Ashley Lucas, founder of PHD Weight Loss, recently opened a new clinic in south Asheville after moving to the area with her family last November.
Lucas meets with clients in the attractively decorated office as she helps them make positive changes in their diets and attain improved levels of wellness.
“What we have is so unique,” Lucas said. “We focus on creating a metabolic shift within the body to avoid usual methods of weight loss.”
The approach Lucas takes to the program she developed is based on knowledge acquired during her extensive educational training. In addition to completing doctoral studies in sports nutrition and chronic disease, Lucas is also a registered dietician.
To help clients achieve their weight loss goals, Lucas offers nutritional education, which includes long-term dietary lifestyle chances.
“We prepare the individual for maintenance,” she said. “This is something you have to do long-term.”
Shorter-term weight loss program can fail because once they are completed, people tend to go back to former dietary patterns, she observed.
“We put together a customized meal plan … There’s not a single individual we can’t work with,” including vegans, Lucas said.
Losing weight has nothing to do with willpower whatsoever, Lucas noted. Also, while embarking on a diet designed to drop pounds, people should not feel constant hunger, she added.
“We get rid of cravings and hunger,” she said.
Looking at a photo of a heart surrounded by fatty tissue, Lucas explained that fat, which moves into other organs, also starts to grow on surrounding vessels. The hormones being secreted in this fat cause health issues, she added.
“We need to collapse fat mass,” she said.
The approach that Lucas takes focuses not only on the metabolic consequences of fat gain and inflammation, but also on the behavioral and psychological aspects of diet.
Along with dietary changes designed to help people lose weight and keep it off, clients also develop an awareness of the mental aspect of changes they are making.
“We understand that the journey is mental and emotional,” Lucas said. “We help re-train the mind set.”
Meditation areas at PHD Weight Loss provide 20-minute audio sessions for clients, which Lucas encourages them to experience as part of the program.
Her slim, statuesque appearance suggests Lucas’ former career as a professional ballet dancer. The transition from ballet performances to a business focused on nutrition and wellness was a somewhat natural one for Lucas.
While engaged in what she calls the “passionate pursuit of perfection” as a dancer, Lucas tried to stay on a rigidly controlled diet so that she would be acceptably thin.
As a result, she struggled for many years to maintain a body type specific to the standard for ballet dancers.
In 2005 Lucas decided to make a change. She retired from her dancing career of 25 years and began studying nutrition.
Her husband, Dr. Doug Lucas, an orthopedic surgeon, is also a retired professional dancer who has experienced issues related to diet. As a youngster, Doug constantly battled with weight gain.
PHD Weight Loss is a family business in which her husband and parents are directly involved, Lucas noted.
The clinic in Asheville is the fourth one Lucas has opened in recent years. The other three are in Durango, Colorado, Farmington, New Mexico, and Ormond Beach, Florida.
Speaking of the new location in Asheville, Lucas said that she and her family felt a moral obligation to share the weight loss program with more people. She and her family also enjoy the culture and climate of Asheville.
Lucas and her husband have three young children including a four-month old baby girl.
PHD Weight Loss is at 1833 Hendersonville Road, Suite 170. For more information, visit the website at https://myphdweightloss.com or call 828-552-3333.