Meet Dr. Bollie
Meet Dr. Bollie
Hi! I’m Dr. Bollie, your double Board Certified Obesity Expert, Healthy Lifestyle Champion, and Great Listener.
I help people stop obsessing over the scale, get to their happy, healthy weight, and feel great in the process.
Through our proven approach develop a personalized, holistic, scientific weight loss strategy that you can use for the rest of your life.
Dr. Bollie's Biography
Dr. Sylvia Gonsahn-Bollie, the C.E.O. and Medical Director of EmbraceYOU Weight & Wellness, is a dual Board Certified Internal Medicine physician and Obesity Medicine Specialist with a passion for promoting health through honesty and hope. Her interest in medicine started at a young age while witnessing her grandmother’s health gradually decline due to the consequences of obesity, diabetes, & hypertension.
Dr. Bollie attended Wesleyan College in Macon, George where she graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s in Biology. For her medical training, she graduated from George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. At George Washington, in addition to her medical degree, she also received a certificate for special training in Medical Education Leadership. Her Internal Medicine Residency was completed at the George Washington University Hospital where she also served as Primary Care Chief Resident from 2013-2014. She obtained her Board Certification from the American Board of Internal Medicine in 2014. From 2014-2019 Dr. Bollie served over 2500 primary care patients as a primary care physician in the Bon Secours Health System in Richmond, VA, and had close to 10,000 patient visits. It was during her time at Bon Secours she matured her passion for treating obesity and weight-related conditions. After personally losing 40 lbs in 1 year (60 lbs total postpartum weight ) and learning more about obesity medicine, she formalized her experience by becoming board certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine in 2017.
From 2017-2019 Dr. Bollie was site leader & Medical Director for the Bon Secours Medically Supervised Weight Loss Program, where she helped over 60 program enrollees successfully lose an average of 40lbs within 6 months. Over the years Dr. Bollie has helped hundreds of general weight management patients, lose weight, and keep it off with or without weight loss medication based on the individual’s weight loss needs. Dr. Bollie is also skilled at assisting with medical weight loss prior to bariatric surgery and maintaining weight loss after bariatric surgery. In 2020, Dr. Bollie decided to combine her personal and professional experiences to create Embrace YOU Weight & Wellness. Embrace YOU Weight & Wellness offers a personalized, holistic, scientific approach to sustainable weight loss. Through her personal and professional experience, Dr. Bollie has learned that every body is different, and so their weight loss strategy needs to be individualized to their uniqueness for sustainable weight loss.
Dr. Bollie is an active member of the Obesity Medical Association. She also enjoys educating the public on weight-related topics and working to reduce weight bias and the impact of systemic racism. Her writings have been featured in Forbes, Yahoo News Online, and many other sites and publications.
When Dr. Bollie isn't practicing medicine she enjoys living by example. She makes time for her Faith, family, friends, fitness (especially outdoor running), preparing delicious healthy food, and doing anything creative from reading to arts & crafts.
Dr. Bollie's Weight Loss Journey
My unhealthy relationship with food, or, more specifically, refined sugar and sweets started in college. After being restricted from overindulging in sugary treats by my health conscious parents as a child this became my go to treat in college. Fortunately throughout college and medical school I had the metabolism to support the excess energy (“calories”) I was consuming.
This all changed after I had my first child. Like many of the women in my family I gained 50lbs in pregnancy. Initially I lost 20lbs while breastfeeding on maternity leave. However after returning to work as a third year medical resident I quickly regained 10lbs as I used cheap pizza, candy and cake to soothe my stress of being a new mom with a hectic schedule. I didn’t make time for exercise or any form of self care. I continued this unhealthy pattern into my first job as Chief Medical Resident and then as primary care doctor in Richmond, VA.
Left 6 months post partum, first child
Right: 3 months pregnant second child
12 months post partum
4th 10K race (2 years into weight journey)
"Be Nice to Sylvia. I like her" : Overcoming Perfectionism
When I arrived in Richmond, I was 40lbs overweight and had been for 18 months, since the birth of my son. I was officially in the obesity category. One day while attempting to counsel a patient on lifestyle changes I struggled to get the words out. I felt like a hypocrite advising others to optimize their health through weight loss and healthy living when I was not even attempting to do so. I realized that my excess weight was not only affecting my mood and well-being. It was also affecting my practice of medicine. Being a type A, perfectionist I tried to lose all the weight all at once by completely overhauling my eating and creating an unrealistic exercise plan for a full time, working toddler mom with a husband who was commuting 3 hours a day. Within 2 weeks I was already overwhelmed and feeling defeated. I was very negative about whenever I wasn’t “perfect” on my exercise or healthy eating. This would set up self-defeating pattern. The more negative I was, the worse I would do on my weight loss journey.
I confided in my good friend Kriss, and she said to me “Be nice to Sylvia. I like her.”
Small Changes Lead to Lasting Results
That simple advice unlocked the key to success in my weight journey. Once I started being kind to myself I was able to find solutions to the obstacles in my weight loss journey rather than berating myself for “making excuses.” Those “excuses” were actually my life and I just needed to navigate around them. Since the enormity of the amount of weight was daunting to me so I focused on 1lb at a time or rather one change at a time. I began to make small changes towards losing weight. I made healthier food substitutions. I started out with 10mins of exercise most days and gradually increased. By 2016 I had run a full marathon. The most important lesson I learned was what my “triggers” are for weight gain.
Left: 8 months pregnant
Right: Seven months postpartum (40lbs down)
Know Your Weight Triggers
I jokingly say my weight gain triggers are: pregnancy, stress, sleep deprivation and cheap pizza. However it’s true. By identifying my obesity triggers I am able to modify the controllable factors. While stress is unavoidable, I’ve learned positive ways to recognize and respond to it. The most important lesson I’ve learned on my weight journey is to love and prioritize myself and my needs. This helps to reduce my stress levels so I crave unhealthy foods less. I’m excited to say that understanding my triggers and how to healthily respond to them helped me lose the 40lbs I gained with my second child in less than 12 months.
Focus on Progress Not Perfection
My weight journey isn’t perfect but I’ve learned it doesn’t have to be. It just needs to be consistent. Also I’ve learned to value more than just the numbers on the scale. I’m grateful to have the energy and stamina I need to play with my two energetic children. Plus I’m showing them how to have a well balance healthy lifestyle that isn’t overly restrictive.
I hope my weight loss story helps to inspire others to: be kind to themselves on their weight journey, transform their obstacles to opportunities and focus on small sustainable changes.