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What is medical weight loss?

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Embarking on a weight loss journey can be a monumental, life-altering decision, permeating more than just physical changes, but emotional and psychological transformations as well. But, what happens when conventional weight loss methods do not yield the desired results? Welcome to the realm of Medical Weight Loss, a scientifically driven approach where healthcare professionals curate, guide, and monitor weight loss strategies to ensure safety, efficacy, and sustainability in your voyage towards health betterment.

The omnipresence of excess weight and obesity has amplified globally, becoming a paramount public health concern. The World Health Organization has acknowledged this escalating issue, underscoring its profound implications on an individual’s health, which can cascade into a myriad of complications, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and even certain cancers. Ergo, shedding light on effective and safe weight loss methods becomes pivotal in addressing this pervasive issue.

This article aims to demystify the concept of medical weight loss, delineating its essence, components, processes, benefits, and risks. Delve deeper with us as we navigate through its structured and evidence-based methodology, contemplating its place and efficacy within our contemporary society laden with weight-related dilemmas. Together, we will explore real-life cases, scientific explanations, and expert insights that envelop this specialized approach to weight management, engendering a nuanced understanding that transcends mere caloric computations.

In this enlightening journey, we will unwrap various facets of medical weight loss, illuminating its potential to become a beacon for those entwined in the often-tumultuous path of weight management, and discerning if it could be the linchpin in fostering a healthier, more balanced society.

The Epidemic of Obesity and Overweight

In an era where convenience often supersedes quality, particularly in dietary contexts, the epidemic of obesity and being overweight looms ever larger, casting a formidable shadow on global health.

As per the World Health Organization, an estimated 2.8 million people die each year because of being overweight or obese, spotlighting a crisis that triggers a cascade of health concerns that reach far beyond mere aesthetic and societal perceptions. Obesity is not discriminative, infiltrating societies across age, gender, and socio-economic statuses, proving itself to be a pervasive threat that necessitates meticulous understanding and intervention.

The implications of excess weight seep deeply into the biological, psychological, and social domains of an individual’s life. From a health perspective, obesity acts as a catalyst for numerous complications. Type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, stroke, and certain types of cancers are inexorably linked with obesity, significantly elevating the risks as the Body Mass Index (BMI) ascends. Moreover, it’s not only about physical health—mental health often takes a parallel toll. The perpetuating cycle of weight gain, societal pressure, and the frequent inability to achieve desired weight loss can burgeon into mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

Socioeconomically, obesity plays a deceptively robust role in escalating healthcare costs and dampening productivity, shaping itself as a substantial economic burden. Lost workdays, reduced work productivity, and premature mortality extract hefty tolls from national economies, channeling vital resources away from other potential allocations.

In deciphering the myriad factors contributing to this widespread issue, one cannot ignore the rise of high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods, sedentary lifestyles propelled by technological advancements, and at times, genetic predispositions. The overlay of these variables often intertwines with the psychological realm, where food may be utilized as a conduit for emotional regulation, further complicating the pathway to sustainable weight management. Understanding the monumental impact and the multi-faceted nature of the obesity epidemic forms the bedrock upon which targeted, effective interventions, like medical weight loss, can be developed. As we transition into discussing various weight loss methods, bear in mind this complex, intertwining web of factors, acknowledging that the journey towards optimal weight isn’t merely about calories—it encompasses the entirety of the individual: body, mind, and environment.

doctor doing consultation

Traditional Weight Loss Methods

Embarking upon the path of weight reduction often introduces individuals to a plethora of traditional weight loss methods, each promising success yet anchored in varied principles and practices. The battle against the bulge has spawned countless diets, exercise regimens, and lifestyle interventions, all vying for effectiveness in a sea of eclectic and often contradictory methodologies.

Dietary interventions often reside at the forefront of traditional weight loss endeavors. From low-carb Keto diets, caloric deficit models, to plant-based approaches, the dietary sphere is inundated with options, each propounding its benefits and potential drawbacks. While some individuals find solace and success within these dietary confines, others may navigate through a labyrinth of trial and error, often marred by frustration, transient results, or nutritional imbalances.

Parallelly, exercise is heralded as a crucial companion in weight management, with multifaceted benefits extending beyond mere caloric expenditure. Ranging from cardiovascular exercises, strength training to yoga, each modality presents its unique advantages and potential suitability to various individuals. However, for some, especially those with significant weight to lose or health concerns, traditional exercise protocols can be daunting, inaccessible, or even risky, demanding alternative or supplementary approaches.

Despite the seeming straightforwardness of the “calories in, calories out” equation, the practical application and sustainability of traditional weight loss methods often stumble upon numerous obstacles. Psychological barriers, metabolic adaptations, lifestyle limitations, and the omnipresent allure of societal norms and convenience pose significant challenges, often derailing earnest, and well-intentioned weight loss attempts.

Moreover, a crucial pitfall resides in the lack of comprehensive personalization and support within conventional methods. The singular, often isolating journey may lack the multidimensional support necessary to navigate through physiological, psychological, and practical hurdles, opening the door to cyclical patterns of weight loss and regain, colloquially known as “yo-yo dieting.”

As we unveil the concept of medical weight loss in subsequent sections, we will explore how it attempts to dismantle these barriers, weaving medical oversight, personalization, and a structured framework into the weight loss journey, endeavoring to sculpt a pathway that’s not only effective but also sustainable and holistically supportive.

Defining Medical Weight Loss

In a landscape brimming with weight loss solutions, the burgeoning quest for a method that intertwines efficacy with sustainability brings us to a pivotal juncture: understanding medical weight loss. Unlike conventional strategies, medical weight loss transcends the often-linear perception of weight management, anchoring itself firmly within a multidisciplinary, scientific, and personalized framework.

Medical weight loss takes a resolute departure from one-size-fits-all solutions, meticulously intertwining medical science, personalized care, and strategic planning to foster an environment conducive to sustainable weight management. At its core, it is not merely a diet or an exercise plan, but a comprehensive, medically supervised program, meticulously tailored to the unique physiological, psychological, and social contexts of everyone.

Delving deeper into its essence, medical weight loss navigates through the individual’s journey with a lens firmly focused on health, rather than mere numerical victories on the scale. It is embedded in a philosophy that perceives weight management not as an isolated objective but as an integral component of overall health and well-being.

Medically supervised weight loss programs typically commence with a thorough medical evaluation, dissecting an individual’s medical history, physiological markers, metabolic rate, and potential underlying causes or contributors to weight gain, such as hormonal imbalances or metabolic disorders. This initial assessment acts as a compass, guiding healthcare professionals in curating a bespoke weight management plan that synergizes dietary, physical, and behavioral strategies, all underpinned by ongoing medical supervision and support.

Within the medical weight loss realm, healthcare providers leverage a multitude of tools and strategies, often incorporating FDA-approved weight loss medications, specialized dietary plans, exercise regimens, and potentially, surgical interventions, all meticulously synchronized with psychological support. It’s a pathway that envisages weight loss not as a solitary pursuit but as a collaborative journey, enveloping patients within a supportive framework that continuously adapts to their evolving needs, challenges, and victories.

What distinguishes medical weight loss from its conventional counterparts is this relentless commitment to personalization, ongoing support, and a structured, scientific methodology. It transcends beyond caloric calculations, engaging with the individual in a holistic manner that endeavors to optimize health, vitality, and quality of life alongside achieving weight management objectives. As we continue to explore the expansive panorama of medical weight loss in subsequent sections, we will delve into its core components, unraveling the intricate tapestry that weaves together medical expertise, personalized planning, and an unyielding dedication to enhancing the individual’s journey towards sustainable health and well-being.

woman stomach injection

Core Components of Medical Weight Loss

Medical weight loss unfolds a holistic and multi-pronged approach towards sustainable weight management, melding together several core components that collaboratively cultivate a fertile ground for tangible, lasting change.

A. Medical Supervision

Distinguished by its pronounced emphasis on health and safety, medical weight loss is meticulously overseen by healthcare professionals. Physicians, dietitians, and possibly other specialists navigate through the individual’s journey, ensuring the strategies employed are not only effective but also safeguard against potential risks and optimize overall health. This ongoing medical oversight is pivotal in managing pre-existing conditions, monitoring physiological adaptations, and making timely adjustments to the weight management strategy to perpetually align with the individual’s evolving needs and objectives.

B. Personalized Plan

The bespoke nature of medical weight loss underscores its efficacy. Everyone is endowed with a unique physiological, psychological, and social blueprint, necessitating a personalized weight management strategy. Through thorough initial assessments and continuous monitoring, healthcare providers sculpt a plan that synergizes dietary, physical activity, and behavioral components, all meticulously tailored to align with the individual’s health status, metabolic profile, lifestyle, and weight management goals.

C. Behavior Modification

Engrained behaviors, especially those tethered to dietary and lifestyle choices, significantly influence weight management trajectories. Medical weight loss, therefore, integrates behavioral modification strategies, aspiring to reshape habits and cultivate a mindset that supports sustainable weight management. Through education, psychological support, and strategic interventions, individuals are equipped with the skills to navigate through challenges, make informed decisions, and perpetually steer their journey towards health and well-being.

D. Medication

When warranted, medical weight loss may also incorporate FDA-approved weight loss medications. Acting as an adjunct to dietary and physical activity strategies, these medications are leveraged to enhance weight loss, manage appetite, or address specific physiological aspects that may be impeding weight management. It’s crucial to note that medications, when utilized, are embedded within a comprehensive strategy, and are prescribed in alignment with stringent medical guidelines to ensure safety and appropriateness for the individual.

As we peel back the layers enveloping medical weight loss, it becomes evident that it’s a pathway forged through meticulous scientific understanding, profound respect for the individual’s uniqueness, and an unwavering commitment to sustainable health and well-being.

In the forthcoming sections, we will further traverse through the nuanced landscapes of the medical weight loss procedure, exploring its methodology, phases, and continuous commitment to supporting individuals in not only reclaiming their health but also in reshaping their relationship with their bodies, food, and ultimately, with themselves.

Advantages and Challenges of Medical Weight Loss

In the convoluted journey toward effective and sustainable weight management, medical weight loss presents itself as a haven for those seeking a structured, scientifically backed, and supportive pathway. However, like any method, it unfurls a tapestry that intertwines advantages with inherent challenges, which merit exploration and understanding.

A. Advantages

  • Scientifically Backed Methodology: Medical weight loss is rooted in scientific principles and medical guidelines, ensuring that strategies and interventions employed are validated and safe.
  • Personalized Approach: The individual-centric nature of medical weight loss ensures that strategies are precisely tailored to meet the unique physiological, psychological, and lifestyle aspects of each person.
  • Comprehensive Health Focus: Beyond mere weight loss, the approach encapsulates a broader vision towards overall health and well-being, addressing underlying medical conditions and optimizing physiological health alongside weight management.
  • Structured Support: Continuous support from a multidisciplinary team provides a structured framework that nurtures, guides, and adapts to the evolving journey of the individual.
  • Behavioral Change: The integration of behavioral strategies aims to recalibrate habits and mindset, fostering a conducive environment for sustainable change.

B. Challenges

  • Accessibility: Often, medical weight loss programs can be financially strenuous and might not be readily accessible to all demographics, potentially limiting its reach.
  • Time Commitment: The method demands a significant time commitment from the individual, necessitating regular consultations, evaluations, and adherence to the prescribed plan, which may be daunting for some.
  • Overemphasis on Medical Intervention: There is a risk of inadvertently placing excessive reliance on medical interventions, potentially diminishing the empowerment and autonomy of the individual in their journey.
  • Emotional Strain: Engaging deeply with one’s habits, emotions, and lifestyle can be emotionally challenging and may unearth previously unaddressed psychological aspects that require additional support.
  • Managing Expectations: Ensuring realistic expectations and understanding that medical weight loss is not a quick fix, but rather a gradual, long-term approach, can be a challenging paradigm to navigate for both professionals and individuals alike.

Navigating through the nuanced spheres of advantages and challenges within medical weight loss enables both professionals and individuals to carve a pathway that is not only effective but also empathetic, realistic, and sustainable. Acknowledging the inherent challenges allows for the development of strategies that mitigate them, while the understanding of advantages provides a foundation that can be built upon, enhancing the potential for success and long-term sustainability.

In the sections to come, we shall explore real-world applications, case studies, and delve deeper into understanding how medical weight loss shapes not merely the physicality but also the lived experiences of individuals, unfolding narratives that intertwine science with the profound, personal journeys of health and well-being.

Real-world Applications and Success Stories of Medical Weight Loss

The foundational pillars and methodologies of medical weight loss unfold their real impact when viewed through the lens of application in the lives of individuals who navigate through their weight management journeys. These narratives, woven through the scientific and personalized framework of medical weight loss, shed light on both the tangible and intangible transformations that transpire.

A. Structuring a Holistic Journey:

In one exemplary scenario, consider Alex, a 35-year-old with a history of persistent weight struggles, paired with an onset of type 2 diabetes. The medical weight loss approach, in this instance, commenced with a meticulous assessment of Alex’s physiological parameters, medical conditions, dietary habits, physical activity levels, and psychological aspects related to food and lifestyle.

Alex’s tailored plan, crafted by a multidisciplinary team, interwove dietary strategies that were not only geared towards weight management but also keenly focused on glycemic control, considering the diabetic profile. Coupled with this, a structured physical activity regimen, suited to Alex’s fitness level and preferences, was amalgamated.

Perhaps most pivotal, behavioral counseling became a cornerstone of Alex’s journey, aiding in unearthing and addressing deep-seated habits and emotional links with food, facilitating a gradual recalibration towards sustainable, healthful behaviors. Moreover, through continuous monitoring, adjustments were made in real-time, accommodating physiological changes and enhancing adherence and efficacy.

B. Navigating through Challenges:

In contrast, envision Sarah, who, despite a plethora of attempts with various diets, faced a cyclical pattern of weight loss and regain. Sarah’s journey illuminates the challenges often encountered in weight management – the emotional turmoil, the physical frustrations, and the societal pressures.

Medical weight loss for Sarah was transformative, not merely in a physical sense but profoundly so in reshaping her relationship with food, body, and self. Sarah’s plan involved not only the dietary and physical activity facets but also a robust psychological support system that empowered her to navigate through challenges, setbacks, and victories alike, fostering resilience and a supportive environment that was pivotal in breaking the relentless cycle.

These narratives, and numerous others, underscore the potential impacts of medical weight loss, stretching beyond the physical transformations and deeply into the realms of psychological, emotional, and overall well-being. The real-world applications underscore the potential and highlight the vital understanding that each journey is profoundly personal and multi-faceted.

In upcoming sections, we will delve deeper into understanding the potential future developments in medical weight loss, exploring how advancements in medical science, technology, and psychology might further enhance and evolve this holistic approach towards weight management and overall health and well-being.

Prospects and Developments in Medical Weight Loss

In the dynamic realm of healthcare and medical research, the future of medical weight loss unspools with tantalizing possibilities, weaving together advancements in technology, medical science, and psychological understandings into the intricate tapestry of weight management practices.

A. Technological Innovations

The interfusion of technology and healthcare is progressively shaping a new frontier in medical weight loss. Wearable technologies and health apps are evolving beyond mere activity trackers, moving towards sophisticated devices capable of monitoring physiological parameters, dietary intake, and even mental well-being. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being enlisted to enhance personalized planning, dynamically adjusting strategies based on real-time data and predictive analytics, thereby fine-tuning interventions to be consistently aligned with an individual’s ongoing journey.

B. Advancements in Medical Science

Medical research perpetually unravels new dimensions of understanding related to metabolism, nutritional science, and genetics, which holds significant implications for medical weight loss. The expanding knowledge pertaining to the microbiome, for instance, paves the way for interventions that can potentially manipulate gut flora to optimize metabolic health and facilitate weight management. Similarly, advancing research on hormones related to appetite and metabolism, like leptin and ghrelin, might pave the way towards new pharmacological interventions that are more targeted and effective.

C. Psychological Approaches

As understanding deepens regarding the profound link between psychological well-being and physical health, future medical weight loss strategies may further intertwine psychological interventions within their frameworks. Enhanced strategies might integrate varied psychological and emotional support structures, employing methodologies like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mindfulness practices, and even virtual reality experiences to aid in cultivating a mindset that nurtures sustainable healthful behaviors.

D. Personalized Medicine

Personalized medicine, bolstered by genetic and metabolomic insights, presents a promising horizon where weight management strategies can be hyper-personalized, aligning interventions with the intricate genetic and metabolic profiles of the individual. This could entail personalized dietary strategies that consider metabolic and genetic factors, ensuring optimal nutrient assimilation, and mitigating risks of deficiencies.

E. Inclusivity and Accessibility

As the paradigm shifts towards a more holistic and inclusive approach to healthcare, future developments might focus on enhancing the accessibility and inclusivity of medical weight loss programs. This could entail developing frameworks that are economically viable, culturally sensitive, and universally accessible, thereby democratizing health and well-being.

Navigating through the realms of technological, scientific, and psychological advancements, the future of medical weight loss shimmers with potential, promising methodologies that are not only more effective and personalized but also encompass a profound respect for the multifaceted journey of everyone towards health and well-being.

In the concluding section to follow, we will synthesize the explored facets of medical weight loss, envisioning a pathway that is grounded in current practices yet perpetually evolving, embracing advancements and knowledge that nurture a future where weight management is truly holistic, sustainable, and empathetically aligned with the myriad of human experiences and needs.

Conclusion: Envisioning a Holistic and Sustainable Future in Medical Weight Loss

As we navigate through the intricate landscapes of medical weight loss, we weave through a tapestry that intertwines scientific rigor, personalized methodologies, and a profound understanding of the multifaceted human experience in the realm of weight management and overall well-being. This approach, delicately balancing physiological, psychological, and social facets, envisions a future where weight management is not merely a physical journey but one that is intrinsically intertwined with mental, emotional, and overall health.

Medical weight loss, as explored, blossoms from a foundation of scientific understanding, extends its branches through personalized and medically supervised strategies, and bears fruit in the form of holistic well-being and sustainable health outcomes. Its multidisciplinary and bespoke nature, integrating medical supervision, personalized planning, behavioral modification, and, when warranted, pharmacological intervention, illuminates a pathway that respects and nurtures the individual’s unique journey.

As we gaze into the future, we envisage an evolution that melds technological advancements, deeper medical insights, and an enriched understanding of psychological facets into this framework, enhancing its efficacy, accessibility, and overall impact. Through ongoing research, technological innovations, and a deepening understanding of the human psyche, we stand at the precipice of a future where medical weight loss is not only more effective but also more empathetic and attuned to the diverse tapestry of human experiences and needs. In encapsulation, medical weight loss is not merely a methodology; it’s a dynamic, evolving journey that reflects the multifaceted nature of health and well-being. It presents an opportunity to reshape narratives around weight management, fostering an environment where every individual is supported, respected, and empowered in their journey towards optimal health, well-being, and a harmonious relationship with their body and self. Get started with medical weight loss today!

Research Citations:

Medical weight loss refers to supervised weight management programs provided by healthcare professionals, typically involving a combination of dietary modifications, physical activity recommendations, behavioral therapy, and sometimes pharmacotherapy or surgical interventions for individuals with obesity or overweight. Here are some research citations that discuss medical weight loss programs:

  1. Kushner RF, Ryan DH. Assessment and lifestyle management of patients with obesity: clinical recommendations from systematic reviews. JAMA. 2014;312(9):943-952. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.10432
  2. Wadden TA, Webb VL, Moran CH, Bailer BA. Lifestyle modification for obesity: new developments in diet, physical activity, and behavior therapy. Circulation. 2012;125(9):1157-1170. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.039453
  3. Colquitt JL, Pickett K, Loveman E, Frampton GK. Surgery for weight loss in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(8):CD003641. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003641.pub4
  4. Jensen MD, Ryan DH, Apovian CM, et al. 2013 AHA/ACC/TOS guideline for the management of overweight and obesity in adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and The Obesity Society. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;63(25 Pt B):2985-3023. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2013.11.004
  5. Apovian CM, Aronne LJ, Bessesen DH, et al. Pharmacological management of obesity: an endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2015;100(2):342-362. doi:10.1210/jc.2014-3415
  6. Kushner RF, Sorensen KW. Lifestyle medicine: the future of chronic disease management. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2013;20(5):389-395. doi:10.1097/MED.0b013e328364d2eb
  7. Ryan DH, Johnson WD, Myers VH, et al. Nonsurgical weight loss for extreme obesity in primary care settings: results of the Louisiana Obese Subjects Study. Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(2):146-154. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.489
  8. Anderson JW, Konz EC, Frederich RC, Wood CL. Long-term weight-loss maintenance: a meta-analysis of US studies. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001;74(5):579-584. doi:10.1093/ajcn/74.5.579
  9. Jensen MD, Ryan DH, Apovian CM, et al. 2013 AHA/ACC/TOS guideline for the management of overweight and obesity in adults: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task Force on Practice Guidelines and The Obesity Society. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2014;63(25 Pt B):2985-3023. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2013.11.004
  10. Wadden TA, Butryn ML, Wilson C. Lifestyle modification for the management of obesity. Gastroenterology. 2007;132(6):2226-2238. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2007.03.051

These studies provide insights into the various components and approaches to medical weight loss, emphasizing the importance of comprehensive, evidence-based interventions for effective long-term weight management.

Questions and Answers: Medical Weight Loss

Medical weight loss is a medically supervised approach to weight management. It involves healthcare professionals creating personalized weight loss plans based on an individual’s medical history, physical condition, and weight loss goals. These plans often include diet and exercise recommendations, behavioral therapy, and sometimes prescription medications or other medical interventions.

Unlike self-guided diet and exercise programs, medical weight loss is a comprehensive, structured approach overseen by healthcare professionals. It offers a personalized plan that may include medical diagnostics, tailored dietary strategies, prescribed physical activities, behavioral counseling, and, when appropriate, prescription medications. This method considers the patient’s overall health, addressing any underlying medical conditions and ensuring a safe and effective weight loss journey.

Medical weight loss is generally considered safe as it is conducted under the supervision of healthcare professionals. This supervision ensures that the weight loss plan is not only effective but also tailored to the patient’s health needs, reducing the risks associated with unsupervised weight loss methods.

Individuals who have struggled with weight loss, those who are overweight or obese, and people with weight-related health issues like diabetes or heart disease can benefit from medical weight loss. It is also suitable for those seeking a structured and supervised approach to weight management.

The duration of a medical weight loss program varies depending on individual goals, starting weight, and specific health needs. Programs can range from a few months to a year or more for ongoing weight management.

A typical medical weight loss program includes an initial medical assessment, a personalized weight loss plan, regular follow-up appointments for monitoring progress, dietary and exercise guidance, behavioral counseling, and, if necessary, prescription medications or other medical treatments.

Yes, medical weight loss can be particularly beneficial for individuals with conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. Weight loss often leads to improved management of these conditions, and the supervised nature of the program ensures that any dietary and exercise plans are safe and effective for patients with specific health concerns.

No, prescription medications are not always used in medical weight loss programs. They are prescribed based on the individual’s health needs and medical history. The primary focus is usually on lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.

Medical weight loss programs typically involve a team of healthcare professionals, including doctors, dietitians, exercise physiologists, and sometimes psychologists or behavioral therapists.

The cost of medical weight loss programs varies widely and depends on the specific services included. Some aspects of the program, such as medical consultations and certain medications, may be covered by insurance, but coverage varies. It’s advisable to check with insurance providers and medical facilities for specific cost information.


Dr. Jay Flottman

Dr. Jay Flottmann is a physician in Panama City, FL. He received his medical degree from University of Texas Medical Branch and has been in practice 21 years. He is experienced in military medicine, an FAA medical examiner, human performance expert, and fighter pilot.
Professionally, I am a medical doctor (M.D. from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston), a fighter pilot (United States Air Force trained – F-15C/F-22/AT-38C), and entrepreneur.

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