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Walking the walk: Dr. Jeff Levine on 'The Biggest Loser' and inspiring patients to lose weight

Article

Dr. Jeff Levine starred on 'The Biggest Loser' and lost 183 pounds, and now uses that inspiration to help his patients lose weight.

, a physician in New Jersey, personally understands how hard it is for physicians and patients to navigate the dynamics of encouraging weight loss and healthy living

Levine used to be obese, but the opportunity to participate in the second season of the reality television show The Biggest Loser in 2005 helped turn his life around. He lost 103 pounds in 12 weeks during to the show’s intense fitness regimen. He lost 30 before appearing on the show and lost another 50 after returning home, for a total of 183.

He knows that level of weight loss so quickly is not realistic for a typical person, but he uses his experiences to encourage patients to set quality-of-life goals. He recently ran in the Susan G. Komen 5k Race for the Cure. There was a time he couldn’t manage a flight of stairs. 

“I am blessed to have had the rare opportunity to get my life and my health back,” says Levine. “There are so many things I can do now that I couldn’t do before. Patients know I walked the walk. I lived it, and I can empathize with how difficult it is. It gives me a certain credibility with them.”

Levine uses this unique perspective to offer his patients practical advice, such as tips on packing a lunch so you know you have healthy food available and won’t be tempted to eat out.

Despite his successes, Levine is the first to admit he is still working toward his ideal body weight. And that is an important lesson he imparts to his patients: That it’s about living a healthier life, little by little.

“Life is not a reality show and you shouldn’t beat yourself up over every failure,” he says. “It’s not about winning or losing, it’s about doing better. Set realistic goals and expectations. Whatever we do is going to help you for the rest of your life.”

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Jennifer N. Lee, MD, FAAFP
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
© National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health