Business Focus: Houston Methodist Weight Management Center


Story and Photos By Amy Burnett

If you resolve to lose weight in the New Year, a lifestyle change and a long-term plan are essential for success. “Everyone is interested in losing weight fast, but they need to remember the key to any weight management plan is having a long-term view of weight stability after a weight loss program,” said Peter Howard Jones, MD, medical director of Houston Methodist Weight Management Center.

Sheryl Barnes at 229 pounds

Nearly two years ago, Sheryl Barnes of Chester, Texas, a mother of two, weighed her all-time high of 229 pounds and felt the frustration countless others have felt as they have tried to lose the extra weight. “I had tried all the diets out there, worked with several dietitians, and hired a personal trainer, but nothing worked,” said Barnes, who in 2017 decided to visit Houston Methodist Weight Management Center at The Woodlands. “I didn’t realize the psychological factor that plays a huge part in weight loss. You have to figure out why you have certain habits so you can make changes,” she said.

Sheryl Barnes could not have imagined the possibility of losing 79 pounds or of running a half marathon.

For more than 30 years, the center and its team of experts, under the direction of Jones, have provided diet and fitness guidance, counseling, and medical supervision to help people maintain weight goals. (The Weight Management Center opened its location on the campus of Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital in 2016.) “If a person needs to lose weight, a reduced calorie diet that can be easily followed is key. It must be coupled with a strong personal commitment,” added Jones.

The help Barnes receives from the Houston Methodist Weight Management Center at The Woodlands has changed her life forever

Unique to Houston Methodist Weight Management Center is its staff of dietitians, exercise physiologists, and mental health professionals. Each plays a different role and helps patients safely jump-start their weight loss while providing tools to maintain it. “The team will also assist with the harder journey of sustaining weight maintenance,” said Jones.

Houston Methodist Weight Management Center offers two unique programs that assist with both the short-term and long-term goals in mind.


In the StepLite program, patients follow a diet of 1,100 daily calories. This program offers a comprehensive approach to weight loss and provides team support. It is educational in nature so that participants become knowledgeable about their health, and it equips them with the information necessary to lose weight and then maintain the weight loss. The meal plans, weekly check-ins, group sessions, and one-time MedGem (individualized metabolic rate testing) are all part of the process. With an average success rate of two pounds of weight loss per week, Jones said it is a healthy way to drop pounds. “This degree of weight loss is perfect for people who want to improve mobility, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of diabetes,” he added.

Rapid Weight Loss

The center’s Rapid Weight Loss program is offered to people needing to lose more than 10 percent of their baseline weight or with a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 30. It is a three-phase program where people go on a rapid weight loss beverage plan, which provides 800 calories a day and very low carbs, to achieve a reasonable goal weight. Then food is incorporated back into their diet, followed by a maintenance program. For patients who stay on the program for more than a year, the average weight loss is 86 pounds and 27 percent loss of their body weight.

According to Jones, the time on each program will vary by patients. “For example, the Rapid Weight Loss program is more tightly followed with medical supervision, and a patient can stay in this plan as long as needed to reduce substantial weight (sometimes more than 100 pounds). The StepLite plan is usually for 3-6 months.”

If visiting a weight loss center seems intimidating, experts say it’s worth recognizing the consistent support combined with the accountability you will receive. “Sustaining weight loss is always a difficult path. Cultivating a complete life plan consisting of an optimal dietary pattern, adequate hydration, and an exercise routine requires a team of professionals that can instill accountability and structure. Houston Methodist has the best, most experienced team to help with this important journey,” said Jones.

Barnes believes visiting the weight management center in The Woodlands was the best decision she could have made. In the eight months as a center patient, she lost 79 pounds and reached her goal weight of 150. After losing the weight, Barnes was able to run the 2018 Houston Methodist The Woodlands Half Marathon. She is now in the maintenance phase of the Rapid Weight Loss program and has kept the weight off for more than a year.

Surgery as a weight loss option

The decision about whether surgery may be the best path to take for weight loss can be challenging. For a person with a Body Mass Index in the 35-40 range and with a life-threatening illness such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, sleep apnea, or reflux disease, the decision can often be clearer. In many of these cases, weight-loss surgery may be the most effective option for long-term results and better health according to Jason Balette, MD, a bariatric surgeon at Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital.

“Weight loss surgery is designed to make medical problems improve or resolve. Our target is a patient who wants to prevent those problems from occurring or get rid of them if they already have them,” stated Balette.

Surgical options at Houston Methodist The Woodlands include:

Sleeve Gastrectomy where 75-percent of the person’s stomach is removed.

Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass which redirects food to a surgically created pouch in the stomach bypassing part of the small intestine.

Weight Loss Surgery Revisions are procedures performed due to complications from a previous bariatric surgery such as bypass, sleeve, adjustable-band or vertical-banded gastroplasty. 

“We expect the weight-loss surgery to help patients lose 70-80 percent of their excess weight,” said Balette. “While a lot of these people define success differently, the overwhelming majority that have weight loss surgery for metabolic reasons are healthier and happier after they’ve had surgery.” 

17183 Interstate 45 S.
Medical Office Building 1, Suite 490
The Woodlands, Texas 77385
(832) 667-5673


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