Carilion Clinic’s Bert Herald, R.D.-N., became a registered dietitian after losing 115 pounds through lifestyle changes that included breaking decades-long diet and exercise habits and developing new ones.
He's a strong advocate of accountability: getting support from others as you work to reach your goals. This can take the form of:
- Friends and family—they don't have to share your goals to support them
- Competitors—"healthy" competition is a great motivator
- Support groups—online support can be formal or informal, and the safest way to prevent the spread of coronavirus
- Licensed professionals
Bert sees value in weight-loss apps but advocates for professional support for people who are trying to make significant changes.
"Apps are an important tool to enable the patient to achieve some of their goals," he said, "but I provide the counseling and expertise to help develop them. I also investigate underlying causes for weight gain, which usually requires many lifestyle changes."
That counseling is a conversation that both he and the patient contribute to.
"I can act as a filter to a lot of the information that people see on the internet or hear about from friends, much of which can be confusing or even incorrect," he said. "It is also important for patients to have follow-ups as a motivational tool, knowing that they have a goal in front of them and wanting to show progress at our next meeting. We can then discuss what worked and what didn’t and develop new goals accordingly, working with the patient as a partner to their success."
According to Clinical Nutrition director Susan Carter, R.D.N., someone like Bert is the right person to help people stay accountable to the goals they set for themselves.
“I see him helping patients make a plan so they can work on those goals and not make it seem so overwhelming,” she said. “Because he has lived that, he knows exactly how to do it.”
As a health care professional, he has access to a wealth of evidence-based information that helps him select appropriate meal plans that are customized to each individual's medical situation and personal preferences, providing nutrition for a healthy weight loss.
“If I’ve done it, you can do it,” he says.
For more inspiration, watch Bert's story and then call a friend, download an app and get started on your goals.