FAQ’s with Dr. Barchugova

Q:  I am trying to loose weight. What do I do if I need to eat outside of home? What if I have no other choice than a fast food restaurant?

sugar photoA:  When we cook meals at home, we have more control over food ingredients, for example we can limit amount of sugar and fat, we can use natural ingredients that have more fiber and important nutrients. What happens to processed food? It looses fiber and water that are essential for weight control and gains sugar, salt and other additives to prolong shelf live. But our lifestyle does not always allow us to have only home cooked meals. We want to socialize, go out and sometimes we just need to grab something quickly for lunch and fast food is usually the cheapest and most available option.

So, what can we do to avoid gaining weight? 

First of all, ask yourself if it’s your own choice or if you feel pressure from your friends or family to eat where they want to eat. If you feel that you could make a healthier choice, but need to go with the flow at this point, there is always an option to say something like “I am not really hungry now, but I would love to have a coffee”.

You will notice that it’s usually better accepted than “I am on a diet and I really should not go to McDonalds”. If you just say you are not hungry, most of the time nobody will try to influence you to eat.

If you are actually hungry, then you may consider one of the following options:

  1. Order a Kid’s Meal
  2. Share your meal
  3. Ask for a smaller portion
  4. Ignore Value Combos (those are usually bigger portions, mostly more French fries and soda)

Drink WATER or DIET soda. Do you know that 12 ounces of regular soda contain 9 teaspoons of sugar (about 140 calories)?

If you eat in a restaurant you may want to look for items that are baked, grilled and steamed and to avoid items that are fried, crispy, or in cream or cheese sauce.

Eating a lot of bread in addition to your meal will fill you up with extra unwanted calories. Ask to remove or not to bring bread before your meal.

Most restaurant size entrees are meals for 2 people. Again, try to share!

Olga Barchugova, MD

Olga Barchugova, MD

For more information please visit: ministryhealth.org/weightloss.

If you would like to book an appointment with Dr. Barchugova in Weston please call: 715.393.3900 (option 1) and ask for a Weight Management Consultation appointment.

Let us know any questions you may have about the program by leaving a comment above.

The Weight Management Program at Ministry Health Care

Olga Barchugova, MD, is certified by American Board of Family Medicine and American Board of Obesity  Medicine.

Olga Barchugova, MD, is certified by American Board of Family Medicine and American Board of Obesity Medicine.

Patients who are motivated to lose weight can often achieve excellent weight loss results without surgery when properly instructed and cared for. A medically supervised weight loss program generally consists of changes in diet, physical activity levels and behavioral therapy.

If your previous attempts to lose weight have failed, it’s not because you failed. It’s because whatever diets or regimens you tried have failed you. There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution to obesity. And, contrary to popular opinion, obesity is not caused by simply eating too much or being lazy. Obesity has many causes. What makes our programs more effective than so many others is our knowledge of neurochemistry and our understanding of psychology, behavior, nutrition, metabolism, lifestyle, medical history and other considerations such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Instead of one-size-fits-all, our focus is on the unique needs of each individual person who comes to us for help.

About Olga Barchugova, MD

Olga Barchugova, MD, is certified by American Board of Family Medicine and American Board of Obesity Medicine. Physicians certified in obesity medicine are able to positively impact all systems of the body by incorporating weight management into traditional models of medical practice. Specifically, this subspecialty requires competency in and a thorough understanding of the treatment of obesity and the genetic, biologic, environmental, social and behavioral factors that contribute to obesity.

A member of the American Society of Bariatric Physicians, Dr. Barchugova received her medical degree from Petrozavodsk State University in Russia. She had several years of internal medicine training in Germany and completed her family practice residency at Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown, PA. Dr. Barchugova practiced in Illinois for three years before joining Ministry Medical Group in Weston.

How to Make a Consultation Appointment

Dr. Barchugova currently works out of Ministry Medical Group in Weston on the Ministry Saint Clare’s Campus. If you are looking to book an appointment with Dr. Barchugova immediately, appointments will be held in Weston. If you would like to book an appointment with Dr. Barchugova in Weston please call: 715.393.3900 (option 1) and ask for a Weight Management Consultation appointment.

We are working with Dr. Barchugova’s schedule so that she can have office visits in Stevens Point. To get on a waiting list for a Weight Management Consultation in Stevens Point please call: 715.393.3900 (option 1) and ask to be put on the waiting list for a Weight Management Consultation appointment in Stevens Point.

For more information please visit: ministryhealth.org/weightloss.

Let us know any questions you may have about the program by leaving a comment above.


     When I started this journey I had decided to go in to it with no expectations.  Alright, clearly there are some expectations of weight loss and to alleviate some prior medical issues.  Looking beyond that I did not want to set pounds or sizes into my everyday life. Waking up I wanted my everyday to be a day that I could put one foot in front of the other and push myself further than the day before. I made a decision not to weigh in everyday, not to measure my body everyday, not to ask my family “do I look skinnier” everyday and not to live my life the same way that I have in the past.  I came up with the plan of long-term goals both physical and mental that I would be able to work on one day at a time. 

     The initial thought of adding weight loss surgery to my pretty big list of medical conditions overwhelmed me.  I knew I had to come up with a plan that I could stay on course with.  That’s when I decided to let my body and mind tell me if I am getting healthier not a scale or measuring tape. Of course there are the moments you need to weigh in and measure and those are to be celebrated. So I have my milestones, things I can work on daily to reach eventually!  Riding rollercoasters with my kids, being able to watch a musical or play and fit comfortable in the seat, workout 2 hours straight, hit a loss of 100 lbs, leave “plus size” behind me and be smaller than I was at my wedding. 

     I am pleased to say that the rollercoasters at the Mall of America are great.  Watching the Nutcracker ballet was excellent especially since I didn’t have the sardine in a can feeling through the whole thing.  I can hit a pretty intense workout for 2 hours, as long as I get a hot tub at the end. I hit my 100 lbs  loss on the nose at my 5 month weigh in. I am now only 11 lbs away from the weight I was at my wedding and one size away from my wedding dress.  Plus size is only two sizes away from being out of my life.

     I can’t be happier with the person I am discovering that was hiding under all those 100 lbs. There are always going to be curve balls thrown and temptations everywhere.  The changes and growth both external and internal through this journey is something no one could have prepared me for.  I have the courage to be the real me and look forward to adding more milestones and growth to my future.

One step, one day, one journey…..take the time to breathe!

It’s time………..again!

It seems it was said to me over 30 times, ” after your surgery it is going to take all your energy and time just to fit in your meal plan”.  Every time it was said to me I thought,  3 protein shakes and 6 glasses of water, that’ll be easy enough. I bought my filtered water, all my protein shake mixes and froze my pureed delights. I had it covered.  Well boy I was wrong!

I came home from the hospital with everything pre-made and all scheduled out. A list of all activities and schedules for everyone in the house was graphed out. I then coordinated that information with a time sheet of what item and what time I would consume my shake, pureed food and water. I knew how determined, organized and stubborn I could be, so I was very optimistic. Of course now I just sound a bit “too prepared”.

Day one after coming home I was very sleepy still so I napped on and off and there for didn’t get much in. Day two I started my schedule. First, protein shake #1 with vitamins and calcium. That took about an hour to get down 4 oz. of fluid. I began to realize very quickly my schedule for that day may not work. By the end of that day I got two shakes down, and 10 oz. of water. Not the goal I was hoping to achieve.

By the time I reached the end of week one my time schedule papers became my coaster for my shaker and water cups. There was no way of scheduling or even knowing what amount was going in daily. I had finally gotten two shakes and about 22 oz. of water down. I was left with a goal that seemed unreachable and a hurt ego………nevertheless still optimistic.

It caused me to think back and remember throwing back a 20 oz. coke in just a sitting or a half a pot of coffee by myself with complete ease. Those days were behind me and I needed to find my new balance. I found that If I made my protein shakes with 24 g of protein but only 3 oz. of fluid I could get three in easy enough. I then carried a water bottle everywhere and kept them in lunch coolers in the car, bedroom and living room. I was able to sip all day and reach my protein goal. It also helped if everything was ice cold. I have to admit it took me 18 hours a day just to make that work but I did it and they all were right, I didn’t have time for anything except my meal planning.

It was time for my two week check up. I was so excited about my triumph over the duel of me vs. fluids. I walked in to the doctors office and explained how I didn’t do great but was getting better everyday and I figured out my formula to make it work. They then all told me that all was normal and not to worry, so that made me feel better. Plus I had completely forgotten I needed stitches out, check my incisions and weigh in. I almost hit the roof when they said your down 22 lbs.  After they announced my weight loss I again confirmed that I had made the right decision for me. All the hours of the day and all the time management was well worth a healthier life.

Everyday is a step further down the path of my journey.

The Surgery Preparations

It was almost time, the weeks were going by and turning into days before my WLS (weight loss surgery). Being the person I am I made a list of things to get done prior to the surgery. I did the usual preparations, deep clean floors, dust everything, prepare meals for the family and do every little bit of laundry I could find. I had bought my ice cube trays and made some pureed meals and froze them for myself. I even made sure to get note pads and pens for journaling. After glancing at my notebook I saw I had done all of the items on my list. Why do I feel like I’m missing something, I thought to myself.  Perhaps I had not thought of something for school or a birthday party I was forgetting about. It then occurred to me that maybe I was missing some mental/emotional items I needed to still get done. I knew this life changing surgery wasn’t going to just be my journey, after all it’s right there in “My Great Reason”…..healthy for myself and my family and to be a role model to all.  I needed to sit down with my family and make sure they were as comfortable with this decision as I was. We also needed to make sure all their questions were answered.

My husband and I had been very honest with our three children about the whole process. We explained there would be ups and downs and it will take strength and time to make all the changes in the house. They understood that I will be the only one going through a surgery but we are all changing together for the better. We then wrote down three goals we would like to achieve in one years time and sealed them in a box to be opened July 30th, 2014. It was the best thing we could have done to turn this surgery, which had everyone nervous and worried, into a family bonding experience. Leading up to this day I had felt like I was having surgery, I soon realized we were a team having surgery. That night before my surgery I had slept better than any night that month.

The alarm went off the next morning and I woke with such happiness and anxiousness.  I could hardly contain myself the ten minute ride to the hospital. I felt very prepared and aware of the procedure. The bariatric team at Ministry Medical Group did a great job giving me the knowledge of everything I was going to experience in the hospital, so I felt confident that I would do just fine.  The nurse had taken me back  to the pre-op room. In that moment a calmness set in. I was finally going to have the gastric bypass surgery after 7 1/2 months of preparations.  The woman on the outside was about to be one step closer to meeting the woman on the inside and I could feel whole once again.

I was ready! I was calm! I was strong!

The Check List

My check list was first given to me at the informational meeting. The first item was go to informational meeting….check, that was easy enough. I looked over the list going through the different steps I needed to take in order to achieve my surgical procedure. Turn in paper work, check with insurance, get letter of necessity, set up at least two sessions with dietician, and consultation with surgeon. Then it gets scarier with the next few items, psychological evaluation, sleep evaluation, upper endoscopy, attend support groups and finally schedule surgery. I was again feeling a bit overwhelmed. During the informational meeting I had no questions but now it was a different story.  Where do I start? Who can I talk to? How long is it going to take to complete this? It was as if I was playing twenty questions with myself except there were no answers. Later that week I received a call from my surgeons office. I was so glad she called so I could play twenty questions with her. Before I could even begin to explain my overwhelmed, anxious feelings she explained that she had already spoken with my insurance, will be making appointments for my dietician, surgeon, psychological evaluation, sleep evaluation and upper endoscopy. In a five minute conversation my worries were gone, my anxiety under control and most important appointments made. The next five minutes of our conversation included all the requirements of my insurance. My insurance requires six consecutive months of health and fitness appointments with my physician, detailed documentation of my struggles over past years and documentation of improvement of weight and health. I will say it seemed easy enough just time consuming with all the appointments but…. SIX MONTHS! I knew I was ready now I needed to show I was ready to everyone else.

Over the first month I was able to accomplish my first dietician appointment, my consultation, psychological evaluation, upper endoscopy, and set up the next five months of appointments. I had papers stacked ten high of nothing but appointments from December to May. They were all made for me and I was walked through the whole process. I didn’t know how I was going to do through the six months. Would I second guess my decision or get depressed that I finally made this huge decision and now I had to impatiently wait. I decided the best way to handle this was to reach out to others and gather motivation, tips and courage. The support group every month made it so easy to get through. I realized fast that there was no second guessing this was right for me. I also soon realized that all of the people in this one room are connected one way or another and I could get understanding that I couldn’t get just anywhere. I didn’t have to explain myself, defend myself or avoid the subject all together. I was accepted for just being me. Each month, each appointment, each support group counted down the time to my big day.

I completed all my hoops, obstacles and requirements and my paperwork was submitted to insurance for final approval. It should take two to three weeks to get their answer of whether I will be approved or denied for surgery. I spent day and night with my fingers crossed, hoping for the approval. My phone rang about ten days later. I will never forget what my surgeons office said, ” Jennifer, you’ve been approved for gastric bypass”. I literally got tears in my eyes. she then said “how about July 31st for your surgery date” I think I may have yelped or maybe even screamed a little and then said sounds PERFECT. I had finally reached the gate on my path that was going to lead me to my new beginning.

“My Great Reason”

It was about a year ago when I had the most impactful week of life. Many years of reasons and health issues had been leading me to this one life changing decision…..you know…” bariatric surgery”. As a mother of three and a wife of a great husband I regularly wake up happy and grateful but, with a bit of a low self-esteem and sadness within. The yo-yo dieting, exercising, HCG shots and weight loss programs had been consuming my life for 5 years. I tried everything except bariatric surgery. I woke up one morning and had no idea at the end of that week I will have found “My Great Reason”.

I started that week last October by getting injured in one of my aerobics classes. When I went to the doctor he said that it was too much weight to put on my joints. So I loved that catch 22….have to work out to lose weight and lose weight to work out. It was only two days later that I was walking down the street head held high, smile on and ready to take on the world. Then I saw my reflection in a store front window and I surprised myself by what I saw. I see myself as I am on the inside, but who I saw on the outside was not me. I then noticed the sadness in my posture with my smile gone. It occurred to me that I don’t own a full length mirror, perhaps I didn’t for a reason. The next afternoon I was shopping with my daughter who was 5. We saw a woman on the advertisement sign in aerobic clothes. My daughter then turned and asked” why don’t you look like that”, at that moment I did not have an answer other than I made bad choices and have some medical problems. She looked at me and replied” I still think your pretty but it would be nice if you could be healthy for me”. I went home that night and researched weight loss online for hours.

When I got back online the next morning I had found www.mygreatreason.com. I was in luck there was an informational meeting that week I could attend. I registered right online, went to the informational meeting and was greeted by a great staff. I had written down questions and brought my insurance information with. I didn’t even have to ask any questions they all were answered. I knew after meeting Dr. Selwyn and seeing the presentation I had found the right fit for me. I was full of fear when I first showed up for the meeting and walked out confident that I was ready to change my life.

My Great Reason: Being a healthy, happy role model for myself, my kids and all who are on the path to their great reason!