April 2016


April 2016 Newsletter

Greetings, all! Many times when I begin the monthly newsletter, I tend to get desperate for material and peruse the weird national holidays that take place during that month. Among my favorites for April are National Ex Spouse Day, No Housework Day, Hairstyle Appreciation Day, Hug an Australian Day, National Tell A Lie Day, Russian Cosmonaut Day, and my personal favorite, the alarmingly morose Plan Your Epitaph Day. However, there is one of these “holidays” (to use the term loosely) that actually sticks out and is relevant from a weight loss vantage point, and this is National Stress Awareness Day on April 16th. I imagine it is no coincidence that this comes the day after tax season concludes.

Life stress is a topic that I discuss with most every patient who comes through our door. Most of you know at this point that a high-stress lifestyle is not conducive to maintaining a healthy weight or a healthy mind. However, it is without a doubt very difficult to combat it. I know this because it is very rare that I see people take actual concrete measures to reduce the amount of stress in their lives.

I’ve attached an article from Psychology Today that discusses how stress affects our health. The only thing I would like to note is that the article does not mention stressor reduction (the stressor being the cause), only stress management (the stress being the effect). Even though some life stressors are not a choice on the individual’s behalf, there are some that we have the ability to counter-influence. In addition to looking at how to manage the stress in your own life, I would challenge you to also look at the cause(s) and really evaluate if there is anything (or anyone) you can distance yourself from or a situation that you can alter in the name of your own mental health. This is always easier said than done, but paying the price of your health to avoid interrupting the flow of things can seem like a questionable sacrifice when you look back.



Catherine Brach, Weight Loss LMHC

We are fully committed to providing you with all of the necessary tools to support you in achieving your weight loss goals. If you have further questions or concerns between follow-up visits please feel free to contact us.

Greater Orlando Medical Weight Loss
424 Lake Howell Road, Maitland, FL 32751
7319 Stonerock Circle, Suite 100, Orlando, FL

[email protected]


March 2016

To Cheat or not to Cheat?

This month I have decided to tackle the age-old dilemma of the cheat meal. Actually, it’s not really age-old because people didn’t really start going on diets until we as a society basically lost touch with most of our internal cues regarding hunger and fullness.

Anywho, every health and wellness specialist seems to have an opinion when it comes to whether or not one who is adhering to a restrictive diet should incorporate a cheat meal/sanity meal/pleasurefest. Truth is, it really depends on the individual. It is odd to think of cheating in general as a good thing: Cheating on a test does not improve one’s academic capabilities, cheating on your spouse is a surefire way to mess up your relationship (if it wasn’t already), and so why would cheating on your meal plan improve your weight loss outcome? Well, there are numerous reasons, some of them psychological and others metabolic. In this article, it is my goal to help you figure out if putting a cheat meal on the radar is for you or not.

Let’s first talk tackle the physiological benefits, as they are far more concrete and apply to almost all humans. As many of you know, eating too low calorie or not varying the foods that you are taking in can slow a person’s metabolism. Similar to our muscles, our digestive system needs a variety a foods and calorie levels in order to achieve maximum caloric burn. A cheat meal can very much break up the monotony of eating a lower calorie diet of foods that are very similar to one another. The increase in metabolic rate after a cheat meal can last up to about 3 days. This can allow the person who has reached a plateau to get their engine revving again. Often, body weight a couple of days after a cheat meal is lower than it was before. And you got to eat some of your favorites!

Now for the more abstract psychological benefits of the controversial cheat meal. First, it eliminates absolutes. “I am NEVER eating fries again.” “I will stay under 1,200 calories every day.” “I can never have happy hour with the girls.” “I never speak in absolutes.” [Ha, ha] Thinking in extremes is very likely to put you in the danger zone, because when it comes to food habits and lifestyle, it is very unlikely that ‘never’ and ‘always’ will pan out the way you think. We tend to make emotional decisions, especially when we are very angry with ourselves for gaining weight in the first place. The cheat meal needs to be absent of emotional decision-making. This means making the decision to have something that you enjoy, while recognizing that it can ultimately be an investment that will help keep you on track. If you are someone who is not yet ready to separate yourself emotionally from some of your favorite foods, this is likely a good indicator that a cheat meal is not for you at this juncture in your program.

If done properly, a well-sanctioned cheat meal can really help to break up the monotony of dieting and keep you on track for much longer. It also helps prepare you for the inevitable grey area, which is a lifelong balancing act that will be well worth the effort once maintenance comes. I have heard many people describe the almost oppressive nature of being on a restrictive diet, as if they are voluntarily being punished for who they are. They feel it is unfair because they have to diet and others do not. A cheat meal can be vital in fostering a sense of ‘normalcy’ and participating in one’s own life. In the words of the wonderful Oscar Wilde, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”

Guidelines for a cheat meal done right

Create clear sanctions. Identify what food(s) you will have, where you will go, and what quantity. Be as specific as possible and know that, when it is over, it’s over. Vague planning can lead to more room for error or out of control eating brought about by good intentions gone bad.

Make sure it is a meal, not a day. You generally want to stay under about 1,000 calories for a cheat meal. This is not an all day binge I am talking about. If your favorite food is nachos, get a nacho appetizer as your meal. If it is pizza, have 2 or 3 slices of your favorite pizza. If it is a combination of foods, understand that it is generally a plate or a meal’s worth of these items. And remember to mentally close the door when all is said and done.

Skip your weigh-in the next morning. I know you want to get on that scale the next day. Don’t do it. This is unlikely to come as a surprise, but large meals and immediate weight loss don’t generally go together. Wait until 2 days later to step on again if you are someone who tends to weigh every morning.

Please find a way to enjoy it! If you see yourself becoming anxious to the point where it isn’t fun when it comes to having a cheat meal, you are probably not ready to do so. And this is perfectly okay. The difference between a cheat meal and a binge is that a person has a cheat meal on their own terms. They are the one in control. A binge episode implies the compulsion to eat foods that the person knows they should not have. In this scenario, it is the food that is in control. If you can look forward to it without obsessing, and look back on it without longing, a cheat meal can be a wonderful way to stay on track toward your ultimate goal.


Catherine Brach, LMHC
Senior Counselor

March 2016

dr-cruzFrom the Desk of Dr. Cruz:
Proudly Serving Central Florida
for over 15 years.

Check out this month’s article from Buzzfeed that features low-carb recipes for Spring!

27 Low-Carb Dinners That Are Great For Spring


Dr. Cruz

January 2016

This month I decided to pull an article from another source. It was refreshing to come across a piece that wasn’t offering up the usual cliche pop psychology advice regarding New Year’s Resolutions.

It addresses the idea of something called “cultural procrastination,” or delaying progress because it is culturally encouraged or acceptable to do so. Sound familiar?


Cultural Procrastination: The Psychology of New Year’s Resolutions

Also, please scroll down to the bottom of this email to see the awesome specials we are running through January. New patients can get their first month of visits for the price of their initial visit! We are also doing very low cost restarts for those of you who have had some difficulty maintaining. Take advantage, people!


Catherine Brach, LMHC
Senior Counselor

January 2016

dr-cruzFrom the Desk of Dr. Cruz:
Proudly Serving Central Florida
for over 15 years.

Check out this healthy soup recipe! Soup can be a very nutritious food and is often overlooked on a weight loss program.


Dr. Cruz

Chicken & Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto

Adapted from EatingWell
Makes: 5 servings, about 1 1/2 cups each


  • 2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup carrot or diced red bell pepper
  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 8 ounces), cut into quarters
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 6 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrot (or bell pepper) and chicken; cook, turning the chicken and stirring frequently, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in broth and marjoram; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  2. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces to a clean cutting board to cool. Add spinach and beans to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
  3. Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, Parmesan and basil in a food processor (a mini processor works well). Process until a coarse paste forms, adding a little water and scraping down the sides as necessary.
  4. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces. Stir the chicken and pesto into the pot. Season with pepper. Heat until hot. Garnish with croutons, if desired.


Per serving: 204 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat, 4 g mono); 29 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrates; 18 g protein; 6 g fiber; 691 mg sodium; 529 mg potassium.

December 2015


“Playing with Portions”

Greetings all! The holiday season is officially upon us. Whether you are one of those people who looks forward to this all year or someone who can’t wait for normal life to resume, there are certain inevitabilities that few of us can avoid. One in particular is that December is a time of year when perceived control over what foods are available is the lowest. Family feasts, holiday parties, and work functions prevail. Patrons bring in sugary treats to show their gratitude (is there no other way??), and cookies and candy basically manifest out of thin air.

Therefore, it is likely that certain exceptions will be made for many of you who are following a ketogenic program. Of course, in an ideal world, you would maintain a tight dietary regimen and sail right on through. I can assure you, however, that this population is a vast minority. So what it’s going to be about in December is something rather different: how to go off of your plan properly without derailing everything. Believe me, it can be done.

Essentially, as a general rule during the holidays, I propose a shift from focusing mostly on the content of what you are eating to focusing more on the quantity of what you are eating. Here are a few sneaky ideas to help control portions through the holiday party season:

  1. The “one plate” rule. Load up one time and call it a meal. If you refill on anything, make it vegetables. If there are hors d’oeuvres or dessert, follow the same general rule of one small plate of appetizers or one small piece of dessert. This helps to define the parameters of what you are eating, and may help to slow down the pace at which you eat, knowing that you won’t be going back for seconds.
  2. Be an opportunist. Make the quieter days count. If you have an opportunity to make healthy choices or plan your meals out, do so! The holidays are not an excuse to throw caution to the wind the entire time. When it’s within your control, take advantage and eat something that will nourish you! This is more commonly known as damage control.
  3. Spoil your appetite. I know this is not new diet advice for many of you. However, it is a classic for a reason! Eating a small snack that is high in protein an hour before a large meal has been show to be a predictor of decreased overall intake throughout the day. Going to a food-intensive event with a grumbling stomach, or banking calories, is never a great idea for someone on a weight loss plan.
  4. Wear something snug! I swear this works. Many of you are going down in sizes these days. Perhaps you are on the precipice of going from a size 14 to a size 12. If you are going to a party or a dinner, wear a 12! With less wiggle room, people tend to naturally eat less due to overestimating how full they really are. Be reasonable, of course- I don’t want you to commit a fashion faux-pas, be horribly uncomfortable, or be the guy in the straightjacket. It’s just another way to trick your body into being satisfied with less.
  5. Don’t deprive yourself. This may sound confusing to you after reading the first four tips. However, what I am referring to is finding a balance between participating in all the seasonal foods and retaining a sense of control. How many times have you gone to a party and said, “I’m not going to have anything I shouldn’t”? Fast forward a couple of cocktails later and you are running the food table like a boss (this is a bad thing). Give yourself permission to have the foods that you really want, but within reason. This is why it is so important to have personal sanctions to keep yourself in check. And when the party is over, it’s over. Back on track the next day!

Maintain over the Holidays

One last thing I want to mention is with regard to expectations. Some of the best advice I can give you is, “Do not expect to lose over the holidays.” This isn’t saying that you cannot lose weight between now and January. However, it seems that trying to do so can be mentally defeating at times, and set the person up to fall short. Most people tend to gain a few pounds during this time, including your former self on certain years. So we really need to think of maintaining over the holiday season like losing. It is a huge victory! I hope you are all able make choices that you feel confident about, and above all, have a beautiful holiday season!


Catherine Brach, LMHC
Senior Counselor

November 2015

dr-cruzFrom the Desk of Dr. Cruz
Proudly Serving Central Florida
for over 15 years

In lieu of providing a single receipe, here is a link to 100 medically approved low-carb holiday recipes. These include appetizers, main dishes, and desserts. Please take a look and happy holidays to all!

100 Low-Carb Holiday Recipes


Dr. Cruz