Author Archives: Mike Evans

About Mike Evans

Mike Evans is a patient of Dr. Sam's and Virtual Weight Management ambassador, as well as a review writer, blogger and communications manager. He's been battling obesity for more than 30 years and is finally winning his personal struggle to be at a healthy weight. Mike wants to share his experiences and knowledge with others about how he lost weight so anyone can be a obesity survivor and live the life they deserve to live. Mike is compensated for his contributions to the Virtual Weight Management blog, but all opinions and experiences are his own.

Low Carb Easy Recipe #2: Faux Pancakes

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If you’re eating a low-carb diet as part of your weight loss program, breakfast time can start to get a little boring after awhile. Many foods enjoyed during the first meal of the day are awfully high in carbohydrates – oatmeal, muffins, toast, cereal, waffles, pancakes – and the list goes on and on!

I’ve tried a lot of different ways to make breakfast interesting, but there are only so many ways you can make eggs or an omelet, and even Greek yogurt and fruit gets a bit boring after awhile. One Saturday morning, I woke up and just had to have something different for breakfast, something that really would satisfy a craving – I made pancakes.

Well, not genuine pancakes. “Faux pancakes” would be a more accurate description. In fact, they might be a little closer to a crepe, but they are quick and easy to make. Having a stack of silver dollar-sized faux pancakes with sugar-free maple syrup is a little touch of heaven when you’re eating as low-carb as possible! Here’s the low-carb easy recipe for my breakfast creation:

Mike’s Silver Dollar (Faux) Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbs. water
  • 1 tbs. soy flour
  • 1 tbs. almond flour
  • ½ tbs. artificial sweetener (I use Splenda, or you could use Stevia)
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • Non-stick low-calorie cooking spray

Instructions:

  1. Using two separate, small bowls, beat the two eggs and water together in one, and mix all the dry ingredients together in the other.
  2. Add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients and whisk for about 2 minutes or until most of the clumps disappear.
  3. Spray a non-stick pan or griddle, and heat it before cooking your pancakes. Use a large spoon to add the batter to the griddle to make the pancakes about 2” in diameter. Cook to your preference as you would any other standard pancake.

Yield: 1 serving (3-4 small pancakes)

Estimated Nutrition:

Calories: 233   Carbs: 5   Fat: 17   Protein: 17   Sodium: 380   Sugar: 1

You can easily double or quadruple the recipe to serve more diners as needed. The recipe is gluten-free, high in protein and low in carbs, which is perfect for my own high-protein, low-carb diet! Obviously, adding a little butter and sugar-free maple syrup will increase the calories a bit, but when you start off this low, the extras aren’t going to ruin this delicious low-carb breakfast treat!

How to Beat Summer Diet Pitfalls

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During the first year of my wellness plan, there were definitely some “hard times” during certain months on my calendar. I started dieting in January of 2013, so I did not have to immediately deal with the “food angst” many of us feel around the holidays of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had more than nine months to get into a rhythm before I had to tackle the holidays.

Actually, the first real challenge I faced with my new wellness plan came as late spring heralded the coming summer months.

On the positive side, the change in weather and warm days are a great incentive to get me out of the house and be more active in general. Keeping busy helps me avoid snacking, and this time of year tends to see the prices drop for the healthy meats, vegetables and fruits I still use when preparing low-carb/high-protein meals as part of my summer diet.

But, there’s a negative aspect to the great weather and all-around fun of the summer months – the constant challenge of what to do while eating away from home. Summertime brings road trips, vacations and attending countless picnics and barbecues. There are so many temptations and opportunities to break your summer diet regimen!

We could make excuses to ourselves that sound like, “Well, it is just a picnic on the Fourth of July, so I can just have whatever they’re having,” or “I am on vacation, so it shouldn’t matter if I eat this.”

We’re tempted to not worry about our wellness plans here and there. Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with the occasional self-indulgence during the warm summer days as a reward, like I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts. However, if your summer schedule is anything like mine, then there are many get-togethers, events and parties, and those little moments of self-indulgence can really start adding up. Be conscious of this so all your hard work doesn’t suffer a setback.

As we move into summer, I thought I’d offer some of the ways I managed to get through last summer maintaining a healthy high-protein/low-carb summer diet:

  • Bring Your Own Food (BYOF): Don’t let other people decide what you’re going to eat at a cookout or picnic. Instead, take the initiative to make sure there is healthy food there for you to eat by bringing it yourself. Make a nice salad or deviled eggs with low-carb/low-fat ingredients as your dish “to pass,” and you‘ll know there is one side you can eat. Also, bring your own choice of meat, like marinated chicken kabobs or a lean hamburger – chances are your host won’t begrudge you a little space on the grill, and you’ll have a decent meal without breaking your diet!
  • Pack a cooler with health: When traveling on a road trip, take the time to pack your cooler with healthy and easy-to-eat foods you can enjoy in the car. Bags of cheese cubes or a tin of peanuts are nutritious alternatives to chips and pretzels. A granny smith apple or a few strawberries are portable and provide a low-carb alternative for something sweet. Don’t forget to pack lettuce leaves, sliced lean meats and cheeses to make yourself a healthy wrap when your family stops at some fast food place for a quick bite.
  • Be decisive at meal time: When on vacation, it’s all too easy to let traveling companions decide where to eat out, but don’t hesitate to be assertive! Be the decisive one in the group and recommend a restaurant to visit, and choose one that will have healthy options on the menu. Chinese cuisine can allow you to select low-carb stir fries, while a good steakhouse guarantees you’ll have a choice of a lean protein and a salad. Almost every pancake house offers omelets and other egg dishes, which do not have to be accompanied by toast or flapjacks if you request it.

With little effort, eating away from your home in the summertime doesn’t have to mean losing ground on your wellness plan. Keep dropping those pounds all season long by making healthy meal choices, and let yourself enjoy a fun-filled, guilt-free summer!

Do you have other healthy summer diet tips to share?

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How a Psychologist Can Help You Lose Weight

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For many of us, obesity has had a major impact on our lives for years at a time, and in some cases, decades. Being obese has affected our health, our relationships, our careers and even our lifestyles. Because of this, it’s easy to let our attention focus on the physical aspects of our wellness and neglect the other significant component: the mental and emotional aspects of obesity.

I don’t need to tell anyone who has experienced serious long-term or short-term weight issues how damaging obesity can really be. Emotions like self-loathing, shame, depression and guilt are with us daily when we suffer with chronic obesity.

Perhaps you’re like me. In the past, you’ve tried to lose weight and were not successful at losing and keeping the weight off, despite trying several different diets. Now you can add feelings of embarrassment and personal failure to the pile of negative emotions you already feel.

With all that emotional negativity building up inside us, it’s likely that our resolve will be undermined with despair, which is extremely detrimental to our chances of success with medical weight loss. This is an area where a mental health professional like a psychologist can help you lose weight.

One of the promises I made to myself when I started seeing Dr. Sam was to also see someone who could help me with my depression. I was forced to admit to myself how long I’d been suffering with depression from being massively obese. I also experienced honesty in acknowledging that these feelings sometimes drove me to binge eat and feel like giving up on the goal of losing weight. In fact, I almost decided not to go meet with Dr. Sam for my first appointment because I couldn’t stand the idea of starting yet another diet, which I was convinced would be doomed to fail.

I guess I’ve already managed to prove myself wrong there, didn’t I?

Now that I had Dr. Sam and his staff behind me as my team to guide and support me in the physical aspects of losing weight, I needed another team member to help coach me in putting aside my depression and help me to truly believe that I could succeed – despite all my previous dieting failures.

As luck would have it, the psychologist I chose knew Dr. Sam and had worked with him before. Bringing her onto my wellness team was a perfect fit because she and Dr. Sam could now discuss my case from both a physical and emotional point of view. Their collaboration outlined the best ways to motivate and encourage me to keep pushing toward my goal.

In fact, I still see my psychologist periodically, despite my continued steady success over the past 16 months. At the time that I’m writing this blog, I’ve lost 245 pounds to date, and that kind of change in my life is beyond profound! When experiencing a major change like this, it’s wonderful to have someone coaching you through everything and giving you perspective; that’s what my psychologist does for me.

I would urge anyone considering medical weight loss with Dr. Sam to also think about having a psychologist as part of your support team. You will be surprised how much a mental health professional like a psychologist can help you lose weight and overcome your mental barriers. Dr. Sam will definitely be there to support your personal physical health, but you owe it to yourself to not neglect your emotional health, as well. It just might make all the difference in how awesome your weight loss success will be!

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Obesity Digest – Obesity in the News Today

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I guess it comes as no surprise that I tend to keep an eye out every week for news articles and stories regarding obesity and weight loss. As some might say, I have a dog in this fight. Battling my obesity is one fight I plan to win – and information is key!

So, here are a few obesity news articles that caught my eye and may be of interest to our readers:

LA Times – Girls called ‘too fat’ are more likely to become obese, study finds

This article really hit me on a very visceral level, as I really hate that some people out there believe “fat shaming” is a viable motivational tool to get obese people to diet. As someone subjected to many, many years of “fat shaming” by well-meaning family and friends, I already knew how counterproductive it can be to one’s feelings about him or herself, and consequently, on his or her outlook on life.

It’s nice to see there is a study that shows how “fat shaming” can not only be counterproductive, but actually increases the probability that an obese child will be likely to become an even more obese young adult.

Huffington Post – What Causes Obesity? Top Cardiology Journal Spreads Confusion

It’s troubling to see how far behind the times that some members of the medical community are in regard to the why’s and how’s of obesity. Thankfully, Dr. Jeff Ritterman posted this excellent piece debunking a study in the Journal of American College of Cardiologists. In my opinion, this physician points the blame directly where it should be pointed – not at the obese patients who aren’t active enough to burn calories, according to Journal’s findings, but at the companies that present an endless variety of sugar-filled beverages, candy and carbohydrate-rich foods to American consumers.

I’ve long been a proponent that, as a nation, we should not be subsidizing “bad” foods and beverages loaded with sugar and carbs with taxpayer dollars as we do. Instead, we should shift those tax dollars to subsidize industries that provide good, whole foods like fresh meats, vegetables and fruits. Let’s face it, as dieters, we know the world around us is teeming with cheap, carb-heavy foods in every direction, but what we really need are more healthy, affordable options for food.

Isn’t it troubling that eating healthy food is so much more expensive than eating the bad carb-loaded stuff?

USA Today – Couric’s ‘Fed Up’ documents kids’ obesity crisis

Speaking of obesity and the food industry, this article takes a look at the new documentary by Katie Couric, Fed Up. It opened nationwide on Friday, May 9th and looks the relationship between childhood obesity and the modern food industry square in the face.

Certainly, one can’t blame poor food choices and bad eating habits on the fast food and junk food industries alone. But, it seems that this film reveals some disturbing facts about how the suppliers of junk food, fast food and sugar-rich sodas have used some pretty awful tactics to get kids hooked on bad food at a very young age. Personally, I really look forward to seeing what this documentary has to say, and I have a feeling many of us who struggle with obesity might gain some insights viewing a movie like Fed Up.

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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!

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Low Carb Easy Recipe: Mole Chili Con Carne

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One of the most frustrating things we have to deal with during any diet is the feeling that you’re being deprived from eating good food. Depending on the type of diet you’re on, what we would typically consider really good tasting foods are now forbidden to us, while we watch family and friends happily enjoying them all around us.

When I started my current wellness plan, the limitations on sugar, carbohydrates and sodium prescribed by Dr. Sam felt like torment! So many foods were instantly removed from my list, and my list of potential ingredients seemed to dwindle every time I visited the grocery store.  What I really wanted was to make something that was great tasting and felt like it was off my diet, but it actually wasn’t.

I wanted a low carb easy recipe, so I started experimenting with what possible ingredients I could still use to make a really good pot of chili. Personally, I can eat chili year round, and it’s one of those meals that will have plenty of leftovers – a great thing if you’re trying to stretch your grocery dollars!

My final recipe draws elements of mole style cooking, combined with Texas style no-bean chili. Going bean-less really lowers the carbs!

Mike’s Mole Chili Con Carne

  • 2.5 pounds of lean ground sirloin (optionally, you can use a 50/50 combination of ground round and lean ground turkey)
  • 1 large green pepper – diced
  • 1 large yellow onion – diced
  • 4-6 oz. of fresh chili peppers – diced (I usually use a combination of 3 serranos, 2 jalapeños and one habenero – I like spicy!) Note: When dicing the chili peppers, latex gloves are recommended to avoid burnt fingertips.
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 large can of low sodium crushed tomatoes (28 oz.)
  • 1 large can of low sodium stewed diced tomatoes (28 oz.)
  • 2 cups of water

Spices:

  • 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons of chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme (dried)
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano (dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar substitute

Preparation:

  • Brown the ground beef in a stew pot in the olive oil, breaking the meat up into fine pieces.
  • Add the diced onion and green pepper, cooking it in the meat until the onion starts to turn a little translucent.
  • Add the chili peppers and all the spices, mixing them into the meat/veggie mixture until everything is well coated with spices.
  • Stir in the canned tomatoes and crushed tomato, and then add the water, stirring everything together well and continuously until the pot comes to a light simmer.
  • Reduce heat to medium/low, and let it cook uncovered. Simmer the chili for 4-6 hours, stirring once every 30 minutes while the chili reduces.
  • Serve with shredded cheddar cheese on top.

Yields approximately eight 10-12 oz. servings.

Estimated Nutritional Statistics

Calories: 411 | Carbs: 29 | Fat: 18 | Protein: 34 | Sodium: 610 | Sugar: 14

I’ll be sharing more from my low carb easy recipe files in the near future!

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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! 

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How to Manage Your Weight Loss With the Power of Negative Thinking

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We hear it all the time from friends, family and co-workers telling us there is power in “positive thinking.” And when you’re dieting and trying to reach your weight loss goal, thinking positive is great advice. It helps keep us upbeat when our goal seems far away and helps us to envision how good we’re going to feel when we reach a healthy weight.

Positive thinking leads to a positive attitude, and when making a major life change, we need to have a good mental outlook.

But you don’t hear much about how to manage your weight loss with “negative thinking.” This mindset can be a powerful tool in our weight loss arsenal to help keep us motivated and strong willed.

After I was diagnosed with non-diabetic insulin resistance as one of the main causes behind my trouble losing weight, I asked Dr. Sam what sort of diet I should be on. He gave me some fairly general guidelines, allowing me the latitude to make my own menus and food plans. But one guideline he gave me was the hardest to wrap my head around: No starches and no carb-heavy foods.

That meant I would have to give up bread, rice, potatoes, chips, pretzels, candy, sugary pop and a whole list of other foods that, let’s face it, are really great to eat and snack on. And the carbs I did allow myself to have had to come only from vegetables and low sugar fruits. But when you’re diagnosed with insulin resistance, high carb foods are completely counter to the medication you’re taking and will push back against all your diet and exercise plans.

The first few days after I gave up carbs were terrible! I felt deprived and angry. It felt unfair, especially watching other people around me enjoying “normal” foods without a care in the world.

But then I had a realization about how I needed to change my attitude about carbs, an attitude which would put some perspective on my new reality: an obese man with a dangerous disease that could kill me if left uncontrolled.

I needed to have a negative attitude about high carb foods and see them for what they truly were to me – TOXIC. I resolved to think about high-carb foods in exactly those terms.

From that point on, every time I saw a basket of bread, cake, pie or loaded baked potato, I thought to myself, “That’s toxic… if you eat that stuff, it’s as deadly to you as eating rat poison. Don’t do it!”

It may sound harsh to think like that, but it was also a very empowering. It allowed me to quickly push away temptations to snack on chips, or eat candy, or even think about making a sandwich with bread. It made those foods feel dangerous and risky to eat, which they are when you’re trying to control your blood sugar and insulin resistance.

Every meal I ate with no high carbs made it easier to eat my next meal without heavy starchy foods. Every day that went by that I succeeded in keeping my total carbs low, it became easier and easier, until I didn’t even think of carb-rich foods as anything I would want to eat regularly.

It’s not easy to live a low carb life in a world filled with high carb foods, but with the right negative attitude, you can put those carb-heavy foods in their place and give yourself the power to control what you eat and how you manage the food choices you make.

Have feedback or questions for me on how to manage your weight loss with negative thinking? Share in the comments.

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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.

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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!