To make an appt, call or schedule an appointment online hereBook an appointment using SetMoreElevation Medical Weight Loss of Pittsburgh & Weirton
2350 Noblestown Rd. Pittsburgh, PA 15205 (412) 304-2016  
1130 Perry Hwy, Pittsburgh, PA 15237 (412) 847-8083
241 Three Springs Dr. Weirton, WV 26062 (304) 914-3112

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We are so happy to announce our March Buddy winners!
Our Green Tree winner is Melissa and North Hills (Wexford) is Tim.
And because we had such a HUGE response in Weirton, we drew two winners, BethMiranda.

We are blown away by how much our incentive program has been utilized. We thank you and want to remind you that we have extended it to JUNE!

To those of you who are new, our Buddy Program is designed for you to diet with a buddy. (It is always better to do it with a friend). If you come in together and both join a plan*, we will give you each $10.00 off and a free B-12 injection and put your name in a drawing for a month of the diet medication and B-12/Fat Burner injections. So grab your buddy and come on over. Make sure you come in when there is a prescriber scheduled, and we will be happy to help get you on your way to a healthier you!

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*You can be a current or new patient but must be ready for a new month of meds. You will not be able to substitute any winnings or plans/injections. You must BOTH be seen at the same appointment time slot. NO EXCEPTIONS to these rules.*

Exciting News for YOU and YOUR BUDDY!

To make an appt, call or schedule an appointment online hereBook an appointment using SetMoreElevation Medical Weight Loss of Pittsburgh & Weirton
2350 Noblestown Rd. Pittsburgh, PA 15205 (412) 304-2016  
1130 Perry Hwy, Pittsburgh, PA 15237 (412) 847-8083
241 Three Springs Dr. Weirton, WV 26062 (304) 914-3112

left hear ye                                                      right hear ye


We are thrilled that so many of you have decided to take advantage of our “Buddy” program! Our first two winners in our Weirton office were brand new patients~

Just to refresh your memory, below are the rules for the “Bring a Buddy” program!


diet buddies

January has come and gone and many of us are stuck with ye another yet of New Years Resolutions.  The number one New Year’s resolution is…you guessed it…get in shape and/or lose weight. 69% of us make that resolution every year and those who don’t usually start thinking about summer and joining in around now. How many times have you made that promise to yourself?

We try to be here for our patients, but for most of your success, it is entirely up to you. We also know that it can sometimes be hard to lose weight and that a support system can make a world of difference. This is why we are extending the “Bring a Buddy” plan for you with some exciting incentives.

Here is what you need to do:

-You can be a former of a new patient, it does not matter.
-If you are a former patient, you have to be ready for a refill on your meds.
-Bring a buddy with you, you both must get a prescription for meds, HCG, or sermorelin
Both people must physically be present at the time of the appointment.

Here is what you get:

-Each person will get $10.00 off of their medications
-Each person will get a complimentary B-12 injection
-Both of your names will get entered into a drawing at the end of the month to win a free weight scale (like ours in the office) and a credit toward a month of medications and shots.*

*There will be 1 winner at each office each month.  Drawings will take place on the last day each month from January 2018, through June 2018.  The winners’ first names only will be posted on the website and Facebook page.  All offices will be included in this incentive program. No cash or cash equivalent will be substituted for the end of month awards. If you do not want the shots, no cash equivalent will be given.  i.e. You don’t use it, you lose it.

One day or day one?  WE will decide…This is your DAY ONE!  Make it count…with your buddy!       

Congrats to our February winners: Paige at our Weirton office and Wenda at our Green Tree office!

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How to Start a Strength Training Program


As a primer ahead of my upcoming strength training series of articles, I want to spend some time on the fundamentals of creating workout plan so that you can get the results you want regardless of the specific exercises you choose. While I will encourage everyone to pick up a barbell or dumbbell from time to time, I care less about what you do than how you do it. I will focus on strength training in this article since it is the more effective for our goals than cardio, however if you are limited to typically “endurance” activities we can discuss you options on an individual basis.

A routine consisting simply of pushups, situps, and squats, or really any movement that requires you to move your body or move an object around your body, can be used to develop strength if done properly. When planning your workouts, there are 3 main components that you want to adjust to achieve your desired strength training goals: repetitions, sets, and exertion,


Repetitions, or reps, are a major factor in the results you get from your workout. Generally speaking, lower reps lead to more strength while higher reps nurture increased endurance. Of course its more complicated than that, but for our purposes we want to stick with weights that are difficult to perform for 3-12 reps. By staying within this rep range you can gains strength while staying safe. Remember though, repetitions only matter when you use the right weight, sets should be difficult but manageable with good technique.


Sets are groupings of reps, so if you do 3 sets of 10 reps of pushups, that would mean that you  did 10 pushups, rested, did 10 more pushups, rested again, and then did 10 more pushups. Generally doing anywhere from 3 to 6 sets (excluding warm ups) will get the results you want. You should also consider your reps when deciding how many sets to perform; the fewer reps you perform, the more sets you can do and vice versa. This ensures that you are exercising in sufficient volume to stimulate muscle growth.


Perceived exertion is just a fancy way to describing how hard you think something is. This may seem fairly straightforward, however I want to make it clear that the weight, reps, and sets that you perform are based entirely on you. I want you to feel like you are putting in a 8/10 effort with every exercise, hard enough to strain you but easier enough to control.
So that’s it, with these three concepts together with a fitness goal in mind you can start to put together you own workout routine. If you are now sitting there confidant that you understand the how of working out but are still lost on the “what”, browse around the internet, or ask a trainer at your gym, or just hold tight because my next few articles will try to give you some easy to do exercises to choose from.

An Intro to Strength Training: Lift Big to Lose Big


Anyone who comes into our office will hear me preach about the positive impact of strength training on fat loss, however many may not be sure where to start in pursuing a strength building routine. In this article I want to break down some of the basics that you need to proceed with a strength program, specifically the two different categories of strength building exercises that you are most likely to encounter in the gym.

2 Types

There are plenty of resistance exercises available to you, but not all exercises are created equal. When you pick up a barbell, dumbbell, or get into a machine, you will be engaging in one of two types of resistance exercise; isolation or compound.

Isolation exercises are those where the strain is localized to a single muscle group and typically require movement in only one joint at a time. An example of an isolation exercise would be a dumbbell curl, in which you merely bend the elbow and use primarily the bicep in order to lift the weight. Compound exercises on the other hand recruit more than one muscle group and involved flexion or extension in 2 or more joints. A bench press is a common example of a compound exercise, in which you use your chest, shoulders, back, and arms to move a barbell off of you chest.

While isolation exercises have their uses, in the beginning you want to focus on compound exercises, as these exercises elicit the greatest response in muscle growth, calorie burn, and hormone production.

In addition to the number of muscle groups used in an exercise, you also should considered the TOTAL muscle being used to push or pull the weight. Even among compound exercises there is a hierarchy;

Squats are the king of the weight room, since they use very large muscle groups as drivers (hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps) as well as to stabilize throughout the squat (lats, abdominals, etc). Not only will you maximize strength gains by focusing on squatting, but you will also see increased calorie burn as well as testosterone, adrenaline, and HGH production (great for stripping body fat).

The next on the list is the Deadlift. The deadlift is a move which involves picking up a weighted barbell from the ground and standing up. While this lift has a relatively short range of motion, it makes up for this in overall muscle used to execute the lift. Not only will you train all of the muscles that you hit with the squat, but you will hit the larger muscles harder and force your body to adapt to supporting an extremely large amount of weight. For all the reasons listed above, you may ask why Deadlifts fall to second behind squats but the answer is fairly simple; deadlifts are just too hard to do as often as squats and so must take a lower priority.

The last lifts I will address are the Bench Press and the Standing Press. Unlike the first two exercises, these lifts focus on the upper body (chest and shoulders respectively) but still do so in a compound way. These lifts should be attempted at least once weekly in order to maintain and improve upper body strength and composition, not to mention if you want to have toned arms and shoulders after you’ve managed to strip off the fat and show off your hard earned muscles.

I will follow up this article with individual writeups about each of the listed exercises and more, as well as include advice on how to approach your sets and reps when approaching a new routine.

-Coach Drew

5 Potential Causes for Your Diet Related Cramps and What You Can Do About Them


When you are starting a new diet and exercise program you may find yourself having leg cramps during the first few days or weeks of your new routine.  To understand why you experience this and what you can do to prevent recurrence, we have to examine the cause of muscle spasms.  

Most oftenly, leg cramps are caused by some combination of the following 5 reasons:

  1. Dehydration
  2. Electrolyte deficiency
    1. Low potassium, magnesium deficiency, calcium deficiency, and/or low sodium
  3. Vitamin deficiency
    1. Low thiamine (B1), pantothenic acid (B5), and pyridoxine (B6)
  4. Lack of muscle flexibility
  5. Overexertion

Let’s address each problem individually:


Drinking plenty of water (by plenty, we mean a gallon or more of water a day) is an important factor in keeping you feeling your best.  Water is critical at the microcellular level in the Krebs Cycle to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which your body uses to do pretty much everything.  Ensuring that you meet your daily water intake goals will improve your energy level, as well as provide your muscles with the resources they need to function properly.  Without adequate water intake, our muscles begin to accumulate waste byproducts, commonly referred to as “toxins”, that may cause spasms or cramping.  

Electrolyte deficiency

Ingesting plenty of dark green, leafy vegetables will go a long way in keeping you out of trouble and cramp-free. Even if you are limited to low-carb foods, you can still find good sources of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium.  Frequently, the two main electrolytes of concern that are responsible for leg cramps are potassium and magnesium.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) recommend a dietary amount of at least 320 mg of magnesium for women and 420 mg of magnesium for men, and 4.7 grams (or 4700 mg) of potassium for both men and women. You could be experiencing muscle cramps due to a deficiency in these minerals and if so adjusting your diet could be all that you need.

The chart below illustrate how much certain food contain in potassium and magnesium.  If you were to eat 8 oz chicken breast with 1 head of romaine lettuce and 1 cup of beets green for lunch (497 calories, 2581 mg potassium, and 192 mg magnesium), then eat 6 oz of 90% lean beef with 1 cup of spinach, 1 cup of broccoli, 1 cup of zucchini for dinner (437 calories, 3214 mg potassium, and 237 mg magnesium, you will then consume in a total of: 934 calories, 5795 mg potassium, and 429 mg magnesium, which will exceed your requirements for the two electrolytes.   

Meat/Fish Potassium Content Magnesium Content
8 oz chicken breast (230 calories) 359 mg 66 mg
6 oz 90% lean beef (344 calories) 618 mg 40 mg
6 oz salmon (354 calories) 618 mg 46 mg
8 oz tilapia (292 calories) 863 mg 78 mg
8 oz center cut pork chops (260 calories) 960 mg 46 mg
8 oz cooked chicken liver (263 calories) 526 mg 23 mg
Fruits & Vegetables Potassium Content Magnesium Content
Romaine lettuce, 1 head (108 calories) 1546 mg 88 mg
Beets green, cooked, 1 cup (30 calories) 1309 mg 38 mg
Spinach, cooked, 1 cup (44 calories) 839 mg 157 mg
Avocado, 1 cup (234 calories) 708 mg 42 mg
Edamame (soy beans), 1 cup (189 calories) 676 mg 99 mg
Zucchini, cooked, 1 cup (18 calories) 325 mg 21 mg
Cauliflower, 1 cup (27 calories) 320 mg 16 mg
Kale, cooked, 1 cup (69 calories) 296 mg 23 mg
Tomato, 1 medium ( 22 calories) 292 mg 14 mg
Broccoli, 1 cup (31 calories) 288 mg 19 mg
Strawberries, 1 cup (47 calories) 220 mg 19 mg

If you feel that you are unable to ingest the required amount of vegetables and have leg cramps that won’t go away, you may benefit from short-term supplementation with a daily magnesium and potassium tablets.   

Vitamin Deficiency

Deficiencies in Vitamins B1, B5, and/or B6 may be causing you cramps.  The mechanism behind this is not currently well understood, however evidence suggests that supplementing these vitamins may help treat and avoid cramps.

Thiamin (Vitamin B1) is necessary for the proper functioning of the muscles, nervous system and heart. Thiamin deficiency has been known to cause insomnia, fatigue, depression, constipation, irritability, heart problems and stomach problems.  Thiamin is abundant in organ meats, soybeans, egg yolks, poultry, broccoli, and asparagus.  The recommended intake is 1.5 mg of Vitamin B1 daily. 

Pantothenic acid (Vitamin B5) is responsible for the production of coenzyme A that is associated with the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates as energy sources.  Pantothenic acid is found in organ meats, egg yolk, and broccoli, fish, shellfish, chicken, milk, yogurt, mushrooms, and avocado. Deficiencies are rare, but pantothenic acid deficiency may result in fatigue, insomnia, depression, irritability, vomiting, abdominal and leg muscle cramps.  The recommended intake is 3-7 mg of Vitamin B5 daily.

Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) assists in the degradation and production of amino acids and in the process that converts amino acids into fats or carbohydrates. Vitamin B6 is involved in fat/carbohydrate metabolism, the removal of fluids during premenstruation, and healthy skin. It can reduce symptoms of hand numbness, leg cramps, muscle spasms. Deficiencies have been known to cause anemia, dermatitis, hair loss, anxiety, leg cramps, water retention, anemia. The recommended intake is 1.3 to 1.7 mg of Vitamin B6 daily.

Lack of muscle flexibility

Exercise consisting of particularly intense physical activity can cause your muscles to fatigue, become sore, and spasm.  Take every effort to stretch the muscle to cool down shortly after you exercise, and make an effort to incorporate stretching into your routine wherever limitations appear. Post exercise stretching of the muscles helps the fibers relax, reset, and promotes good circulation for recovery after exercise.  



Your body needs adequate rest after a difficult workout.  Any time you put yourself through high stress episodes such as exercise, you will need time to recover so you can improve your performance for next time and give your body time to catch up with all the good you’ve done.  If the muscles are overworked and tired, you may get painful spasms that can in turn hinder your ability to stick with your gym routine.

Unfortunately as with any drastic lifestyle change, there will be unwanted side effects accompanying your new diet and exercise routines. However with a little planning and preparation you should be able to prevent muscle cramps from negatively impacting your progress. So eat right, rest well, exercise smart, and stay hydrated and keep up the good work.

When It Comes to Weight Loss: Muscle Matters


Over the past few generations, countless people have exhausted themselves trying to “lose weight”. Rather, you should focus on exactly what are your “weight loss” goals. There’s no need to throw away the scale, but do keep in mind that in addition to fat, the amount of water and muscle that you have on your body can fluctuate greatly. Sometimes when the number on the scale goes up, it can be a good thing. The reason is simple: muscle takes up less space than fat, so a pound of muscle gained will shape your body differently than a pound of fat, while the number on the scale may remain the same. We don’t have to tell you that muscle looks much more visually pleasing. In addition to the aesthetic difference between muscle and fat, each pound of muscle gained burns roughly an extra 50 calories a day, which means that having more muscle will allow you to eat slightly more and there is some extra leeway in maintaining your body weight. It also means that for every pound of muscle lost, you will burn 50 calories fewer per day, sabotaging long term fat loss.

fat-vs-muscles background gone

So what does all of this mean to someone just wanting to shed some body fat? It means that if you want to get the best results, you should take up strength training. While not absolutely necessary for fat loss, strength training makes losing fat much easier while helping you notice faster results. Especially when eating at a calorie deficit diet, your body will protect muscle that is being used over muscle that isn’t, and so strength training preserves what muscle you have during the long term fat loss process. In other words, you lose what you don’t use kind-of-deal.

It also means that while dieting, you need to take measures to protect the muscle that you already have. There are a few things that you can do to help preserve muscle mass, like increasing protein intake, weight training, using the Elevation HCG diet, and meal timing (a more advanced technique worthy of its own post at a later time).  These factors all have a protective effect on your muscle mass during your slimming down.

So just remember that while exercise of any kind is a good addition to proper dieting, strength training has extraordinary benefits that often go overlooked when starting a fat loss program. Not only will you lose weight more easily while keeping muscle tone and improved metabolism, but you may find a new favorite hobby that will keep you fit.

About Dr. Cooper

Dr. Cooper first became interested in health and fitness while in medical school where she began training in powerlifting and learning about how diet influences athletic performance. During residency, she continued her fitness pursuits, and even participated in state-level powerlifting competitions. She used a tailored training and diet program to reduce body fat percentage while increasing strength and muscle mass.  Her hard work paid off when she placed 1st and set several Ohio state records in her weight class during her first powerlifting meet in 2013.  As a result, she qualified for the 2014 Arnold Sports Festival Powerlifiting Championship, where she placed 2nd in her weight class.



Over the past 3 years, Dr. Cooper has worked with thousands of patients in medical weight loss facilities and has come to love the opportunity to help others control their own weight and achieve their personal fitness goals.  She is happy to provide her extensive weight loss knowledge and share her experiences to help you shape the body that you deserve.


Check One Off the Bucket List


If there is one piece of advice that I gleaned from my experience running the Toronto Marathon, it would be to never run a marathon if you can avoid it. Of course I’m partly joking, the experience was grueling, uncomfortable, and frustrating, and this is exactly why I did it. It’s been said that no one has ever become great by being comfortable, and I have found this to be true in all areas of life including weight loss and fitness.

So many times we look at discomfort as a per se bad thing; however I see the willingness to endure discomfort for a purpose to be badge of honor, worn by those working hard to get what they want. Many times when we see a person who has made significant changes in their fitness we see only their results, but in reality what you are seeing are the culmination of hours spent in the gym, months of ignoring cravings and appetite, and a daily commitment to do whatever it takes to reach their goals.

I hope that you find something worth being uncomfortable for, and when you do that you take pride in the process of getting there. When your stomach growls and cravings hit, smile that you have made the choice to force your body to get rid of fat first. When your legs are sore and you are short of breath during exercise, imagine how your body will change to make your workouts easier. And if for some crazy reason you decide to complete a marathon, drag yourself to the finish line with the knowledge that you are tougher and more determined than all those people sitting at home on a Sunday morning. Remember that while they are being comfortable, you are becoming great.

Exercising for a Purpose: Setting Fitness Goals


One of the keys to successfully achieving any goal is to develop habits that help you reach it. This is especially true of losing weight. A great way to compliment your new diet is to pick an athletic activity that seems just a little too difficult and just do it. This is something that I have personally learned a lot about when I decided to give myself 12 weeks to prepare for, and run, my first marathon.

Of course not everyone will go from start to marathon in that kind of time frame, but anyone CAN pick a goal that seems just a little too hard for them and tackle it. Whether you choose to run a 5k, pick up a 200 pound barbell, or just walk around your entire neighborhood without sitting down, here are some tips that will help you reach your fitness goals.

Pick a barely attainable goal

After you’ve thought about what kind of activity you want to do, it is a good idea to think of what you could do in 4 months, and decide to do it in 12 weeks. By overreaching just slightly you will be motivated to work harder and may just surprise yourself with how well you do.

Exercise frequently, but don’t hurt yourself

A lot of people, when first attempting to lose weight through exercise, will push themselves to the point of injury early on and find that they unable to continue their new routine. Exercise as frequently as you can so long as you have enough energy and aren’t experiencing pain beyond typical soreness. (If you do experience exercise related pain that is either unbearable or not within you muscle, ask a medical profession before continuing any new program.)

Mix it up

Despite what you may expect, my marathon training program did not involved countless miles ran over days and days. Instead I ran a few times a week, often times running shorter distances repeatedly, and lifted weights throughout. This kind of approach helps keep things fun while avoiding the “repetitive motion injuries”. If you have a specific goal in mind and aren’t sure where to start, ask us and we will try to point you toward an appropriate training program.

Feed your exercise

While you want to be on a calorie deficit in order to lose weight, do keep in mind that the amount of energy your body can burn from body fat in a day is limited. If you have especially difficult workouts, or find yourself exercising vigorously and frequently mention this to your doctor when discussing nutrition plans in order to adequately fuel your body for exercise.


Stretch well, sleep well, and recover well. You body needs these things to stay healthy and to get strong, so don’t ignore the recovery if you want the best results from your exercise.

That’s it, a few tips to help you get started on whatever activity you decide to pursue. Good luck, and for any of you who are wondering, I am running the Goodlife Fitness Toronto Marathon in 2 days as of this posting. Look for a follow up article after my race for some additional reflections as well as some tips on how to pick your next first goal after achieving your first.  I hope to see some of you next year at the Pittsburgh marathon.

Welcome to Elevation

– where we will help you meet your weight loss goals to have your best year yet

Our solution for weight loss is permanent lifestyle modification.  Here at Elevation, we will help you meet those goals by implementing an effective diet and exercise regimen.  Our medical weight loss program encourages combining the Elevation Diet with moderate exercise as a means to reach your goals.  We will work with you to create your own individualized plan of action.