How to Avoid the New Year’s Slump to Reach Your Goals

reach goals


At this point in January, you may find that you’ve lost motivation and have gotten off track in sticking with the health resolutions you set for this year. Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up over it. You are far from alone! According to U.S. News, 80 percent of goal-setters drop their New Year’s resolutions by February.

So how do you pick yourself back up and stop yourself from throwing in the towel completely? Below are five tips to get you back on track so you can feel good about accomplishing your goals come December.

1. Revisit your “why”

There will be plenty of days when you don’t feel like doing what it takes to get healthy. The couch may be calling you to stay cozy instead of lacing up your sneakers and getting outside for a walk in the cold. When this happens, you need to know your “why” — the true, deep reason you want to achieve your goal.

For example, are you looking to lose weight? While looking better and being able to wear certain clothes are certainly good benefits of losing weight, they may not be strong enough reasons for you to commit to healthy eating and exercise over the long term. Getting healthy so you can be around to enjoy your grandchildren or to have the energy to give back to a cause you truly care about are some deeper reasons that may pull you off the couch time and again.

In a nutshell, when you have a strong connection to the reason for your goal, you are much more likely to be successful in reaching it.

2. Be realistic

Make sure your goals are attainable and avoid an “all or nothing” mentality. For example, don’t resolve to NEVER eat ice cream or French fries again. Instead, avoid these foods most of the time but allow yourself to mindfully indulge (and enjoy doing so without guilt) from time to time.

3. Break down big goals into small steps

Set small, attainable goals to work on each week that will help you work toward your larger goals. For each goal, write down every possible action you can think of that you will need to take to reach that goal. Then put the first few actions, or steps, on your calendar. Once those are done, add the next few steps and so on.

4. Track your progress

Keep track of and celebrate each small success to help you stay motivated. If your end goal is to lose 25 pounds, focus on 5 pounds at a time. Each time you lose 5 pounds, acknowledge and celebrate this smaller step toward your larger goal. Some ideas to celebrate might be going to the movies with a friend or buying yourself some new fitness gear.

One great way to track your progress is by keeping a food and/or exercise journal. You’ll be able to look back in your journal to remind yourself of all your hard work and see how far you’ve come. This is a great tool to keep you moving forward whenever you feel you’re losing steam or getting frustrated.

5. Enlist help

Decide how you will deal with the temptation to skip your workout or grab a few cookies before dinner. Think about what works best for helping you to stay on track.

It may be as simple as reminding yourself of your “why” and thinking about how giving into temptation will derail you from the better future you want to create for yourself. If you need outside support and accountability, have a trusted friend or family member who you know you can call to help you when you’re facing temptation. Have a friend who is also working toward health resolutions? Propose that you’ll be each other’s accountability partners!

The key is to not let yourself get down when you occasionally get off track — life happens! Take it one day at a time and do the best you can each day. Remember, you still have 11 months to work toward your goals. Apply these tips and you’ll find yourself making great progress in no time.

Strategies for keeping your healthy lifestyle on track

It’s been proven over and over again that eating a good, nutritious diet and sticking to a daily exercise regimen is the most reliable way to lose weight and keep it off.

But committing to a healthy lifestyle is no easy feat. It’s a long journey, filled with speed bumps and occasional wrong turns.

So how do you keep up the hard work of living healthy? Here are some strategies to help you stay on track.

Lean on friends and family

Involving a few family members or friends can be crucial to finding the support you need on your journey. Find people who you trust, who you know love you and who will be non-judgmental about your new lifestyle.

Instead of eating a high-protein, low-carb dinner by yourself, invite your people over and share a dinner with them. Talk to your people about how you feel about your progress. Be willing to accept their support, and listen to what they have to say.

Bounce back from bad days

Discipline is key to a healthy lifestyle. But you will have moments of weakness, when you eat too much of something you shouldn’t or miss a few days of exercise. That’s OK.

The most important thing is to not beat yourself up about it. Just wake up the next morning and commit to eating your healthy meals and getting your exercise in. You’ll be surprised how much easier this journey is when you don’t blow your small mistakes out of proportion.

Keep a long-term perspective

On this blog, we’ve talked a lot about steering clear of “lose-weight-quick!” schemes and fad diets that promise fast results.

Here’s the truth: Losing weight and achieving your health goals will take time. Putting in the work over a period of time is the only healthy and effective way to lose weight and keep it off.

By looking at the long term, it’s easier to look past minor setbacks or seemingly slow progress. Keeping your expectations realistic means you won’t psych yourself out of a process that takes time.

Plan, plan, plan 

The sad fact is it’s easy to be unhealthy. When you’re busy with work, errands and family and friends, it can be simpler just to pick up fast food and veg out on the couch. Using your time wisely and getting ahead of daily stresses and tasks can help you keep your health commitments.

One example of this is meal planning. Instead of preparing entire meals every day, use the weekends to prep meals for the week. That can mean cooking enough chicken breast, salmon and/or tofu on the weekends to last you the week, and/or chopping all your veggies and packing all your salads for the week.

And the planning shouldn’t stop there. Always think ahead to make sure that, no matter what’s going on in your life, you can eat healthy and work out. Going on a vacation? Call ahead to find out if there’s a gym you can work out in. Having a dinner out with friends? Have a look at the menu beforehand to pick the healthiest item.

Be positive

Finally, stay positive and don’t dwell on negative thoughts. There will be lots of difficult moments on your health journey, but you’ll be surprised how much easier it becomes when you choose to be positive about it. You’re doing the hard work to improve your life — you have good reason to be happy with yourself.

5 Feel-Good Ways to Track Your Weight Loss Without a Scale

Staying committed to a weight loss routine can be very difficult. While keeping track of the number on the scale is an important part of your weight loss journey, it doesn’t have to be the only way to track your progress towards a healthier you.

In fact, there are many simple ways you can keep track of the hard work you’re putting into your weight loss and the very real results you’re getting out of it.

Here are a few ways you can take stock of your progress and stay laser-focused on your goal of being healthy without even stepping on the scale.

track your weight loss


Take pictures of yourself to document your weight loss journey.

A picture is worth a thousand words, especially when it comes to weight loss. When you’re working every day to lose weight through physical activity and a good diet, nothing is more motivating than seeing your body transform.

Take a picture of yourself every week during your weight loss journey. After a couple of months, you’ll start to notice the changes in your body shape and definition. It feels good to look good, so make sure you remind yourself of how your efforts are paying off.

If you want an added bit of encouragement, consider sharing your photos with close friends and family or, if you’re comfortable doing so, with the wider public on your Facebook or Instagram account. It’s exhilarating to receive support and validation from others as you transform yourself.

Keep an exercise journal.

Any good weight loss plan involves daily physical exercise. One simple way to keep track of your body’s strength and cardiovascular fitness is to keep an exercise journal.

Before you strength train, write down the exercises you plan on performing. Then, as you finish an exercise, write down how much weight you used, how many sets you completed and how many repetitions you did per set.

The same goes for cardio. Write down the type of cardio you plan to do. Then, once you finish, write down the level of intensity and the amount of time you performed the exercise.

If you are diligent with your exercise journal, you’ll start to see a trend toward greater fitness. Your strength training numbers will show that you’re able to lift heavier weights (which is a sign of muscular health), and that your cardio endurance is increasing (a sign that your heart is stronger).

Set and meet daily wellness goals.

Let’s face it: Living a healthy lifestyle is demanding. But just because you may not be able to commit to every healthy habit 100 percent of the time (we’re all human!) doesn’t mean you should throw your hands up and refuse to do anything at all.

A good way to make sure that you’re making constant progress is to set daily wellness goals. Every night, write down three wellness goals for the next day. It can be performing an hour of physical activity, walking 10,000 steps or eating five servings of fruit and veggies. At the end of the day, check in to see if you made good on your goals.

By setting up and hitting small, daily targets over and over again, you’ll see major long-term progress.

Involve a close friend or family member.

It doesn’t have to be lonely on the path to healthy living. Recruit at least one other person, such as a close friend or family member, to provide you with an outsider’s impression of your progress.

Even if your progress starts to become normal to you, another person can help you notice positive changes. Their goodwill and perspective can remind you of the progress you’ve made and give you the fuel to keep pushing.

Try on your old jeans.

As you progress through your weight loss journey, it’s important to acknowledge that the transformation you’ve made is a result of your hard work. If you’ve just pushed through a grueling workout or are craving your favorite old junk food, walk into your closet and try on your old jeans.

Seeing your progress in the inches you’ve lost from your waistline and the pounds you’ve shed from your midsection is sure to light up your day. Do it every couple of months, and you’ll give yourself the added motivation to keep chugging along.

As we’ve mentioned on this blog many times, weight loss is a journey. There are many milestones along the way. It’s important to stop every now and then and take stock of the distance you’ve traveled. Not only will it show you how far you’ve come, but it’ll give you the energy and inspiration to go even further.

The Health Benefits of Walking

health benefits of walkingFrom limited free time to sore joints, it’s easy to find yourself discouraged when it comes to daily exercise. The good news? There are plenty of low-impact options that don’t require an expensive gym membership. In fact, one of the best ways to kick-start weight loss and fight associated diseases like depression and diabetes is one of the simplest: walking.

What Can Walking Do For Me?

The real question is what can’t walking do. From heart health to lower blood pressure and regulated blood sugar, walking is a great way to benefit all systems of the body. A brisk walk taken daily (or even just a few times a week) is shown to reduce the risk of osteoporosis, as well as breast and colon cancer.

Walking is an easy, cost-free investment in your overall health. Not only does walking extend your lifespan by keeping chronic diseases at bay, but it also improves your quality of life: walking is a great way to trim your waist (and tone those calves, if you throw in a few hills) so you’ll feel strong and confident. The daily dose of Vitamin D that you’ll get from walking outdoors—as well as the rush of feel-good endorphins—is shown to be an effective antidepressant.

Walking and Weight Loss

Complicated workout plans are notoriously difficult to stick with. Walking at a moderate pace, however, is often enjoyable for most people, which means that it’s easy to incorporate into a daily routine. Whether you’re walking solo or with a group (don’t forget your favorite pet!), 30 minutes of brisk walking five days a week provides the aerobic exercise you need to help maintain your goal weight. Walking is especially beneficial for patients recovering from bariatric surgery, since it’s a low-impact, self-directed activity that lets you go at your own pace.

Getting Into a Routine

When you’re walking for fitness, you’ll get maximum benefits if you pay a little extra attention to your posture. Engage your core by standing up tall and looking straight ahead, and minimize impact by walking smoothly, rolling from heel to toe. Pumping your arms just slightly will keep those muscles toned, while choosing a few hills is great, low-impact form of strength training. Depending on your fitness level, you may need to work your way up to the recommended 30-60 minutes a day, five days a week. Just remember that, no matter where you start, the most important thing is that you do start.

Dr. Dirk’s weight-loss patients are often advised to embrace walking as an enjoyable way to keep weight off post-surgery. Whether you’re looking for lakeside trails or you march right through the center of town, incorporate the things you love into your daily walks to ensure that you stick with your regimen.

Dr. Dirk Busts 5 Common Diet Myths

5 Common Diet Myths

Nutrition and diet can be tricky subjects, especially with the amount of misinformation that can be found on the internet. Unfortunately, diet myths are widespread, and you’ve probably come across one or more of them in your efforts to lose weight.

In this post, Dr. Dirk will dispel some of those diet and nutrition myths to help you make smarter, healthier choices about food.

Myth No. 1: Fad diets can help me lose weight and keep it off.

If your goal is long-term weight loss and good health, avoid fad diets.

Fad diets tend to focus on fast weight loss by reducing your food intake or by avoiding certain foods altogether. Such diets can be nearly impossible to follow long-term, because it’s very difficult to keep certain foods out of your diet for good. Many people on fad diets give up after a while and end up putting the weight back on.

Dr. Dirk recommends…

The most reliable way to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way is to commit to a high-protein, low-carb diet eaten in small, regular meals, and to participate in daily physical activity.

Focus on getting lean proteins (skinless chicken breast, salmon, lean red meat), complex carbs (brown rice, quinoa, beans), and a variety of colorful vegetables in your diet. This combo will deliver the best mix of calories and essential nutrients for your body.

Myth No. 2: Eliminating carbs from my diet can help me lose weight.

Complex carbs, such as whole grains, provide an essential source of nutrients, such as dietary fiber, iron, B vitamins and more. By totally eliminating carbs from your diet, you also lose out on the body’s main source of fuel.

Dr. Dirk recommends…

Carbohydrates are an essential part of a healthy diet. If you’re trying to lose weight or keep it off, your goal should be to consume a high-protein, low-carb (not no-carb) diet, with an emphasis on complex carbs, such as whole grains (brown rice, whole-wheat bread, quinoa, etc.) instead of refined or simple carbs (white rice, white bread, candy, soda).

Myth No. 3: Some people can eat whatever they want and never gain weight.

There are a range of factors that can influence your weight, including genetics, age and lifestyle habits.

But gaining or losing weight is mainly a matter of calories. Simply put, if you burn more calories than you consume in a day, you’ll lose weight. If you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight.

Dr. Dirk recommends …

Since losing weight boils down to burning more calories than you consume, your goal should be to consume a healthy amount of calories per day, and to perform enough physical activity in order to burn those calories and more.

Physical activity doesn’t have to be high-intensity — it can be as simple as taking a walk or dancing. The most important thing is that you get up and move each day.

Myth No. 4: Skipping meals is a good way to lose weight.

People who skip meals tend to overeat at their next meal. Instead of consuming two small meals of 300-400 calories each, they might eat one meal of 600-800 calories.

Studies show that when two groups of people eat similar calorie amounts — one in multiple smaller meals, the other in one large meal — the meal skippers exhibit elevated fasting glucose levels and delayed insulin response, which could contribute to diabetes over time.

If that isn’t persuasive enough, studies also show a link between skipping breakfast and obesity.

Dr. Dirk recommends…

A better way to approach weight loss is to consume smaller meals throughout the day, instead of hitting your body with a giant dose of calories after hours of hunger.

Myth No. 5: Low-fat or fat-free means fewer calories.

While a low-fat or fat-free version of a food can be lower in calories than a full-fat version, that’s not always the case.

Low-fat and fat-free foods often undergo processing to remove fat. In order to maintain the taste and texture of the food, manufacturers often add ingredients, such as flour, salt, starch or sugar. That means that some low-fat or fat-free food products can have more calories than a full-fat product.

Dr. Dirk recommends…

Always read the nutrition label to check the calories contained in a serving size.

There are a lot of lingering diet myths online. Always be sure to do your research and talk to a doctor to find out whether your nutrition choices are backed up by facts. You may be surprised at what you learn.

The Dangers of Weight-Loss Supplements

Weight-Loss Supplements

If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ve probably been tempted by weight-loss supplements. These products claim to help you shed pounds faster, but are they too good to be true?

In a word, yes. Weight-loss supplements are largely ineffective and can even be dangerous.

At best, weight-loss pills and supplements deliver very modest results only to some people.

The reality is that there is no get-thin-quick solution. If your goal is to lose weight, “miracle” weight-loss pills and supplements simply won’t deliver.

There are a variety of weight-loss pills and supplements, including prescription and nonprescription drugs, herbal medicines and other dietary supplements.

Studies of prescription medicines have shown that they produce, at best, very little weight loss in only some people. Plus, those limited benefits only come to those who have already made appropriate lifestyle changes.

Even if a pill or supplement is advertised as “clinically proven,” it doesn’t mean that the size, method and duration of the clinical trial was enough to show sufficient evidence of weight loss. For example, one “clinically proven” pill only led to a loss of 3 pounds over an eight-week period.

At worst, weight-loss pills and supplements can be very dangerous and even lethal.

The modest benefits that some people may enjoy from weight-loss supplements are nothing compared to the very real damage they can do to your health.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), weight-loss supplements can cause serious harm. The agency has identified hundreds of products advertised as “dietary supplements” that contain:

  • Hidden active ingredients contained in prescription drugs
  • Unsafe ingredients found in drugs that have been removed from the market
  • Compounds that have not been adequately studied in humans

For these reasons, weight-loss supplements have been known to cause serious health problems.

For example, a prescription weight-loss drug called Meridia was withdrawn from the market after it was found that it contained an ingredient called sibutramine that caused heart attacks and strokes.

Even though Meridia was withdrawn, sibutramine was identified in another weight-loss pill, Slimming Beauty Bitter Orange Slimming Capsules, which was marketed as “100 percent herbal” and safe for use by children as young as 2.

Not only are there tainted pills and supplements, but there are also products that avoid FDA regulation altogether because dietary supplement producers do not need FDA approval prior to marketing their products.

Given the uncertainty and high risk surrounding weight-loss supplements, in addition to the fact that they produce only small benefits in some users, Dr. Dirk strongly recommends avoiding them.

The only safe, effective regimen for weight loss  

Losing weight and getting healthy is a long road that requires discipline, determination and patience. If you want to be successful in your weight loss journey, avoid fads and put in the hard work it takes to lose weight and get healthy.

According to Dr. Dirk, the most reliable and safe way to lose weight is to commit to a good diet and regular exercise. That means consuming a low-carb, high-protein diet made up of small meals and committing to at least one hour of aerobic activity per day.

It’s natural to want a quick solution to weight loss. Unfortunately, no safe or effective “quick” solution exists. The surest and healthiest way to lose weight is to commit to a new lifestyle that emphasizes a sensible diet and regular exercise.

Patient Testimonial: Gabrielle Oliveira


patient testimonial

When 16-year-old high school student Gabrielle Oliveira first heard about Dr. Dirk, she had already struggled with the negative effects of obesity for years.

From the age of 12, Gabrielle had high blood sugar and cholesterol levels as a result of being overweight. Her obesity also affected her confidence, causing her to feel depressed and avoid social events.

Following her vertical gastric sleeve procedure in August 2016, Gabrielle is a new person.

She lost 71 pounds, bringing her blood sugar and cholesterol levels under control. She now has the energy for regular exercise — especially hiking, her new favorite activity — as well as the motivation to eat a healthy diet.

Most importantly, Gabrielle enjoys a newfound confidence and security in her body. She has become outgoing and open, and at a trim 139 pounds, she wins compliments from strangers and friends alike.

We talked to Gabrielle about her weight loss journey and her experience with Dr. Dirk.

How was your life before the procedure?

Before the surgery, I struggled a lot with my confidence and health. Eating was a way to comfort myself and relieve stress, but it left me wincing at the sight of my body in mirrors and pictures.

I also struggled with health problems. Every doctor warned me that if I didn’t make changes to my lifestyle, I would become diabetic and have heart problems.

What motivated you to have surgery?

I was on the road to permanently destroying my health at only 16 years old. I also hated my body and was not comfortable going out and meeting people. This put a hold of my social life and led to depression.

After a lot of research and many failed diets, my mom and I came across Dr. Dirk. At my first visit to Dr. Dirk’s office, I learned about the surgery options. Dr. Dirk assured me that the procedure would change my life for the absolute best.

The more I learned about the surgery, the more confident I became that this was what I wanted.

How has your life changed since your procedure?

I feel like a completely different person. As far as my health is concerned, I feel great. I lost 71 pounds, my blood sugar levels are normal and my cholesterol has dropped significantly.

Because of my surgery, I am able to do more now. My confidence soars over my former depression and social anxiety, and I’m able to go out and feel confident and happy about the way I’m living and the way my body looks.

How have you changed your diet and exercise?

Before my surgery, eating healthy felt like a chore. It had no effect of my weight, and I would become discouraged. Now eating healthy feels good. It’s something I want to do.

In terms of exercise, I can take my body to the next level. Before the surgery, I didn’t exercise because I just felt sluggish and had no energy. But now I do a lot of aerobic exercise and weight lifting. I feel like my body can handle it.

What kind of response have you gotten from friends and family?

My family and friends have been very supportive. I even get noticed by strangers who compliment me without even knowing about my journey!

How was your experience with Dr. Dirk?

Dr. Dirk gave me so much information and made me feel like I was more than just a patient.

In my visits to his office before the surgery, he told me what the surgery would do and what my life would be like after the surgery. He visited with me frequently after the surgery to make sure everything was good.

During my follow-up visits throughout the year, he checked on my progress and he still continues to educate me on weight loss and living a healthy lifestyle.

How has your outlook on life changed?

When living healthy and treating your body right becomes a priority, you begin to realize that you can take your life to different places. You can do so much more without worrying.

The biggest eye-opener has been being able to exercise and feel good about it. I don’t dread spending an hour and a half at the gym anymore. That experience has shown me that the surgery has changed my life.

Would you recommend weight loss surgery and Dr. Dirk?

Absolutely. Dr. Dirk makes you feel 100 percent comfortable and safe in his hands. Without this surgery, I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am today. I am living the happiest and healthiest life I could ever live.

Suffering from back or joint pain? Weight loss surgery can help

weight loss surgery back pain

One of the many benefits of weight loss surgery is the alleviation of back pain. Studies show that people who are overweight are at greater risk for back pain, joint pain and muscle strain than those who are not overweight.

If you are considering bariatric surgery and you suffer from serious back pain, here’s what you need to know.

How Obesity Causes Musculoskeletal Pain

Musculoskeletal pain, which includes back pain, occurs in the nearly one-third of Americans who are classified as obese. Simply put, the more you weigh, the more pressure you exert on your spine and joints.

The added pressure of each additional pound can cause cartilage to wear away, leading to bone-on-bone friction. Pressure can also flatten the cushioning disks between vertebral bones, causing back pain.

Additionally, extra weight can place stress on the spine and cause it to warp. Over time, the back may lose proper support and an unnatural curvature in the spine may emerge.

Obesity is also a culprit of lower back pain. For people who carry excess weight in their stomachs, the weight pulls the pelvis forward and puts a harmful strain on the lower back in addition to the rest of the body.

Conditions Related To Obesity

There are a range of conditions that obesity can cause and/or exacerbate.

As mentioned above, too much weight can place a lot of strain on the back, which can result in a herniated disc. A herniated disk occurs when spinal structures are damaged from the stress of having to counterbalance extra weight.

This stress also puts pressure on nerves in the spine. This can lead to pinched nerves, sciatica, tingling or numbness in the buttocks and legs and piriformis syndrome.

Obesity can also be a key contributing factor in osteoarthritis. Patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 25 are more likely to develop osteoarthritis than those with lower BMIs.

How Obesity Complicates Back Surgery

Unfortunately, reducing back pain is not a simple matter of surgery for obese patients. Many joint and spine surgeons are often unwilling to perform surgery on overweight patients for fear that the obesity will only cause the new joint or spine repair to wear down and require additional surgery.

Moreover, obese patients face a greater risk of complications and infections after the surgery.

Weight Loss Reduces Back And Joint Pain

Just as more weight equals more pressure on the back and joints, a reduction in body mass reduces the stress on the joints and spine. In addition to the many other benefits of weight loss, it can also remove the stress that degrades the musculoskeletal structure.

Additionally, weight loss can reduce the risk of critical joint replacement or spine surgery, enabling patients to receive procedures which can further reduce joint or back pain.

Sticking to a healthy weight loss program can help you avoid or reduce the problems that excess weight can cause for your joints and back. For certain patients, weight loss surgery can reduce overall body mass and keep their muscles and bones in healthy shape.

If you’re experiencing back or joint pain related to obesity, give Dr. Dirk a call at (214) 974-8937. He and his staff can help you determine if weight loss surgery is right for you.

The Key To Long-Term Weight Loss? Your Resting Metabolic Rate

long term weight loss

Those on a weight-loss program know that losing weight isn’t always permanent. Lost weight often comes back with a vengeance.

So why is long-term weight loss so challenging? A recent study from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that the culprit is likely your resting metabolic rate.

What is resting metabolic rate, and how can you use it to lose weight and keep it off for good? Here’s what you need to know.

All About Your Resting Metabolic Rate 

Resting metabolic rate, or RMR, denotes the biochemical activity that occurs in your body while you are not physically active. Resting metabolic activity is what keeps your body warm and, critically, what keeps you breathing.

In simpler terms, your RMR is about burning calories. Even while sedentary, your body continues to burn calories. In fact, 80 percent of the calories you burn per day are burned while you’re at rest, thanks to resting metabolic functions.

Weight loss is about consuming fewer calories than your body expends. Knowing your RMR is key to knowing how many calories your body burns on an average day and how many calories you should consume to lose weight.

Weight Loss Triggers A Drop In Your RMR

The NIH study tracked 14 contestants from the television show “The Biggest Loser” after the show ended. The contestants lost an average of 125 pounds during the show.

Six years after the show, however, the study found that 13 of the 14 contestants had regained much of their lost weight, despite diet and exercise.

The NIH study found that the contestants’ drastic weight loss produced a corresponding drop in their resting metabolic rates. Their bodies burned fewer calories while at rest than they did before their weight loss.

Put simply, weight loss results in a lower RMR. The “Biggest Loser” contestants experienced a 30 percent drop in their RMRs. That means their bodies were burning 30 percent fewer calories while at rest than before the weight loss.

Making up for such a large drop in RMR would require almost two hours per day of brisk walking, seven days per week.

Maintain Your RMR By Strengthening Your Soleus Muscles

Your soleus muscle, located in your calves, is often referred to as your body’s second heart. That’s because your soleus muscle is responsible for pumping blood from your lower body back up to your heart. The stronger the pump, the more blood gets delivered back to the heart, which results in a higher RMR.

With a stronger soleus muscle, you can boost your resting metabolic rate, helping you keep your weight off. Along with critical health steps, such as maintaining a good diet and a disciplined exercise regimen, training your soleus muscles is essential.

Because of our sedentary lifestyles, our calf muscles tend to weaken. The soleus muscles require training of long duration and low intensity. Practicing tai chi is an excellent way to achieve stronger soleus muscles. There are also devices that you can use to deliver mechanical vibrations to your soleus muscles while seated, causing them to undergo reflex contractions.

Staying healthy and in shape is a lifelong journey. While keeping lost weight off for good can be difficult, maintaining a good RMR is an important step.

Patient Testimonial: Vicki Steidley

gastric sleeve surgery

When full-time RN Vicki Steidley began exploring weight loss surgery options to treat her constant back pain, she was told that back surgery would be impossible due to her obesity. But she was determined to stop her pain, and her neurosurgeon told her that losing weight would allow her to have back surgery or even reduce her need for surgery altogether.

Now, after a receiving a gastric sleeve at the tender age of 64 and losing 78 pounds, Vicki is more energetic, happier and healthier than ever. We spoke to Vicki about her weight loss journey and her experience with Dr. Dirk.

What was life like for you before the procedure? Did you have any health issues and were they resolved by the surgery?

I had no quality of life prior to my gastric sleeve surgery and was unable to do the things I enjoyed, like going to flea markets, digging in the dirt and fishing. I became short of breath easily and had back pain 24/7.

What motivated you to get weight loss surgery?

My neurosurgeon suggested weight loss surgery and said that I may not need back surgery if I lost weight. I have battled my weight all my life and never won the battle. As a nurse, I knew I was a high risk for heart attack and/or stroke. Now, I can do all the things I enjoy without back pain. I have never had this much energy or felt this good.

How did Dr. Dirk help you throughout the process?

Dr. Dirk and his staff were so helpful and supportive. He was available to me 24 hours a day. He thoroughly explained everything and really cared about me. I understood that the diet and exercise program was a lifelong commitment, but knew if I wanted any kind of life, this is what I needed to do.

How has your life changed since? 

Everything I had tried in the past just didn’t work. I have the most wonderful life now, and my co-workers are always talking about how good I look. I always have a bounce in my step and a smile on my face.

How have you changed your diet and exercise?

I do stick to the diet, which hasn’t been difficult as I no longer feel hungry. I no longer crave the bad foods I ate in the past, and I always make sure to take in the appropriate amount of protein daily. I go to the gym 5 days a week and I enjoy the way I feel after my workout; challenge myself each time I go. I know the diet and exercise are what make me feel so wonderful and full of energy.

Do you have new outlook on life? 

I have a whole new outlook on life. I wake up every day feeling good and full of energy. My weight loss immediately after surgery was slow, but once the weight started dropping and I started making progress in the gym, I knew I had made the right decision. 

What has been the response from friends and family?

I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a while yesterday, and he didn’t even recognize me at first. I am constantly telling people how I lost the weight and I recommend Dr. Dirk highly. One of my co-workers went to him for surgery and is also losing weight. My son is also planning on having the surgery after hearing all I have said about Dr. Dirk and his support.

What is your favorite thing to do now that you have lost weight?

My favorite thing to do now is to challenge myself to do more. I am planning on running a 5K next spring. I can’t say enough that it is never too late to make changes that will improve your outlook on life.

Find more inspiring success stories from Dr. Dirk’s patients here.