Melinda Gale

Fitness & Lifestyle

I Actually Visited My Doctor Before Starting A Diet (And Why You Should Too)

With almost any weight loss or exercise program, there is generally a disclaimer to check with your doctor before beginning — but I honestly don’t know anyone who ever has. On my never-ending journey to be the healthiest person around, I decided to actually check in with my doctor about my current weight loss (and lack thereof) situation. 

About five years ago, I experienced a tremendous weight loss — nearly 40 lbs in just 3 short months. I did everything you’re supposed to do to lose weight the healthiest way possible. I ate very healthy meals (5-6 small meals a day), cut my alcohol consumption, traded sugar-loaded snacks for more healthy options, and did workouts that worked for my body (HIIT workouts with a side of yoga). However, now that I am in my early 30’s, it’s like my metabolism is playing some cruel joke on me. With an increased workload and general life stressors getting me down, I found it almost impossible to stick to a meal plan or treat my body the way it needed. That’s when I turned to my amazing care team at North Hills Internal and Integrative Medicine

Knowing that he had also experienced the ups and downs of weight loss, I reached out to NHIIM’s NP and resident nutrition expert, Henry Matthew Van Pala with my concerns. He immediately scheduled a weight loss assessment for me the next week. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t absolutely terrified to come in. With the exception of a few months when I was at an ideal body fat percentage, I have always been considered “overweight” on the BMI spectrum. I just knew that Henry Matthew would tell me that he was concerned and that I would have to make massive changes in my lifestyle. I generally eat pretty healthily and I workout 5-6 times a week, it’s just that my eating isn’t consistent. I either skip meals due to my busy schedule or eat approx 37 pizzas. All or nothing!! However, my fears couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Apparently, this is what a pound of fat looks like.. yum!

Apparently, this is what a pound of fat looks like.. yum!

After checking my vitals and doing a body analysis, Henry Matthew and I sat down and talked about where I was at on my journey and where I wanted to be. I was open and honest with him about my fears, telling him that the “goal weight” that physicians generally give me is too low for my body type. I’ve been there and know that it’s not a healthy place for me to be. He was amazing and understood where I was coming from. We then discussed what he envisioned my diet as being. Following the Cornerstone Wellness weight loss plan (which he himself follows and has seen great results), we decided that my calorie range should fall somewhere between 1300-1400 a day. I would trade in my normal protein powder for Cornerstone Wellness’s Shake Powder (which leans more on the healthy side with added vitamins/nutrients) and make sure to follow a very simple meal plan that is less about counting calories and more about eating the right foods and portions. For me (and many others), having an exact goal weight can be triggering and lead to distorted behaviors. Because of this, we decided I would focus on a goal body fat percentage instead. When changing up your wellness routine, it can be easy to hop on the scale every day and beat yourself up over the lack of progress so I love that I can now have a body fat percentage to work towards. I also found out that even in my attempts to meal prep healthy meals that I was actually eating way too many carbs and not enough protein. I know, it's the actual worst thing you can ever hear someone say, "you're eating too many carbs!"

I left my appointment with a large container for Cornerstone Shake Powder, CornerStone’s MetAssist (a supplement to curb sweet cravings), a full meal plan, and an optimistic outlook on my new weight loss journey. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to weight loss, I now realize how important it is to speak openly and honestly with your doctor about your goals. Additionally, let them know what kinds of things you like and dislike, be it foods or workouts. They will be able to help you tailor something that works for your interestest and wellness needs.


After a week on my new meal plan, I find myself with little desire to overeat. I even took my Cornerstone Wellness shakes to the beach with me! I love knowing that my care team is just a call away any time I have concerns (as is my personal trainer at O2 Fitness). Weight loss IS a journey and it’s important to surround yourself with people who will support you and lift you up when things get hard. Luckily for me, I have a team of trained professionals who can keep me in check to help me be happy and healthy, as well as a few friends who can (lovingly) hold me accountable. 

Again, weight loss isn't a one-size-fits-all approach. What works for me may not work for you. What worked for me in the past may not work for me now. Because of this, it's important to actually heed the "ask your doctor before.." advice! I swear, it's not as terrifying as you might think.