CMI’s Lifestyle Modification Program—a holistic approach to a healthier life

Health goals outlined for you by the clinic’s board-certified doctors are not only personalized—they’re doable

By Joy Rojas

Bella may “only” be in her mid-40s, but it wasn’t too long ago when she felt much older. Overweight by more than 40 lbs., she worried not just about the numbers on the scale, but also her lipid profile too. Her triglycerides (fat found in the blood) and LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol were through the roof, thus increasing her risk of heart disease and stroke. But with her excess pounds, any opportunity to exercise was short, tiring, and few and far between.

“Doing day-to-day activities was hard as I felt ‘heavy’ all the time,” says Bella. “Plus, my back and feet were hurting almost every day.”

Still, she wanted a change, and wanted to do it right. No more fad diets, pills, or demanding workouts that made her lose weight fast—only to regain them back, and then some, once she stopped. To ensure healthy, safe, and lasting changes, she sought the help of experts.

Lifestyle Modification Program

So, she called Centre Medicale Internationale (CMI) for a consult.

Of the wide range of diagnostics, treatments and procedures, and specialty programs offered by the premier outpatient clinic in Bonifacio Global City, it was the Lifestyle Modification Program that CMI primary care physician Dr. Donna Pangilinan-Simpao recommended for Bella. A graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, Dr. Simpao trained in applying functional medicine in clinical practice, in integrative nutrition and health coaching. She is currently a candidate for certification with the Philippine College of Lifestyle Medicine.

Formerly known as the Integrative Health Coaching Program, CMI’s Lifestyle Modification Program “brings together traditional or conventional and complementary approaches to address health and wellness. It emphasizes the sustainable, multi-modal approach,” says Dr. Simpao. “It also sees a person as a whole being, and not just simply a representative of an organ or organ systems.”

“I learned about the program while waiting for one of my consultations at CMI,” says Bella. “I decided to try it because after hearing about the benefits, it was obvious that they outweighed the cost.”

SMART goals

One main reason why Bella was drawn to the program was the availability of board-certified specialists to guide her in addressing interrelated health concerns.

During the first session of the program, Bella was already convinced that she made the right investment with CMI for her over-all health improvement.  A thorough evaluation was done, with past and present supportive laboratory work up and scans reviewed.  Bella was made aware of her existing health challenges and the risk factors that needed to be addressed to prevent disease onset or progression. Apart from the recommended medications/therapies, she also learned the lifestyle modifications- daily health promoting behaviors that she could apply for health improvement.

Bella was challenged to set up SMART health goals (SMART as an acronym of Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Sensitive). To address both lipids and excess weight, through healthy eating, fun and effective movement, intentional relaxation and stress management, good sleep, the over-all goal was to lose 1 lb a week for a total of 6 lbs in 6 weeks.

To achieve her goal, she worked with a team of doctors that included  Dr. Simpao, and an endocrinologist throughout the 6 weeks.  Since Bella’s health concerns were interrelated, a holistic multispecialty approach was necessary.

“We talked about my habits and what I wanted to get out of the program. Dr. Simpao sent relevant information on how and why these types of programs work and we agreed on what was needed from me in order to be successful,” says Bella. “Dr Simpao gathered data on what I like to eat and what I dislike, and she was able to offer recipes and alternatives that would work specifically for me and my family.”

“Bella wanted  to lose at least 40 lbs. to reach her healthy weight in 6-12 months,” says Dr. Simpao. “She enrolled in the program to help her jumpstart her path to health, promoting behaviors in the areas of diet and nutrition, movement and physical activity, stress and relaxation. And the emphasis in this program is the adoption of health promoting behaviors  in general  with weight loss  as a desirable outcome. It was not all about shedding the pounds. “

“Weight loss was simply a result of lifestyle modifications  that would also greatly benefit disease entities, in delaying progression of existing comorbidities or remove the risk factors to develop new conditions ,” says Dr. Simpao.

With concrete and doable plans laid out for her, Bella diligently did her homework and met with Dr. Simpao in a one-hour session every two weeks for the six-week program.

“We saw each other face-to-face three times, but she was always available on Viber to answer all my questions and to clarify information,” says Bella. “During this time, she tracked my daily food intake and encouraged me to keep exercising and to make healthier choices. Following the program was easy because it was designed specifically for me, and it did not feel like a burden in my day-to-day activities.”

How Bella was doing in terms of relaxation, sleep, stress management, work-life management, and relationships was also monitored by Dr. Simpao, in keeping with the program’s holistic approach.

Promising and encouraging   

Six weeks after she began the Lifestyle Modification Program, Bella admits feeling younger, having more energy and being highly motivated.

“From 74.7 kg at the beginning, she went down to 70.4 kg after six weeks—that’s more than 1 lb. per week, or a total was 9.4 lbs.,” says Dr. Simpao. “And she continues to lose even after the program. She is now at 67.7 kg.”

Ms. Bella Franco

Bella, who practiced intermittent fasting for 8-10 hours a day, was neither calorie counting, nor tied to a strict or rigid deprivation of food.  “She learned about healthy eating, focusing on food and drinks that would help her cardiometabolic and inflammation issues,” says Dr Simpao.

As for exercise, Bella went from zero movement to going to the gym almost daily and making intentional movements at home. She’s also considering joining dance classes.

“Bella is due for her repeat lipid profile work up in a couple of weeks and we really expect her levels to improve. But the effect the program has had on her overall health is undeniable,” says Dr. Simpao.

“I feel lighter now and my general health has improved significantly,” says Bella. “Now I understand this is a way of life and will happily continue with the process to get to my target weight.”

Bella’s victory is her doctor’s victory as well. “It is very promising and encouraging to see clients become more aware and mindful of their holistic health and find ways to make healthier decisions on a daily basis,” says Dr. Simpao with pride.  “I see clients go from zero intentional physical activity to finding something they enjoy and look forward to; and from not eating vegetables at all to eating veggies five times a day.”

As such, she and Bella highly recommend CMI’s Lifestyle Management program to people who value their health and are committed to doing what they can with the help and expertise of CMI’s specialists.

“It’s easy to see that Dr. Simpao knows what she is talking about and that she cares about her patients,” says Bella. “The program changes the way you see food and exercise and helps you to be healthier overall.”

“It’s essential for health maintenance,” avers Dr. Simpao. “To prevent or reverse disease and delay progression—with lots of mindfulness, fun, and creativity!


CMI is located at 2/F Ore Central Bldg., 31st corner 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. For inquiries and appointment scheduling for your outpatient medical needs, you may call + 63 2 8812-1264, +63 2 8816-1035 to 36 or visit

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