Tag Archives: weight loss advice

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.


Weight Loss Advice: A “Should” Too Many

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One of the first things we hear when dieting is an enormous amount of weight loss advice in the form of shoulds from family, friends and even complete strangers.

You should use this new diet I read about…

You really should try eating this…

You know, you should start thinking about joining a gym…

With obesity such a pervasive health issue in this country, there are many people who have tried their hand at wellness programs with varying degrees of success – including those health conscious folks who have never suffered a day of true obesity in their lives!

And there are plenty of these individuals who are ready to dispense weight loss advice to you about your own program at almost every opportunity. There’s nothing wrong with getting advice, and some folks have great ideas to help lose weight that really work – but that’s not always the case.

A weight loss regimen really does need to be specific to you, and what works for a work friend or your favorite aunt might be the worst thing you can do for your personal wellness program. This is even more true when entering into a medical weight loss program. The recommendations you get from a weight loss physician, like Dr. Sam, simply have to take precedence over what advice you might get from your best friends.

When I first started on my current diet, I made it a full-blown lifestyle change – changing my eating habits, cooking methods and activity level. Dr. Sam had given me some specific guidelines regarding my diet and exercise options, which I tried to follow to the letter, but I still had plenty of weight loss advice from well-wishing family and friends trying to help me out. While I certainly appreciated all the support, many of the should suggestions weren’t going to work with what my doctor had instructed.

But some suggestions were useful, particularly when it came to foods and carb substitutions.  But in every instance, I did research online before I tried some new food option for my diet, and when it doubt, I asked Dr. Sam!

The bottom line is having a friendly support network is awesome when you’re working hard on a wellness plan. It’s tempting to try the weight loss advice of others, especially if they are successful dieters or naturally health inclined. But the reasons for our weight issues are so varied and so personal that we can’t be sure what is and is not going to work for us.

So when in doubt, you should do your research before you try anything new for wellness, and you should always consult your physician. Those two shoulds are the best shoulds to follow – after all, it’s your weight and your health that matter in the end!

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.


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. 


Setting Weight Loss Milestones (and How to Celebrate Reaching Them)

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In a previous post about the power of negative thinking, I talked about how I used negative thinking to help me overcome my desire for high-carb foods and starchy foods. And I’ve had a great amount of success doing it – so much so that my family and friends shake their heads in disbelief when I easily turn down pasta dishes, breads and desserts.

Controlling my desire for carb-rich foods is one of the reasons I feel I’ve been so successful in my weight loss over the past 13 months – but that doesn’t mean I’ve never indulged now and then. I have a system of weight loss milestones worked out, and I reward myself with one carb-heavy meal every time I hit a new one.

You see, when you set out to work on big project – and weight loss and wellness definitely count as a big project – it’s always advisable to set milestones of achievement (smaller interim goals) between the start and the end goal. When you reach a milestone, it should be a cause for a minor celebration as a way to bolster your resolve and to mark your achievement. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a pat on the back and a reward because it’ll just make you work that much harder to get to your next goal along the way!

When we’re talking about substantial weight loss, the milestones can be set fairly reasonably – giving yourself a little celebration for losing a decent percentage of your weight toward your final goal. So if you are trying to lose, say, 100 pounds, you might consider making every 20 or 25 pounds a weight loss milestone and a reason to celebrate. Of course, you should be careful not to make your milestones too easy to achieve because then they are likely to not feel like much of an accomplishment and defeat the purpose.

I had an enormous amount of weight to lose, starting as I did at 526 pounds. I told myself that I would stick to my food plan and live without eating high carb foods until I had dropped a significant portion of my weight. My first goal I set was 399 pounds.

Now, looking back, that was probably a pretty hard milestone to reach, and I probably should have made my first one at about 450 pounds. But I’m proud to say I still managed to achieve the first milestone I set in only 28 weeks, losing 137 pounds between January 2013 and August 2013!

michael before after

As a reward, I had promised myself I could go to any restaurant of my choosing and order a reasonably sized meal with an appetizer, main course and dessert and enjoy every bite guilt-free for all my hard work. It happened that I was taking a vacation to Virginia and Washington DC the week after I reached my first milestone, so I saved my special dinner until I had the chance to get to the Capital and find a really great restaurant.

My family took me to an amazing place called the Brasserie Beck right on K Street, just down from the Capital Building – a French/Belgian restaurant owned by award-winning chef Robert Wiedmaier. We dined on some truly amazing cuisine, and I can honestly say I think I had the best meal of my life. The crème brûlée was to die for!

But the very next day, I was back to my no high-carb food plan, having thoroughly enjoyed my reward, and looking forward to my next milestone at 349 pounds. Was it hard to go back to eating no carb-rich foods after a meal of boeuf carbonnade and crème brûlée? Surprisingly, not at all. I was darned proud of my weight loss and wanted to get to my next milestone goal with honesty and hard work.

So, set some reasonable weight loss milestones and give yourself a little celebration every time you hit one. It makes dieting a lot more exciting if you know it’s not all drudgery and deprivation along the way.

PS: I should mention that as I write this post, I’m already nearing another milestone of 299 pounds and have plans to go out for a sushi night with my friends once I get there! It makes me really look forward to my next check-up and weigh-in at Dr. Sam’s office – I’m sure I’m going to hit the mark this next appointment! 


Weight Loss Success: How I Learned to Change My Eating Habits

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This is a letter I received from my patient, Annette Wright, who wanted to share her weight loss success story. 

Dear Dr. Sam,

I would like to thank you for everything you have done for me. I have struggled with my weight for many years. I heard about you from a coworker who is seeing you, as well. She had lost a lot of weight under your guidance, and I thought it would be worth talking to you.

After my first visit, you encouraged me and taught me what foods I should stay away from and gave me ideas of what to eat and when. I understood from the very first day I wouldn’t have to go hungry, but just change what I was eating. I started by cutting out a lot of starchy carb-based foods because you said this was what had been causing my issues with my sugar dropping. The first week, I had withdrawals, even though I still had some breads. By the third week, I was ready to cut them out all together.

My husband was a huge help with my weight loss. He gave me many ideas on what to do and try. In the warmer weather, I had a lettuce wrap sandwich for lunch at work. As it got colder and I needed more substance and warmth for the cold, I used beans as a base and added as many veggies as I could, along with seasoning and some cheese. Dinners became a variety of meats and veggies, including homemade sausages.

Early on, I knew I would need to eat some of my old favorites. I decided to see what I could do to make them healthier. I searched the Web and asked you about different food and what would be good bases to start with. That is when I learned how good beans were for me. I started using bean flour in more recipes. It is great as a thickener for soups and stews. My daughter made banana bread with it, and it turned out pretty good! I used it to make bean noodles for lasagna.

I am also a chocoholic. That being said, I needed something I could eat without disrupting my new healthy eating plan. That is when I found an awesome recipe for black bean brownies. These turned out great, and I made sure I had some all through the holidays so I could enjoy these while not feeling left out or being bad with my eating habits. I also made some almond cardamom cookies as a variation.

Other helpful weight loss tactics I have tried include making veggie smoothies in the morning in order to increase my veggie intake. I knew I wouldn’t keep up with it daily, so I cut veggies for three days and keep them in a glass container so they are ready and I don’t have to do it daily.

I am on a tight budget, so I follow a local coupon site to see what is on sale and when to plan my shopping around the best prices. When dining out and the servers bring that big basket of carbs, I send it back so I’m not tempted (after clearing it with my husband!).

I am not big on keeping up with calorie counters, but every so often I enter everything in for a few days to make sure I’m still in the range I want to be. I have also found a few exercise videos that I enjoy, and I walk whenever I can. I work on my feet all day, so some days and times are harder for exercise, but I keep trying to push myself a little more.

Thanks again, Dr. Sam, for all your help, and I hope this letter helps someone else to achieve weight loss success!


Annette Wright


How a Food Journal Helps Supercharge Your Dieting Power

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It’s true – studies have shown that writing down everything you eat or drink helps you lose weight faster and more effectively. Now before you click to close this post in annoyance, please realize that I’ve lost 217 pounds in just 13 months, and I’ve kept a food journal every single day.

Did that get your attention?

You can believe me when I say I was not thrilled about starting a food journal with this latest endeavor to reach a healthy weight last year. The idea of having to write down everything I ate, day-in and day-out, sounded like a completely annoying way to make my dieting experience that much more unpleasant. But I told myself to try it for two weeks, and now a meal or snack can’t go by without noting it in my journal!

A WebMD article discusses one study done in which around 1,700 obese adults were asked to keep a food journal while they tried to maintain a healthy eating habit. The article reported that the dieters who kept a food journal at least six days out of the week lost twice as much weight as those who only kept their journal one day a week, or no journal at all.

And a registered dietician and wellness manager at The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute by the name of Kirstin Kilpatrick wrote an article explaining why food journaling is so effective for helping with weight loss.  She explains it makes you aware of how much you actually eat, think about what you eat before you eat, portion out your food better and gain a better understanding of how food ties into your daily activities and mood.

Tracking my food for more than a year now, I can assure you the food journal does everything Ms. Kilpatrick says it does, and more! It really empowers you while you’re dieting by giving you a solid knowledge of exactly how many calories, carbs, fat, protein and sugars you’re eating meal by meal and for the whole day.

Armed with knowledge like this, you can mentally pre-plan your meals and snacks so you can cheerfully say “no” to those food temptations we all encounter in a day, knowing that you won’t have to write it down. And being able to look back over a day or a week and seeing how much healthier you’re eating is really a very powerful incentive to keep up the good work!

Keeping a food journal doesn’t have to be a chore either, especially now when there are several websites devoted to making your own personal journal. Personally, I use MyFitnessPal.com to log my meals and exercise, mainly because it’s free, has a huge database of food nutrition stats available and has the convenience of an app for smartphones and tablets.

There are other sites, like My-Calorie-Counter.com, FitDay.com, and MyFoodDiary.com to use, depending on your preferences. And if you’re away from a computer and have no portable device, just keep a little note pad in your pocket to write down what you had for a meal or snack so you can enter it later.

Another tip – keeping track of food right after you eat is better than trying to remember what you ate earlier that day.

I encourage you to give food journaling a try, and see if you don’t get hooked on the power and knowledge that you’ll get when you track what you eat, how much you eat and how much more effective you are on your diet.


Obesity Health Problems: Why All Doctors Don’t Think the Same

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… you just need diet and exercise.

… referring you to see a dietician.

… do you think you have an eating disorder?

… you need to diet harder.

How many times have you heard lines like these from your family doctor?

In my case, I simply lost count sometime after trying to get my fourth doctor involved in my obesity health problems. As an obese kid, I heard these stock phrases from my pediatrician first, then a sports doctor when I went out for the high school wrestling team. A college physician on campus hit me with the same stock phrases, as did my fourth doctor… and the fifth… and the sixth!

In every instance, I consulted one of my doctors when I found myself stuck in a dieting “limbo” – losing weight slowly, or stuck simply maintaining my weight despite the fact that I was dieting like a madman. But not once did a doctor take a personal interest in my obesity beyond telling me to “diet harder”, or referring me to a psychologist for an eating disorder or a dietician to offer me a new “wellness plan.”

I’m guessing that I’m not the only chubby guy or gal out there who has heard the same thing when they consulted with their doctor, right?

And time and again I kept failing at diets, gaining back the weight, and then a bit more than I lost. I’d try a new diet, hit limbo again, talk to my doctor and get no answers – and inevitably fail at my diet. And this went on for years – more than 35 years to be exact – until I found a doctor who took my obesity health problems seriously.

That was Dr. Sam.

When I first went to see Dr. Sam in 2013, I had ridden the diet-fail-diet-again rollercoaster all the way up to 526 pounds! But my experiences with this new doctor were nothing like what I had dealt with when I visited all my previous physicians.

Dr. Sam asked me detailed questions about my obesity history – from my dieting habits and the types of diets I had tried, to how much weight I had lost at one time and how often I ended up in dieting limbo. We discussed how much I exercised, the types of foods I ate and how much I snacked in a typical day.

And then he did something not one of my previous physicians had done, no matter how many times I told them dieting just never worked: He ordered a small series of blood tests to check for obesity-causing syndromes!

Honestly, I was a little surprised when Dr. Sam told me they were testing for medical issues associated with obesity. Not one of my previous doctors had even hinted that there might be something wrong with my body – other than the obvious one of being obese – which might be causing me trouble losing weight.

So you can imagine my surprise when I learned I didn’t have just one medical issue related to obesity and weight gain – I had three!

Thankfully, all these obesity-related syndromes were easily treatable. And so when I started up a new low-carb, high-protein diet last year, while finally under treatment for those syndromes, I really started losing weight. A lot of weight – like 217 pounds in 13 months!

And I’m still losing!

So before you let your family doctor tell you that you only need to diet and exercise, or a new diet from a dietician, or to see about your “eating disorder”, make sure there isn’t something more to your weight control issues. Consulting a medical specialist in obesity/weight loss issues might well make the difference between another failed diet or a new healthy you!