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Why awareness is so important?

February is American Heart Month. This month not only holds the holiday built to celebrate love (Valentine’s Day), it is also an excellent time to educate yourself on heart health.

Check in on your health overall

Tracking things like your body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar levels and even your weight are essential factors in keeping a healthy heart in general.

Keep up a steady relationship with your doctor. Visiting your primary care physician and openly discussing ways to reduce the issues stated above is very important if you want to keep those numbers steady. Some key components that your doctor will inform you to look out for are of the following:


  • Limit your salt intake
  • Cut down on sugary drinks/processed foods
  • Alcohol consumption should be reduced to one drink a day (for females) and two (for males)
  • Neglect smoking completely. If you struggle with this habit, talk with your primary care physician who can help you get on the right plan to quit!

Mental health should be a top priority as well.

Emotional, psychological, and social well-being can affect how our heart functions. Mental health involves how we think, feel, act, and make choices. Some mental health concerns that can lead to heart dysfunction include the following:

  • Anxiety leading to abnormal heartbeat
  • Depression
  • Chronic stress
  • Neglecting one’s diet leading to metabolic disease
  • Refraining from exercise (bad behavioral patterns in general)

Incorporate exercise in your daily routine

Weight is something that affects your mood and overall health (mental and physical). Excess weight can also lead to greater issues such as stroke, heart attacks, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

A simple solution is to step outside and take a walk. It will keep your heart rate up and increase oxygen to the heart. Daily exercise will contribute to a healthy heart and better you!




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Thyroid Awareness Month

Thyroid Awareness Month

What and where is the thyroid?

The thyroid gland itself is a small organ located in the front of the neck. It is shaped sort of like a butterfly, and wrapped around the front part of your trachea. It has two lobes – a right and a left – which each expand around the sides of your neck like butterfly wings. The small connecting portion in between is called the isthmus. The function of the thyroid is complex, but in the most simple terms it releases hormones that regulate the body’s overall level of metabolism.

How can the thyroid affect weight?

Your thyroid secretes hormones that regulate your metabolic rate. When the thyroid makes too much thyroid hormone, your body uses energy too quickly. This is called hyperthyroidism. Symptoms can include things that you might expect if your body is “revved up,” such as tremors, palpitations, weight loss, heat intolerance, etc.

Conversely, when the thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone – a condition called hypothyroidism – then you see opposite effects. People with hypothyroidism will have a lower metabolic rate, and thus suffer from fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, and a number of other problems. In this way, hypothyroidism can be associated with obesity.

Common symptoms of thyroid disease


  • · Nervousness, anxiety, irritability
    · Weight loss
    · Insomnia
    · Muscle weaknesses
    · Diarrhea
    · Mood swings
    · Sensitivity to heat
    · Vision impairment or irritation of eyes
    · Enlarged thyroid gland/goiter
    · Menstrual cycle irregularity


  • · Fatigue
  • · Constipation
  • · Weight gain
  • · Depression
  • · Muscle cramps and weakness
  • · Cold Insensitivity

The most common diseases linked to an imbalanced thyroid are:

  • · Hashimoto’s disease (associated with hypothyroidism).
  • · Graves’ disease (associated with hyperthyroidism)
  • · Goiter
  • · Thyroid nodules

Treatment options


There are multiple causes of both hyper- and hypothyroidism, and thus there are multiple treatment options available. The most common treatment for hypothyroidism is hormone replacement with a daily dose of levothyroxine, which is a manufactured thyroid hormone that comes in a pill form. Hormone levels need to be monitored closely by your physician, and the dose may need to be adjusted from time to time. Treatment of hyperthyroidism is more complex, and may vary from medications to surgical removal of the thyroid gland.

Thyroid nodules are very common, especially in women and the elderly. However, occasionally thyroid nodules can either secrete too much hormone and cause hyperthyroidism, or they can turn into thyroid cancer. Thus, any time a thyroid nodule is identified, it should be evaluated. This usually involves checking thyroid levels and getting an ultrasound of the thyroid gland. Based on the size, appearance, and function of the nodule(s), sometimes you may need additional imaging tests or even a needle biopsy. When it is felt that the nodules need to be removed, then it is best performed by a surgeon experienced in endocrine surgery.

Questions to consider for your Physician

If you are concerned about your thyroid, its function can easily be determined with some simple laboratory tests through your primary care physician. If the thyroid is dysfunctional, then you should seek the guidance of an endocrinologist – a physician that specializes in managing hormonal disorders. If it is felt that you might require surgery for a thyroid disorder, then you should seek out a surgeon who specializes in endocrine surgery, such as Dr. St. Julien.




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Meet Kelly Range

Meet Kelly Range

Here at MIIS Weight Loss Institute we pride ourselves on quality care that is provided by the best specialists in a broad range of fields. That’s why we are thrilled to introduce you to Kelly Range, a critical team member of our Weight Loss Institute.

Technically, Kelly is our Nurse Practitioner, but her role with MIIS Weight Loss Institute goes far beyond that. Kelly pairs her medical background with her compassionate heart to act as a coach and warm hearts for our patients. Kelly provides education and support to both bariatric patients and their families who are by their side throughout their journey, and her favorite part of nursing is helping patients reach their goals and celebrating together.

Kelly was born and raised right here in St. Petersburg, Florida. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Florida State University and completed her Master of Science as a Nurse Practitioner from the University of South Florida. Kelly worked with Dr. Huguet in the ICU and the surgical recovery unit for several years prior to becoming a nurse practitioner.

Kelly strongly believes that a holistic multidisciplinary approach to weight loss that with individualized care for each patient is the key to success. She knows that treatment doesn’t stop in the operating room, and that sometimes the thing you need the most is a coach to help motivate and inspire you. She is the friendly face that will greet you and answer any and all questions before your bariatric surgery, and also sees patients going through our Medical Weight Loss Program. 

What is our Medical Weight Loss Program? 

At MIIS Weight Loss Institute, we know that there are many reasons that one of our patients may need to lose weight. Whether you are trying to drop a few sizes before a wedding or family reunion, you want to eliminate dangerous comorbidities, or you are gearing up for bariatric surgery with us, we are ready and able to assist you throughout your weight loss journey.   We educate and assist patients with lifestyle modifications that support long term weight loss. The advantage of our medical weight loss program is that it is developed by leading industry professionals in health and medicine, so you will be able to lose the weight and actually keep it off. 

Kelly is a key component of our Medical Weight Loss Program. As a Nurse Practitioner, she is able to create an individualized and personal plan for each patient, that is based on their medical conditions, body type and ability. Patients in our program can even walk through our in-house retail store that’s coming soon, with Kelly by their side to help them select their favorite flavors of meal bars, shakes and other nutritious foods to add to their meal plan and help them stay on track. 

There are many reasons why MIIS Weight Loss Institute is a premier center for weight loss – Our talented team and comprehensive approach truly separate us from competitors in the field. Contemplating starting your weight loss journey but not ready to do it on your own? We have plenty of support waiting to begin alongside you. Give us a call today at (727) 821-8101. 

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Hurricane Preparedness for Bariatric Patients

Hurricane Preparedness for Bariatric Patients

Floridians are veterans at prepping for a hurricane, but if this is your first time prepping for the storm season after your bariatric surgery you’ll probably prep differently than in previous years.  Depending on where you are in your post-op healing, you will need to stock your pantry and prepare meals according to whether your diet consists of mostly pureed, soft solids, or solid foods.   

Hydration will still be essential so devise a way to keep your hydration a priority.  Oftentimes as people shelter or during clean-up it is easy to forget to stay hydrated or replenish after exertion.  Hydration should be consumed via a liquid rather than relied upon through food, however, incorporating liquid in your meal can be part of your plan.  If you suffer from GERD, you may want to keep your liquid consumption separate from your meals.  Tips for GERD

Something to keep in mind is that prepping many pureed or blended foods will need to be done without power.  Having blender bottles, whisks, and manual mixers can make your life easier.  We also recommend monitoring how much sugar and sugar substitutes are being consumed; excess of either can cause a hormone response or gastric upset.

We always recommend that buying items that you will actually consume.  While items like Spam are pantry stable, if you are unlikely to eat it, don’t waste money buying it.  If once the hurricane season is over, you’ll most likely want to consume the items before they expire.

Food & Water Items:

Bottled Water – you’ll want bottled water to drink, cook, and clean with.  We recommend having at least two gallons of water per person in your house for at least five days. 

Low-carb Fluids – Having bottles of unsweet tea and Trop50 can help inspire you to stay hydrated.  They are also easy to carry and mix with. Smaller bottles help keep products sealed until they are consumed and not having excess that need refrigeration keeps precious cooler space free for other items.

Shelf-stable Milks, Broths and Stocks – These items can provide much needed vitamins and minerals, salt and hydration.  Often leftover fluid will need to be refrigerated or stored in a cooler so plan accordingly with size appropriate packages for your situation.  Supplies to make nut milks at home – Homemade nut milk can last 4-5 days.  Having a nut milk bag and bulk nuts in your pantry is an easy way to add vitamins to your smoothies.  DIY Almond Milk

Protein Powders – Having protein powders for smoothies and recipes is important.  Having a variety of flavors can add interest to your days while unflavored powders provide the most versatility.

Pre-Made Protein Shakes – When the power is out or you feel you need a quick meal, pre-packaged protein shakes can be shelf-stable solutions.  They are also easy to transport in cars and to shelters.

Vitamins and Medication – Stock up on your vitamins and medicine to ensure you have enough to get through a week or two while supply chains are normalized

Whole Grain Crackers

Laughing Cow Cheese  – These are portion-controlled and shelf stable.  Unopened wax units do not require refrigeration.

Shelf-stable Hummus and Salsas – Hummus and salsas can add great protein, vitamins and/or fiber to your diet.  You can eat them on their own, with crackers, use the salsa as a marinade or paired with a broth for an instant spicy veggie soup, and so on.

Canned Meats and Jerkies – Canned salmon, tuna, chicken and other meats can be easily consumed when chopped finely.  Jerkies can also be finely chopped even blended and stored as a fine crumble.

Canned Fruits and Vegetables – Low carb fruits and veggies and their liquid can be used in recipes in a variety of ways.  Low carb options are the best option.  Avoid options that contain corn syrup and added sugars.

Dried and Canned Beans – Beans can be a healthy source of protein and protein absorption is important after bariatric surgery.  Beans can be pureed, used in soups, or eaten whole (depending on your post-op stage).  For those not used to preparing dried beans, print out recipes that tell you how to prepare beans safely.  (Printed instructions will be important if power or internet services are unavailable.)

Oatmeal – Oatmeal packages can be purchased or portioned from larger containers.  Oatmeal can add fiber to smoothies, as a meal or mixed with other ingredients.  Avoid oatmeal packets that are filled with sugary ingredients.  Oatmeal can also help hold hydration in your system. 

Protein Bars – Store-bought protein bars are often chock full of sugar and inflammatory ingredients.  Homemade versions can often be created with ingredient control and stored.  Having the items on hand to quickly whip up a batch when the storm alerts begin can ensure your bars are readily available.

Nut Butters – Peanut butter and other nut butters is very versatile as a stand alone or when mixed with other ingredients. Peanut butter packets can be very convenient while in a shelter or traveling. 

Pre-made Sugar-free Jello and Pudding – Having jello and pudding can be a comfort and they add some stabilizing hydration to your system.

Mayonnaise, full-fat dressings, mustards, and other condiments – Condiments can come in single servings and add flavor and fats to your meals.  By stocking up on appropriate items can keep the high-sugar options out of your diet. 

Non-Food Items:


First Aid Kit

Medical Appropriate Items (to provide post-op care) – such as reusable ice bags, pain medication, alcohol wipes, Band-Aids, or other items to care for your incisions

Cooking Resources – such as a manual can opener, bottle opener, filled propane tanks, charcoal, lighter fluid, lighters, battery-powered blenders

Bug repellent, sunscreen, battery-operated fans, and other items that will keep you comfortable and safe during hurricane recovery

Lists of area emergency services/shelters

Battery-powered radios and flashlights


Baby Wipes

Paper Products

Dry shampoo and hygiene products

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Orange Berry Smoothie

Orange Berry Smoothie

Yield: 1 cup     Protein per cup: 22 grams
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
¼ c. vanilla Greek-style yogurt
¼ c. Trop50 orange juice
¼ c. ice
¼ c. frozen raspberries

In a blender, combine the ice, raspberries and orange juice. Mix protein powder into yogurt and spoon into blender. Blend for 10-15 seconds, until smooth.
Experiment with other low-sugar yogurt flavors like peach, key lime, lemon, strawberry and raspberry. Try substituting ¼ c small frozen bananas, blueberries, peaches or blackberries for the raspberries.
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