks for the first four months and a monthly support group session for the rest of the year after that.

Does insurance cover the program?

Initial physician consultation and medical follow-ups will be subject to standard office visit copays and deductibles.

  • The Primal Pathway Program is part of a preventive service benefit known as Intensive Behavioral Therapy for Obesity. These visits are covered by most commercial insurances and Medicare with no copay or deductible, i.e. free to the patients with a starting BMI greater than 30.
  • For those who have a BMI of 25 to 30 (who are overweight but not clinically obese), insurance coverage varies.

Regardless of insurance coverage, there is a one-time, out-of-pocket fee of $299 for the first year of service. The fee is designed to cover material costs and extra benefits provided outside of regular class content. Benefits included:

  • All course materials
  • MyChart online patient portal messages
  • Access to a private Facebook support group
  • Shopping guides
  • Meal planning resources
  • Discounts to local 5k and 10k walking/running events
  • Discounts to meal delivery services
  • Access to monthly support group visits up to one year from sign-up date once their insurance covered visits have expired.
  • Regular access to our medical grade body composition scale.

*The one-time fee is the same for both Primal programs because these are fixed benefits and not related to the number of visits or the length of classes. The one-time fee is non-refundable.

Will medications be part of the weight loss and metabolic program?

We emphasize realistic and sustainable lifestyle changes that prioritize a shift in mindset. We will always review your current medications and medical conditions looking for medications that might hinder weight loss, suggesting alternatives that can be more weight neutral or perhaps enhance weight loss efforts if possible.

For some select patients, prescription anti-obesity medications can be a helpful addition to make implementation of nutrition and behavior changes easier. However, medications by without fundamental and strategic nutrition planning, will offer little to no benefit. Patients interested in prescription anti-obesity medications will be required to sign up for the Primal Pathway Program first.

What types of results can patients expect?

As with any weight management program, results are highly variable and no guarantees can be made. However, most of our patients have seen good results, the vast majority of patients lose 15 to 20+ pounds and many patients lose 30 to 50+ pounds. Dr. Sharp has even had patients lose 100 pounds with no medications and only nutritional changes.

How do I sign up?

Call our patient scheduling line at 206-860-5499 to sign up for the Lifestyle and Metabolic Medicine Program.