Everything You Need to Know About Going to a Weight Loss Clinic

Johnnie Mae holding a guitar: The term "weight loss clinic" can mean almost anything. Here's what obesity experts say to look for to lose weight safely, and avoid getting scammed.

© Jose Luis Pelaez Inc The term “weight loss clinic” can mean almost anything. Here’s what obesity experts say to look for to lose weight safely, and avoid getting scammed.

Losing weight is easy for no one, and there is zero shame in deciding you need help.

The problem is, between commercial plans, storefront medi-spas, fad diets, wellness influencers hawking unproven supplements, and other kinds of get-thin-quick schemes (some with doctors associated with them), it’s hard to know where to begin.

And for a country as populous as ours—with more than 70% of U.S. adults considered overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—there are relatively few stand-alone, one-stop shopping clinics that allow you to get the multi-disciplinary approach to healthy weight loss that works the best, says Rehka Kumar, M.D., medical director of the American Board of Obesity Medicine (ABOM) and an assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

Why do you want a team? Because carrying too much body weight can lead to or worsen other health issues, so depending on your complicating factors, your pit crew might include a cardiologist, a gastroenterologist, a nutritionist, an exercise physiologist and a behavioral therapist, she says. “If we are all working on different things related to a patient’s weight together, that’s a more comprehensive approach,” says Dr. Kumar, who is also an endocrinologist at the Comprehensive Weight Control Center, part of Weill Cornell Medicine.

Major universities like Cornell often have full-service weight loss programs—Boston University, New York University, and UCLA are just a few—so a university-affiliated research hospital in the nearby city is a good place to start. Geisinger Weight Loss and Bariatric Surgery in Danville, Pa., was mentioned by a few of Prevention’s experts, as was The UT Center for Obesity Medicine and Metabolic Performance in Austin; The Vanderbilt Weight Loss Center in Nashville; The Emory Bariatric Center in Atlanta, and others. The Obesity Medicine Fellowship Council also has a list of universities around the country that offer fellowship programs, which indicates the institution has physicians experienced enough in treating obesity that they are training others.

But if you don’t live close to one of those, you may need to piece it together on your own. Here’s how to get started:

Look for a board-certified obesity medicine specialist.

Your primary care physician is a great person to ask, says Dr. Kumar. Your doc may be certified already (there are currently around 3,000 diplomates in obesity medicine) or able to refer you to someone who is. You can also try the provider locator at the Obesity Medicine Association. “This site will specifically mention doctors that are board-certified in obesity medicine, which means they passed an example and have some minimal competency in this field,” she says.

Obesity Action, an advocacy group that raises awareness about and improves access to the prevention and treatment of obesity, also has a locator for screened providers, and includes input from ABOM and other professional organizations such as the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery and the Obesity Society, says James Zervios, the group’s VP of marketing and communications. While only physicians can be board-certified, this listing features nurse practitioners, dietitians, and mental health pros as well.

If a certified doctor does not have a team in her practice, she will likely have other providers to refer you to, say, an endocrinologist or physical therapist if your weight has caused arthritis or if your hormones are out of balance. They can then communicate to make sure you’re getting a personalized approach.

Pop by for a free consultation.

“A good facility should sit you down for free in a low-pressure setting and explain their approach,” says Craig Primack, M.D., ABOM’s board president and co-founder of the Scottsdale Weight Loss Center in Scottsdale, Ariz.. That conversation should cover what kinds of diets they put together for patients, what sort of exercise counseling they offer, behavior modification (classes or individual nutritional counseling), and what medications they have seen success with. You should expect to be charged for a medical consultation, says Dr. Primack, but not to walk in the door. If you feel like you’re being given a hard sales pitch, you’re likely in the wrong place.

Try telemedicine.

If you don’t live near an academic center or a comprehensive facility, making an initial visit to one, and then doing your follow-up remotely with a doctor near you is an option. “There are parts of the Midwest where you may not have people within 100 to 200 miles,” says Dr. Kumar. Telemedicine uses computer and video technology to allow access to specialists when none are nearby.

Make sure they’re practicing evidence-based medicine.

“Just because the sign says ‘medical weight loss’ doesn’t mean they’re practicing medicine,” says Dr. Primack. Dr. Kumar advises asking if what you’re getting is an FDA-approved treatment or medication. Another sign of a reputable place: they accept and bill insurance. Some doctors, of course, are out of network, but insurance tends to cover therapies that are approved for the treatment of obesity.

Consider your own comfort.

Does the waiting room have furniture that’s designed for bigger people? Is the staff sensitive and nonjudgmental? Is this a place where you feel safe talking about your body? “You might have a very attractive weight loss clinic, but it might not actually be comfortable for patients of a certain size,” says Dr. Kumar.

Check out the equipment.

All weight loss facilities are for people who want to lose a weight, but they’re not all equipped to treat major obesity. Dr. Primack says some of his patients are there to lose a relatively little weight, and some a lot more. “Do they have a scale that goes up to at least 600 pounds?” he asks. And they should have the current technology to measure body fat composition, not a simple scale.

Ask for stats.

“You want to know what the odds are you’re going to benefit from a program,” says Steve Heymsfield, M.D., president of the Obesity Society and a professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in New Orleans. ”Good programs offer real information.” That’s not the same as promising a specific amount of weight loss, he emphasizes. “Be wary of promises, like a guarantee to lose 30 pounds in a month,” says Dr. Kumar. “Not everyone responds the same way to treatment.”

Make sure there’s a solid follow-up plan.

Even if you’re doing well on your program, you want to be in regular touch with your doctors, says Dr. Primack. “Are they continuing to monitor your body fat composition, and are they doing blood work to make sure what you’re doing isn’t harming you?” he asks. Some of his patients come in every month or two, whereas some longer-term patients come in every six months. “Obesity is not cured—it’s treated,” he says. “It’s better to know you have a place that you can go back to.”

Heed these red flags:

  • HCG injections or pills: If a facility offers HCG for weight loss (it stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone women produce when they’re pregnant), walk out the door, say Drs. Kumar and Primack. The HCG Diet, a very low-calorie plan that involves taking HCG supplements, was all the rage a few crazes ago. But there is no FDA-approved over-the-counter HCG drug for weight loss, and the prescription form is meant for fertility issues, and is not effective for weight loss.
  • Claims of miracle results: If anyone says, “I’m going to cure you of your weight problem—that’s a deal breaker,” says. Dr. Primack.
  • Mandatory supplements. “That could be a way some of these borderline places make money, by offering various weeds that you’re going to eat,” says Dr. Heymsfield. “None of them have any efficacy to speak of.” Dr. Kumar agrees. “I’m not saying that there’s no good medicine being practiced there, but it’s important to make sure what they’re doing is evidence-based.”
  • A heavy emphasis on appearance. Of course we all want to look good, and if you feel losing weight will help, that may be one of your motivations. But the focus in a quality facility will be on your health, not on the aesthetic, says Dr. Kumar. “If there’s an emphasis on the cosmetic, that’s a different kind of practice,” she says.

By Stephanie Dolgoff and Prevention Magazine


Intermittent fasting and a new passion helped him lose 95 pounds

In May 2018, Jared Sklar’s wake-up call was waiting for him when he got home from work. He opened the fridge and saw four different pizza boxes from four different restaurants.

“It’s pretty embarrassing, but it’s the truth,” Sklar said. “I just opened the door, and I was just like, ‘What are we doing here?’ ”

At 285 pounds (129 kilograms), he would sit on the couch and watch TV, with no energy left after conquering the work day. Late-night snacks included popcorn and ice cream. The 27-year-old, who works in sales for Corporate Strategies in Woodland Hills, California, knew something had to change.

And gradually, his clothes felt like they were getting smaller every time he did laundry.

“It gets to that point where you realize that you’re getting bigger; the clothes aren’t getting smaller,” he said. “It was that a-ha moment.”

There were other epiphanies as well. Sklar missed the feeling he got when he used to play sports as a teenager. And there was a history of heart disease in his family.

Together, he and his girlfriend, Samathan MacDonald, decided to make a lifestyle change. They had talked about doing it before, but this time, it stuck. They didn’t want to look back 20 years from now and realize they could have made changes to be healthier then.

First, they would start going to the gym. But they didn’t want to put in the hours of fitness without having the right diet to fuel it and bring up their energy levels.

Other diets sounded too quick for what Sklar wanted to do. He researched intermittent fasting and decided to try it as a sustainable long-term option.

Sklar and MacDonald would eat their meals between 12 p.m. and 8 p.m. each day, creating a 16-hour break before eating again. This helped them kick the late-night snacking habit.

“I like time restricted feeding because it allows you to naturally reduce your food intake without counting calories,” said Lisa Drayer, CNN contributor and registered dietician. “You eliminate mindless nibbling in the evening and you’re also eating in sync with your circadian rhythm so you’re front loading your calories, which is more favorable for weight loss.”

They immediately noticed their energy levels start to pick back up as they swapped out pizza for proteins like turkey alongside vegetables, spaghetti squash instead of spaghetti and Greek yogurt bars instead of ice cream.

“When you’re eating only during an eight-hour period, you do want to follow good nutritional guidelines, including protein, fiber, enough fluids in your diet as well,” Drayer said.

Sklar loved eating healthier options, but sometimes had a hard time getting up to go to the gym. For MacDonald, food was a weakness, but she was excited to get up and work out.

“We pushed each in our weak areas,” MacDonald said. “We were on different pages initially but pushed each other to be on the same page, and that was a huge help.”

Sklar was also dealing with a chronic hamstring issue, discovered by his doctor after playing flag football and repeatedly pulling his hamstring before the diet. His doctor recommended low-impact exercise, which led Sklar to try indoor cycling. He went to the gym six days a week and pedaled for 45 minutes each day.

The couple tried working out together, but found they slowed each other down. While Sklar was pedaling at the gym, MacDonald found that working out at a high-intensity interval training studio worked better for her.

fasting couple

© Courtesy Jared Sklar Jared and his girlfriend, Samantha, during their lifestyle change.

Sklar and MacDonald also cut back on carbohydrates and replaced a lot of the red meat in his diet with leaner proteins like fish, chicken or ground turkey. They became more conscious of what they were eating overall, making healthier decisions during their eight-hour window each day.

“If you’re only eating in these eight hours, it’s powerful to choose what you put into your body,” MacDonald said.

The first month, he had lost 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) while cycling and starting intermittent fasting. It continued for the next six months. Sklar fell in love with cycling. The combination of the music and the calories burned during each session fueled him to continue.

Sklar also found motivation when a close family member had to undergo triple bypass surgery in October.

“When you see that person in the hospital going through that, you just think to yourself that you never want that to happen to you, and you want to prevent it from happening to anybody else that you know,” Sklar said. “That was my why. That was a light bulb moment where I knew I had to not only keep this going, lose the weight for me, but I also needed to keep it going for my future self and everybody else around me.”

Over a six to seven-month period, Sklar lost 95 pounds (43 kg). Eventually, one of the instructors pulled Sklar aside and told him he should start teaching an indoor cycling class. He’s been teaching for about six months now.

For MacDonald, the changes have been more mental than physical. She lost 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms) and loves feeling stronger.

“On a busy day, the hour I’m going to the gym is something I’m giving myself,” she said.

When you realize you’re gaining more muscle and feeling better every day, you can feel yourself getting stronger. That was a big thing. I had never stayed with a workout long enough to feel those changes after months. It makes me feel better every day to slowly see these changes in my body.”

In the morning, Sklar usually has a glass of water after getting up. Lunch is at noon, followed by snacks throughout the day. Before a workout, Sklar enjoys peanut butter and jelly on a rice cake.

“I teach a spin class at 5:30 at night, then I’ll have a protein shake and dinner right after, and then I’ll maybe have a small snack at 8:00 p.m. I fast for the rest of the night until noon the next day.”

After the initial weight loss, Sklar and MacDonald are allowing for a little more flexibility if they have a special event. But they are committed to being as healthy and fit as possible for the long-term. Intermittent fasting helped them form healthy habits.

Sklar is also training for a triathlon now.

“There’s always something in front of me to keep me motivated, to make sure that I don’t fall back into my old habits,” Sklar said.

Sklar is continuing to fast and maintain an active lifestyle. He’s more confident , energetic and positive. Sometimes, old friends and coworkers don’t recognize him. As his story spreads, Sklar has been able to reconnect with friends or acquaintances and share advice on weight loss and fitness. Sklar didn’t realize how much it would mean to him.

“I found that in the long run, I was doing it for my friends, as well, because they found inspiration from it,” Sklar said.

Being able to make this lifestyle change with his girlfriend has made all the difference, Sklar said.

“It was hugely beneficial to have a support system with me,” Sklar said. “There’s always going to be those days where you want to cheat and have a pizza, and just having a support system to keep you in check and being responsible for keeping somebody else in check was really important, to me.”

This amazing, motivating story was featured in:


U.S. News’ 41 Best Diets Overall

If your new years resolution included dieting, weight-loss or healthier eating, U.S. News evaluated and ranked 41 diets with input from a panel of health experts. To be top-rated, a diet had to be safe, relatively easy to follow, nutritious and effective for weight loss. It also had to be stellar at preventing diabetes and heart disease. Click on to see which diets came out ahead, and good luck with your resolution !


U.S. News evaluated and ranked 41 diets with input from a panel of health experts. To be top-rated, ... - (Getty Images)


This Woman Makes 80 (Yes, 80!) Look Like 50 By Doing 3 Things Every Day

a person posing for the camera: Learn the 70-20-10 formula that keeps her in such great shape in this excerpt from The Secrets of the World's Healthiest People.

At some point in life, many of us swap our bikini for a one-piece and a cover up.

Not Filomena Warihay. She’s given birth to four children, and turns 80 this October. And when she lounges by the pool or hits the beach, she proudly wears a bikini-and, it must be noted, she looks fabulous.

“I wake up every morning with a drive and a sense of purpose,” Warihay says. “I’ve been blessed with energy and talent and desire to help others be all they can be, and I’m truly grateful.”

In the new book Secrets of the World’s Healthiest People, Warihay says there are three key secrets that have kept her in such great shape.

1) Follow a 70-20-10 diet

That’s 70 percent of calories from fruits, veggies and grains, 20 percent from lean proteins such as chicken and fish, and 10 percent from fat. “It’s a lot of chopping and food prep, which is a challenge, but it’s worth it,” Warihay says.

2) Go running

Warihay didn’t start running until age 40. “My middle daughter got an athletic scholarship, and when she received her training schedule before her freshman year, she saw it included running three miles, three days a week. She said, ‘Mom, will you run with me?’ How could I say ‘no?!’”

Eventually, Warihay was in such good shape, she decided to try a 5K. “Well, didn’t I win the gold in my age group? That was it-I was hooked,” she says.

Warihay won the gold every year from age 40 to 75.

“When it comes to motivation to exercise, it helps to have a goal,” says Steve Bowers, DO, co-author of Secrets of the World’s Healthiest People. “Goal-setting helps boost performance in all types of exercisers, from recreational gym-goers to elite athletes.”

3) Give thanks

Each day, Warihay writes something she’s grateful for and drops the note into her gratitude jar. “The mind-body connection is so clear,” she says.And, yes, it can also help you to stay fit and trim-to the point you can proudly wear a bikini at age 79. “When we’re thankful, we tend to be more positive and happier with ourselves, which makes us more likely to lose weight if we need to and control our weight if we’re already at a healthy number,” Dr. Bowers says.

Adapted from Secrets of the World’s Healthiest People, which profiles dozens of people like Filomena Warihay, along with their health hacks, favorite foods, recipes, and fitness plans. It also includes the 7-Day Weight Loss Jumpstart that helped Dr. Bowers drop 30 pounds.

Alisa Bowman, Elizabeth Shimer Bowers for Prevention


A Trainer Told Reghan to Make These 2 Changes, and They Helped Her Lose 80 Pounds

via A Trainer Told Reghan to Make These 2 Changes, and They Helped Her Lose 80 Pounds

I don’t usually copy these types of weight-loss articles, but I thought this one was unique.  It’s amazing what will-power will do.  I really could use some of it right now.