I am a doctor
Double board certified in obesity medicine as well as internal medicine, I have been practicing for over 20 years now. The George Washington University Medical Center was home — I went through medical school and residency training there; I was honored to be asked to serve as Chief Medical Resident and delighted to be inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society there before moving to California in 2003 to join the medical faculty at the University of California San Diego. I was an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine at UCSD for four years, caring for patients and teaching medical students and residents. In 2007 I had the opportunity of a lifetime: I moved to Los Angeles to work with Dr. Rob Huizenga and serve as a medical consultant for NBC’s hit reality TV show, “The Biggest Loser.” My time in Los Angeles was spent watching over the contestants during their weight loss journey, making appearances on the show, writing a blog about the behind-the-scenes medical aspects of the show for NBC.com called “Dr. Jen’s Journal,” and running a private weight loss group in Beverly Hills with Dr. Huizenga. After three seasons of filming the show, Dr. H asked me to buy into his practice and stay on permanently, so I was forced to choose between staying in Hollywood long-term and returning home, and there’s just no place like home. I decided to return to academia and relocated back to the DC area in 2008, where I am currently Assistant Professor of Medicine at two medical schools: the George Washington University, and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. I’m on staff at the Washington DC VA Medical Center, caring for our nation’s heroes and running our medical weight management clinic and bariatric surgery program. I’m passionate about helping others learn to manage their weight as successfully as I have. Weight management is sometimes a meandering road, but staying the course (with occasional course corrections!) will get you there eventually.
I am an obesity survivor
I understand weight-related issues better than anyone, having struggled with my own obesity since childhood; my weight topped at about 300 pounds in college. I lost over 120 pounds during medical school and kept it off for 3 or 4 years, but the weight gradually crept back on through the stress of residency, a cross-country move, and a less-than-successful first marriage as I allowed my iron will to relax just a bit. What began as gaining “just 5 or 10 pounds” kept recurring, and gradually 5 or 10 pounds turned into the whole 120: by 2005 I was back to my original 270 pounds. Then in 2006, I applied to be one of the 50 contestants on Season 3 of “The Biggest Loser.” I was chosen to represent the state of Virginia, and managed to re-lose 108 pounds in just 8 months as an at-home contestant. Yes, those of us who had to lose weight on our own at home seemed to do as well as those who stayed on the ranch and worked tirelessly with the trainers! Since the show’s finale in December 2006, I have successfully maintained my weight loss — with a blip of moderate regain during pregnancy and nursing! — and, believe it or not, I am currently 25 pounds LIGHTER than I was when I appeared on the finale of my season of the Biggest Loser 13 years ago!
I am an investigator
As a physician-scientist, searching out scientific and medical studies to use as evidence to back up my medical decision-making is critical. We are held to this standard in practice and I have become adept at evaluating potential treatments systematically and critically, using the medical literature to lend scientific proof to my therapeutic decisions. I went back to school while working full time and got a Master’s degree in Clinical and Translational Research to help me hone my skills in medical research, and had the opportunity of a lifetime to work with Dr. Kevin Hall at the National Institutes of Health investigating the long-term changes in weight and metabolism of a few of my Biggest Loser compatriots, the season 8 contestants. Our research was widely publicized and I have since been interviewed by various media such as Psychology Today, NPR and the New York Times… with a few more articles here and here.
I’m hoping this blog will serve to help me distill the current scientific literature and come up with new ideas and questions to pursue, and more importantly, disseminate whatever insights I gain to the general public. I want to help you outsmart your stomach just like I have! And maybe tell a few stories and opinions from my life and experiences while I’m at it. Care to join me?