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New (Virtual) Groups

Hello everyone,

We hope you are all staying safe and doing well!  We continue to receive great feedback regarding the transition to virtual/online groups, and we continue to add additional group options to support you.  You can access our  May calendar here.

In addition to our ongoing groups and classes, here’s what’s new starting in May:

1) Two fitness classes led by Allison Rose

  • Feeling Strong…for Every Body (Tuesdays at 7:30 – 8:15 am, beginning May 5th):
    Feeling strong is important for body and mind. This 45-minute, guided, gentle, online exercise class is aimed at 1) helping those who are new to basic strength training, and 2) those who have had a hard time adjusting their exercise plan during COVID and would benefit from a re-introduction to basic strength training exercises at home. This gentle class is designed so that no experience with exercise or strength training is needed to participate. Exercises can be done with bodyweight alone, with light weights (such as a dumbbell or resistance band, if available), or using household items (such as a soup can). Each session will end with a short meditation or moment of reflectionWe hope this class will help you to feel a bit stronger and have a sense of accomplishment to kick off your day.
  • Strong and Fit (Fridays at 4 – 4:45 pm, beginning May 8th):
    This 45-minute class is designed for those who have some strength training experience. Beyond basic exercises, this class is intended to focus on all major muscle groups and work up a sweat!  Basic cardio drills will be included with bodyweight exercises and dumbbells (if available; household items such as a soup can work well, too) or resistance bands. The session will end with a cool down period with relaxing stretches.

2) New Drop-in Group led by Dr. Michelle Toussaint

  •  Living Solo (Saturdays at noon-1pm, beginning this Saturday, May 2nd): Managing our lives during COVID – especially the physical distancing from our friends, supporters, and communities – is difficult for all.  Living alone presents additional and unique challenges. This virtual group gathers those who are single and/or living alone to support each other and work together on identifying, understanding, and managing these challenges, with a focus on understanding our thoughts, feelings, and consequent behaviors, including (but not limited to) weight and health management. 

3) New drop-in Group led by Drs. Bill Picon and Michelle Toussaint

  • Coping with COVID (Tuesdays at 5:30 pm (Bill) and Sundays (Michelle) at 11 am, beginning this Sunday, May 3rd):
    Despite the outpouring of resources aimed to help manage our lives during the pandemic, there are specific challenges for people who are also working hard to maintain a positive approach to weight management. This group aims to gather our community to share together how we are coping – both with the virus and with weight management.

4) Nutrition Class led by Nicole Brown

  • Meals for 1 or 2 (on Saturday, May 16th from 11 am-11:45 am
    Topics include meal planning, how to “cook once and eat twice,” “what can I freeze for the future?” and tasty and healthful meals that serve one or two people. Recipes, meal templates and shopping list templates will be provided.

5) Yoga Classes led by Amie DiTomasso

  • 45- minute Seated Yoga…for Every Body (held Wednesdays at 6:30 pm and Saturdays at 1 pm). *One-on-one private sessions are available if interested please contact our front desk team.

We look forward to staying connected with everyone.  If you have any questions or would like to reserve a spot in any of our classes, please contact our front desk team at or 202-223-3077.

New (Virtual) Groups

We hope that you and yours are staying safe and sound. We continue to be mindful about offering opportunities for support and interaction, even beyond our longstanding options. You may already know that our classes, groups, and workshops have transitioned to being held online. These have been very well received, and we have been working to add additional options for interaction, guidance, and support.

Here is a rundown of some new options on our schedule. For more information or to join in, please call us at 202-223-3077 or email

Nutrition workshop: “The COVID-19 Kitchen”
Saturday, April 18 at 11:00-11:45 am

Please join NCWW Dietitian, Nicole Brown for “The COVID-19 Kitchen” workshop. Topics include strategic meal and snack planning, recipe resources, ingredient substitutions, food safety, and strategies for grocery and e-grocery shopping.

NEW – short morning and evening mindfulness exercises

For many of us, working from home means losing much of the structure of our typical workdays. As a small way to help re-orient the days, we just began a series of short (5-10 min), guided mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation exercises.

Morning sessions are held Monday-Friday at 7:45-7:55 am to help kick off the workday.

Evening sessions are held Monday-Friday, varying between 5pm and 7pm, to help unwind after the workday. For some, we hope this will serve as a milestone to leave work to the side and begin your personal time for the reminder of the evening; for those whose work will continue, we hope this will serve as a few moments to de-stress and recharge.

All are invited. In leu of a fee, we ask that you make a small donation to a charity or cause of your choice.

Behavioral groups

In addition to ongoing NCWW groups, we have added additional options to help cope with the unprecedented challenges we’re experiencing. Groups are held virtually via our private videoconferencing systems. Administration (including insurance reimbursement) is the same as in-person groups.

Yoga…for Every Body

Our much-loved gentle yoga classes are being held virtually, too. These small, supportive classes to help you move better and feel connected to your body. Always individualized and nonjudgmental, they especially focus on those who are new to yoga, but are appropriate for anyone.

To join us for any of these, or with questions or comments, please call us 202-223-3077 or email

We’ll continue to update you on these and future opportunities. If you want to receive more frequent announcements about our services, please send us your preferred email contact.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need anything.

The NCWW Team

NCWW, COVID, you, and me

By Scott Kahan, MD, MPH —

I’ve been struggling to articulate all that I’ve been wanting to share with you about the coronavirus outbreak for a few days now. I wanted to strike the right balance between offering guidance, sharing news, and providing you with practical information about our team’s response to COVID-19 and how it will affect you. 

First, I want you to know that the National Center for Weight and Wellness is here for you, as always; and our team remains committed to supporting you and providing ongoing care.  

Naturally, in this rapidly-evolving situation we are responding with your interests and safety in mind. Here’s some initial important things to know, and we’ll follow up with more in the coming days:  

1. Effective immediately, we are transitioning NCWW services (individual and group sessions) to virtual care methods. Many of our appointments already occur by phone or private videoconference, and we have found this an effective substitute for in-person meetings. A few notes:

  • Insurance reimbursement works the same as for an in-person visit.
  • We are expanding our investment in technologies to make these sessions even more productive. We will provide you information about using these tools in the days to come. 
  • If you have an upcoming appointment, we will reach out to you beforehand to ensure you have everything you need to connect with your provider. 
  • Yoga and exercise services are postponed for now.

2. I’m proud to report that our NCWW community is already supporting each other in new ways. This weekend we held virtual group sessions, which went great. I’m quite hopeful that this will serve as a comfortable substitute for in-person attendance until it becomes prudent to restart in-person meetings. Moreover, I anticipate that some long-term educational and support groups will value virtual meetings so much that they prefer to continue to work together remotely, even beyond the COVID period. 

  • Those who regularly participate in live groups and classes will receive guidance on how this will work and information on connecting, shortly.
  • For those wanting to engage or reengage in group sessions, or if you have questions, comments or concerns, feel free to reach out to me.
  • We also see this as an opportunity to expand our current offerings and extend group participation to those who may hot have been able to join in the past. In the next few days we’ll also share more information about this.  

3. Remember that our collective responsibility to stay healthy and take sensible precautions extends well beyond the benefits to ourselves. You have no-doubt received lots of guidance about how to stay safe, which I won’t repeat here, but will include useful information and insights on our website, here: .  

Staying healthy includes managing your physical and emotional well-being. Strategies for managing your health, observing and responding to stress, and listening to your body have always been a central part of our curriculum at NCWW. These topics and new ones will feature prominently in our ongoing conversations in the weeks to come. 

While it may feel superfluous to focus on your long-term health goals under current circumstances, the intensity and confusion of what we’re hearing and experiencing will ease soon. And every day brings us one day closer to returning to normal life. Cases in China and South Korea, whose outbreaks started earlier than ours, are already significantly decreased. While we will see more cases here, the sacrifices we are all making together will help to bring this to a close.

As we navigate the next few weeks, you may think about re-framing the inevitable worry and inconvenience as an opportunity: To reconnect with friends and family, especially those who may feel isolated; to catch up on tasks, whether reading, tidying up, or trying an online class; or to relax and recharge.

And especially if you are feeling upset or agitated, let’s learn from it – we might explore how we interpret and react to adversity or ambiguity, learn about and extend the ways we cope with challenges and setbacks, or pay attention to and practice juggling the many competing and conflicting interests that yank us in all directions and often away from our best intentions. Of course, we’re here to support you and work with you on these and other important areas of health and wellness.

In closing, I encourage you to exercise calm and caution, and to observe good health practices – for your own benefit, and also for the welfare of others.  Know that decades of public health experience, know-how, and preparation for situations like this will minimize the health impacts and bring a close to this outbreak, hopefully quickly. I’m quite confident that we’ll be on the other side of this soon.

Please let me know whatever we can do to support you. Call or email me, your other NCWW contacts, or our administrative team with your thoughts, questions, or concerns.


Our take on that Biggest Loser study

By Scott Kahan, MD

Published in The Huffington Post

If you haven’t seen the New York Times article describing a new NIH study on long term outcomes of former Biggest Loser contestants, I strongly recommend reading it here. It showed that most contestants gained back weight and their metabolic rates plummeted.

Those who have read it seem to be universally upset.  Countless patients told me it made them feel hopeless – “what’s the point of all this if my body is just going to undermine my efforts?”  One patient was convinced that the author wrote it “just to make fat people feel like failures.”

I’m somewhat fascinated by the overwhelmingly negative and emotional reactions.  My own view is actually quite positive. Here’s why:

Read the rest of this entry »

Support – What happens when you don’t have it?”

By Kelly Theim Hurst, PhD

Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight and keep it off – especially through the holiday season or other ups and downs that life offers – knows that it can be quite a challenge.  What can make this process even more difficult to manage, though, is when you don’t have enough (or the right types of) support for your efforts.  Most people are lucky enough to have a few important people in their lives: perhaps a spouse or partner, family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc.  But even when you have people around you, there’s no guarantee that you can or will get the support you need.

Of the people in your life, give some thought to which ones know about your weight management goals? Who would you expect to support you through this process? And equally importantly, how could they support you? Have you ever expected someone’s unwavering support only to realize that they disappointingly came up short in this department?

Read the rest of this entry »

How you talk to yourself (and why it matters)

By Robyn Osborn, PhD

If you listen carefully, you will hear all sorts of thoughts running through your head at any given moment. There are the endless to-do lists for the future (pick up the dry cleaning, return that email, schedule eye exam, etc.) that take up space in our heads. There are the thoughts about past events and conversations (e.g., “I wish I had said no to that request,” or “I wonder if I made my point clearly enough in that meeting”). Then there are the most important thoughts—your own thoughts about you. These are the thoughts that are hardest to notice, and we call this “self-talk.”

Self-talk is the category of thoughts that most folks don’t tune into or even recognize they have, yet these are the thoughts that ultimately have the biggest impact on how we feel and what we actually do (or don’t do). I like to call self-talk the ‘stuff that lives in the gap between knowledge and action.’  Self-talk is what gets in the way when we say things like “I know I should go out for a walk” but then we don’t go. Read the rest of this entry »

NPR Series on Obesity in America

NCWW patient featured in NPR’s Here and Now for a special on Learning to Live with Obesity.

Scott Kahan discusses personalized nutrition on CBS radio

Dr. Scott Kahan commented on a fascinating new study in the journal Cell, which focused on new research that may push the field forward to better, personalized nutrition recommendation. You can listen below:


Navigating New Year’s Resolutions Pitfalls

By Robyn Osborn Pashby, PhD

December 31st marks that wonderful time of year when millions of people ring in the New Year with confetti and party hats.  Whether you choose to spend the evening out dancing past midnight or you prefer to snuggle into bed by 9pm, the new year isn’t just about celebrating; it is also a time when many people make New Year’s resolutions and try to take advantage of the fresh start feeling that January 1st brings.

For many Americans who struggle with weight, losing some of that weight is perhaps the most common resolution set each year.  But as you may have experienced in the past, the energy and focus you have to work on your resolution in January tends to fade.  And for most people, by the time February rolls around, you may be feeling discouraged and either at the same weight as you started or even with a few additional holiday pounds.  If this has happened to you, like it has for so many Americans who start out strong but lose steam a few weeks/months in, there are some simple steps you can take to try to make this year’s resolutions more sustainable.

Read the rest of this entry »

Scott Kahan named Chairman

Dr. Scott Kahan was named Chairman of The Obesity Society’s Clinical Committee.

The Society’s website describes the role of the committee as follows:

“Advises the Society on matters that relate to the clinical care and/or treatment of patients with obesity; serves as a vehicle for member clinicians to express their ideas and concerns to the Council; advises and guides the President on the appointment of members with a clinical interest in obesity to the Education and Public Affairs Committees in order to ensure full and accurate communication.”

Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

By Kelly Theim Hurst, PhD

Sleepless nights can affect every part of our lives. Beyond feeling fatigued, they can cause irritability, stress, increased appetite, and overeating. Fortunately, there are many treatments that can help. As a psychologist, I specialize in behavioral approaches to insomnia and other sleep difficulties.

The tricky part is that sometimes – like with Chinese handcuffs – the harder we work at sleep, the more elusive it may become. That is, imagine trying to force yourself to sleep by repeating: “I’m going to force myself to sleep now!” Rather, a gentler, strategic approach includes easing into sleep, starting with adjusting our environments, our bodies, and our minds to be as conducive to sleep as possible.

Read the rest of this entry »


WTOP News published a radio and online piece highlighting Kassie Barnes, a busy professional, great mom, and NCWW patient.  Psychologist and assistant director Robyn Osborn was quoted.

While it’s a great article, we take issue with a particular part: A personal trainer was quoted saying, “This is [just] old-fashioned…hard work.”   Read the rest of this entry »

Diabetes Myths

By Kathy Rodgers, MA, RDN, LD, CDE

As a registered dietitian and diabetes educator for the past 16 years, I have worked with many people at different stages in their relationship with diabetes.   No matter the length of time someone has been trying to manage their blood glucose, I hear two common myths over and over:

Myth 1: Carbohydrates are “bad” and should be avoided.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Number on the Scale

By Kelly Theim Hurst, PhD

Stepping on the scale can be an emotional experience. At NCWW, we understand that weighing is a personal choice. It’s up to you whether to weigh (or not), how often to weigh, whether to share your weight with us, and so on. In fact, we have a policy at our office that encourages you to only record your weight if, or when, you choose. We want to empower you to feel ownership over your weight management plan, which includes learning about which strategies help or hinder your path to managing weight and health over the long-term.

Read the rest of this entry »

NCWW Team members advise Mautner M.O.V.E. Project

Nicole Brown, MS, RDN, LD, HFS, and Robyn Osborn, Ph.D. recently completed their work with the Mautner M.O.V.E. (Making Our Vitality Evident!) Project Advisory Board. The Mautner Project of Whitman-Walker Health aims to improve the health of women who partner with women including lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, through primary medical care, support services, education and advocacy. Conducted by Mautner, the M.O.V.E. program was a targeted 4-month weight management research study aimed to help women who identified as sexual minority develop a healthier lifestyle. Studies have shown that lesbians are twice as likely to be overweight as heterosexual women and yet research with this population is limited.

In addition to her role on the Advisory Board, Nicole also was heavily involved in both the initial consultations for the research participants in the D.C. and Silver Spring, MD locations as well as ongoing nutrition counseling and educational sessions. She and colleagues worked to develop educational sessions and to support the participants of the study – and her efforts paid off. Their work was very well received.

Says Nicole of her experience with M.O.V.E. Project “The interaction at each of the group nutrition education sessions was excellent. Participants came ready to exchange info, ask questions and then take the info and apply it.  Honestly, it was a joyful experience!”

Dr. Osborn speaks at Children’s National Medical Center

Dr. Robyn Osborn was recently invited to host two career development seminars at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington DC. She spoke to the current psychology resident/intern class and to the post-doctoral fellows on issues related to medical psychology and professional development. Dr. Osborn enjoys such opportunities to mentor young professionals and looks forward to this annual event! 

How To Spot a Fad Diet

Dr. Scott Kahan was recently interviewed for a report on how to avoid fad diets and gimmicks. “Fad diets prey on people who feel helpless about managing their weight and health, and they ultimately demoralize us from moving forward,” he stated. Read more here.

Treadmill Desks?!

Dr. Scott Kahan was interviewed on Fox 5 News in a story about treadmill desks. “If you can make time in your busy day to go to the gym or go outside to walk or run, that’s fantastic. But for many people’s lives, including mine, there’s not much time in the day to devote to exercise,” he says. “With my treadmill desk, in the middle of my day, for example, I can walk slowly on my treadmill desk while talking on a conference call, for example.” Watch the interview here.



February Workshop: Get Your Back on Track

With our contemporary lifestyles of office work, sitting in traffic, and a proliferation of electronic media, it is no mystery that many people have some degree of chronic low back pain! Fortunately, alleviating low back pain with appropriate movement is also not a mystery!

Read the rest of this entry »

Shame Regarding Past Weight Loss Efforts and Its Effect on Efforts to Lose Weight Again

By Robyn Osborn, PhD

The American Lung Association writes the following about smokers: “…each time you try [to quit smoking], you learn a little more about the quitter in you. You become a little wiser about what to do and not do the next time.”  We can learn a lot from this perspective.

As someone who works in a multidisciplinary medical center dedicated to helping people manage weight through working towards wellness, I wish that more people would look at previous weight loss attempts with this same positivity. I wish that any effort at weight management was viewed as a learning experience that would bolster future efforts. Instead, when weight is regained (or never lost at all), these attempts are too often considered “failures.” Read the rest of this entry »