Author Archives: Sam Kafelghazal

About Sam Kafelghazal

Dr. Sam Kafelghazal, MD is a board certified internist who specializes in weight management and bariatric medicine and is the founder and medical director of Virtual Weight Management. Dr. Sam has 15 years of experience in weight management and applies the latest treatment methods to help patients reach their goals.


Suffering From Osteoarthritis? Your Weight Could Increase Pain

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If you have any variation of arthritis, you know the pain can be unbearable.

I recently came across this article that shows the importance of weight loss to help reduce the pain in osteoarthritis patients. From the article:

Overweight and obese people with arthritis in their knees tend to report more pain than slimmer people with the chronic joint disease, suggests a new study. This study goes a step further. It suggests that people with a higher body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight in relation to height, may have more pain than normal-weight people with the same amount of arthritis-related damage.

We know from previous studies that fat cells produce toxins that induce inflammation in the body, including the joints. So when a person looses weight, they get relief of their pain due to reducing the inflammation in their joints and their weight loss.

Therefore, obese osteoarthritis patients can delay the need for surgery and knee and hip replacement by simply focusing on leading a healthier lifestyle and getting involved in a weight loss program.

Stay updated on all the weight loss news and tips we share by subscribing to the Virtual Weight Management blog via RSS or by entering your email in the top right corner.


The Importance of Regular Physical Activity to Reduce Mobility Problems

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It shouldn’t come as a shock that incorporating regular physical activity into your life will help lower your chances of dealing with health issues in the future.

But, in case you were questioning the validity of that claim, here’s new proof: A recent study published in the Journal of American Medical Association found that people in their 70s and 80s who took part in a moderate-intensity exercise program over several years were more likely to retain their ability to get around independently. More from a Reuters Health article:

The results add to a growing body of evidence that regular physical activity may help to keep older adults moving as they age, said the study’s lead author.

“The key issue is that we did not have until now definitive evidence where physical activity could prevent a major outcome such as (loss of) mobility in adults,” Dr. Marco Pahor, director of the Institute on Aging at the University of Florida, Gainesville, said.

We all want to enjoy retirement and avoid mobility problems at all costs, right? That’s why I encourage my patients to incorporate frequent physical activity into their lifestyle at a young age. And, for my older patients, I stress that it’s better to start now than never!

Don’t think you have to run a marathon or do intense cardio workouts to see the benefit of physical activity. Walking 1-3 miles a couple times a week can do wonders for your physical health.

Stay updated on all the weight loss news and tips we share by subscribing to the Virtual Weight Management blog via RSS or by entering your email in the top right corner.


Breakfast For Kids: Stay Away From Sugary Cereal

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Cereal is a quick and easy option for breakfast for kids, but a recent study discovered U.S. children are consuming more than 10 pounds of sugar annually if they eat a typical morning bowl of cereal. More from this Reuters article:

The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based health information non-profit, said its report covers more than 1,500 cereals, including 181 marketed to children.

As part of the report, the group re-examined 84 cereals it studied in a similar report in 2011, and found that the sugar content of those cereals remained on average at 29 percent. Some cereals had increased sugar content now compared to 2011, and none of the 181 cereals marketed to children was free of added sugars, the group found. On average, children’s cereals have more than 40 percent more sugars than adult cereals, EWG said.

This article shows how breakfast choices can have a significant impact on children’s weight due to high sugar content in what many of us consider a basic breakfast tradition.

I encourage my patients who are parents to read the labels on cereal boxes before they buy them. All cereal high in sugar will make kids more hungry and promote weight gain, especially when the portion size is only 3/4 cup.

For breakfast for kids, I recommend switching to a high protein breakfast like Greek yogurt and eggs (or egg whites). If your kids love cereal, consider a high protein cereal like the Kashi brand or Nature Valley protein bars. You can also give your kids low calorie oatmeal packs that are about 100 calories each.

The important thing to remember is the food choices you make for your children now will have a significant impact on their future health, so stay away from high sugar foods!

Stay updated on all the weight loss news and tips we share by subscribing to the Virtual Weight Management blog via RSS or by entering your email in the top right corner.

Woman in Heels carrying gym Bag

How to Find a Gym While Traveling

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One of the more difficult parts of starting and maintaining an exercise regimen is getting a workout in when you’re traveling. Whether it’s a business trip, family vacation or road trip with your friends, you may need some help finding a place to get that workout in.

While most hotels have a gym, the equipment and quality is usually far less than ideal. To ensure you get a workout in while you’re on the road, here is how to find a gym while traveling:

For those looking for nearby gyms, yoga studios and fitness studios, technology is here to help. New apps are popping up to help health-seeking travelers find a gym on the road. Here are a few new gym location apps:

  • Gymsurfing – Locate a gym, and buy one or more day passes.
  • OmFinder – Search your area for a nearby yoga studio and view the class schedule.
  • GymPoints – Find gyms close to you that offer one-time visits and drop-in classes for commitment-free fitness.

Of course, if you don’t have time to dedicate to a gym visit, there are other ways you can fit exercise and activity into your travel. Try taking the stairs, walking briskly across the airport, exploring nearby parks or taking a 10-minute walking break at a rest stop.

Fitting fitness in on the road is just a matter of creativity and honoring your commitment to a healthy lifestyle, no matter where you are!

Stay updated on all the weight loss news and tips we share by subscribing to the Virtual Weight Management blog via RSS or by entering your email in the top right corner.


Three People working out in a Gym

The Power of Resistance Training For Weight Loss Success

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Are you spending hours on the elliptical or other cardio machine and not seeing the results you want? New research is showing that adding resistance training is a key factor in weight loss success.

By adding resistance training through body weight exercises like Pilates, yoga, barre or “boot camp” programs, you give your body the chance to build muscle and add another layer of fat-burning tissue while you’re at rest.

These workouts are becoming increasingly popular, and you can find many of these classes happening at gyms, boxing clubs and even outdoors in parks with the warm weather.

If you prefer the gym over exercise classes, using common gym equipment like rubber resistance bands, exercise balls, dumbbells, weighted medicine balls and TRX straps can provide an almost infinite number of resistance and body weight exercises. Working with your weight loss team and a personal trainer, you can learn how to use these tools and build a program appropriate for your unique needs.

When you add resistance training, you build muscle. This happens because when you train your muscles, it creates microfiber tears in the muscle tissue that rebuild over the next few days, resulting in stronger, more defined muscles. As the muscle repairs itself and grows, it pumps up your metabolism. Muscles burn more calories at rest than fat does, which is why resistance training for weight loss is more successful than cardiovascular activities alone.

As always, consult a doctor before starting an exercise program to make sure you’re healthy enough for the type of exercise you want to do. Getting active in addition to changing eating habits will put you on the path leading to weight loss success!

Stay updated on all the weight loss news and tips we share by subscribing to the Virtual Weight Management blog via RSS or by entering your email in the top right corner.


Pills and Dried orange slices

Important News on Fraudulent Weight Loss Claims

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There are a lot of myths about weight loss out there, when the only real solution to losing weight is to eat healthy and keep an active lifestyle with regular exercise.

When patients come in frustrated with unsuccessful weight loss efforts, they often contemplate using or consuming diet products that promise results without much effort. I encounter patients on a daily basis asking about these fake weight loss claims endorsed by the supplement industry and television talk show hosts. Many of these “miracle” weight loss products are endorsed by the popular talk show host, Dr. Oz.

Recently, Dr. Oz and his weight loss product claims have come under heavy scrutiny by the government in an effort to protect consumers from false claims about these weight loss supplements. Dr. Oz even stated during his questioning, “I recognize that oftentimes they (the items I talk about on my show) don’t have the scientific muster to present as fact.”

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) also stated during the panel with Dr. Oz that more Americans claimed they were victims of fake weight loss claims than any other type of reported fraud. This is even further proof that these weight loss claims are scams to sell fake products that do not work.

I urge all my patients and anyone interested in weight loss to realize that there is no scientific proof to products claiming to lose excessive amounts of weight in short periods of time. And if the products do happen to work, you’ll probably see most of that weight return as soon as you discontinue taking them and settle back into old, unhealthy habits.

Teaming up with a knowledgeable weight loss expert who has both certifiable education and experience is a great way to help you stay on track toward your goals, especially when you have questions about issues like weight loss supplements. The only way to true weight loss success is taking an active role in your diet and activity, and developing new healthy habits that will lead you to long-term weight loss success.

Stay updated on all the weight loss news and tips we share by subscribing to the Virtual Weight Management blog via RSS or by entering your email in the top right corner.

Two Women Cycling

The Power of Positive Thinking for Weight Loss

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Our outlook on life has a huge impact on how we approach everything we do. When we look at life with a brighter perspective, it transpires into looking at ourselves more positively.

An important piece of advice I always tell my patients is that if you do not believe in yourself and your ability to succeed in weight loss (or anything else in life), you will most likely never reach your goals.

I recently came across a study performed as part of the Women’s Health Initiative, demonstrating how upbeat and optimistic people tend to live a happier and healthier life. It also shows the the power of positive thinking for weight loss.

A better attitude often relates to a better relationship with food, but depressed and negative people tend to participate in more emotional eating of high-calorie and high-carbohydrate foods. But, no one is immune to the blues all the time. When you’re feeling down, here are some tips from the article to avoid unhealthy eating behaviors:

  • Remove junk food from the house that you know you’ll reach for when you’re in a negative emotional state.
  • Find healthy ways to cope with unpleasant emotions, like meeting up with a friend, taking a walk or doing breathing exercises.
  • Practice self-regulation by monitoring your eating habits and your feelings when you want to eat, whether it’s writing in a journal or making mental notes.

In addition to eating healthier and including exercise on a regular basis, a positive outlook with healthy coping behaviors will lead you on the path to success in weight loss, and life!

Stay updated on all the weight loss news and tips we share by subscribing to the Virtual Weight Management blog via RSS or by entering your email in the top right corner.


Shed Virtual Weight in Selfies With New App…Not So Fast

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What will they think of next?

A new app called SkinneePix lets users shed virtual weight and can trim from five to 15 pounds of virtual fat for a slimmer selfie look.

The founder explains more in this article on Reuters:

“Cameras add additional weight to photos and when you’re taking a selfie you’re also dealing with bad lighting, angles, close-ups and a lot of other factors that make people complain that the photo isn’t an accurate representation of themselves,” said Susan Green, co-founder of the Phoenix-based company Pretty Smart Women that created the app.

While I understand Susan’s rationale, this app concerns me that people who use it have self image problems and they could be in denial that they’re facing serious weight problems. This type of denial and self image issues can, in severe cases, lead to eating disorders.

My patients who I’ve helped successfully lose weight noticed significant improvements in their social life and even in their careers. Some were promoted and got a raise due to their new positive outlook on work and life in general. They were more confident, assertive and productive…all due to them getting down to a healthier weight.

If you aren’t happy with your weight and want to look slimmer in selfies, why not talk to a physician who can set you up on a weight loss program, rather than using an app to help you shed virtual weight?

Losing real pounds sounds like a much smarter option to me! Do you agree?

Stay updated on all the weight loss news and tips we share by subscribing to the Virtual Weight Management blog via RSS or by entering your email in the top right corner.

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Weight Loss Success: How Nancy Lost 100 Pounds

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This is a guest post from our patient, Nancy W., who shares her weight loss success story of losing 100 pounds. 

I had always struggled with my weight, and in the end, it seemed my weight just kept going up. Everything seemed to take so much energy; it was easier to just sit in a chair. I was embarrassed to go on trips because of my size, so it simplified matters to just stay home.

I also had high blood pressure, and my doctor told me I was headed toward becoming a diabetic because of all the extra weight I was carrying. I knew my high blood pressure was caused by my weight, and I didn’t want to become a diabetic. I needed help!

When I was taking a college Trigonometry class, my teacher always came in drinking his shake and told us his story of how he had lost weight. Since I kept inquiring about his diet, he placed Dr. Sam’s business card next to my books and told me to make an appointment.

When I made the appointment, I thought his scale was 10 pounds off because it registered 10 pounds less than mine! I didn’t realize how stressed out I was from college and trying to hold a full time job and had lost 10 pounds the month before I met Dr. Sam.

I started the diet with the shakes and bars. I mixed up the flavors of the shakes and bars, having a different one each time, so I wouldn’t get tired of eating or drinking them. I looked to Dr. Sam for guidelines of the food choices I should make in the day, how much protein, veggies and calories I should consume, and I tried to stay within what he suggested.

Getting a gym membership helped me stay focused on what I was trying to achieve. Exercising every day helped tone my body and gave me a positive outlook to stay on track with the diet, which helped me lose the weight.

After losing 100 pounds and going from a size 24/26 to a size 10/12, I feel like a different person with much more energy and a positive outlook on life.

Thank you Dr. Sam and your office staff for the help and support in getting my life back!

Thank you, Nancy, for sharing your weight loss success story with us! We are so proud of you. 


Losing Baby Weight: Important Information You Need to Know

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I recently came across some very important data that supports my message to new mothers that losing baby weight is crucial in order to avoid potential health risks.

From this BBC News Health article:

“There may be a scientific basis for the post-pregnancy adage, ‘Nine months on, nine months off’. Doctors in Canada say three to 12 months after birth is the key time to start losing the ‘baby weight’. Mothers who fail to lose excess weight within a year after delivery or put pounds on may be risking their health, they report in Diabetes Care. Women in this group have higher blood pressure and other risk factors for later diabetes and heart disease.

Women who do not make the effort to lose weight after pregnancy actually increase their chance of developing health problems during the next pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and premature delivery.

I have been working with and educating mothers for the past 15 years on losing baby weight, starting as early as three months after delivery. My team and I also work with future mothers who are planning to have a family but need to lose weight first in order to have a healthy pregnancy.

I encourage women of all ages, whether they just had a baby, had one five years ago or plan to have one soon, to start eating healthy now and to focus on living an active lifestyle – before, during and after pregnancy.

I want women to know that losing baby weight isn’t as cumbersome as they think it is.

Want to talk more about this topic? I’d love to hear from you!

Photo Credit: billnwmsu via Compfight cc