I was always "fat." I was in denial about the fact that I was now a mature woman with a severe case of morbid obesity. I was more than 100 pounds overweight and a prime candidate for a heart attack or a stroke. I had high blood pressure and such bad arthritis in my knees that I had to have one replaced and anticipated replacing the other. I couldn't walk without pain, even after the surgery.
Finally, I contacted a local clinic, the Western Institute for Health Maintenance, which functions out of UCLA and has a branch in Sherman Oaks. I spoke to the director, who assured me that if my blood pressure was at a normal level when medicated I could enter the newly popular fen-phen program--if closely supervised. My internist agreed.
My attitude was belligerent and skeptical. The program involved screenings, one-on-one meetings with a dietitian, reviews with a doctor, and blood work and EKGs.
The emphasis at the clinic was on re-education--not just "take a pill, eat as much and whatever you want, and wake up thin." I knew I wouldn't stay on a strict diet, so Sherry, my dietitian, began educating me. The medication suppressed my appetite and, more importantly, helped me develop new eating habits.
I stopped looking for items on a menu that would provide the biggest portions, nor did I desire something fried for every meal. What appealed to me were low-fat, low-calorie preparations, salads and fresh fruit. I learned portion control and soon was weighing everything I ate and reading the calorie content of everything I bought. At restaurants, I started asking for a take-home container when my meal would arrive and removing half of everything before I could be tempted to eat more than I needed.
As my weight decreased, my mobility increased. The second knee replacement was canceled, and my blood pressure medication was cut in half. Now I shop for petite size clothes rather than plus sizes, I've joined a gym, and I work out regularly with a personal trainer. I have even started learning how to line dance.
Between my new eating habits and the new activity, I lost 133 pounds in just over a year.
Today when I meet with people who haven't seen me since last year, I often hear, "Where's the rest of you?" What a thrill.
I have a whole new life. I participate in community activities, attend social functions without trying to hide in a corner, and walk to as many places as possible. I'm excited about the future and grateful for the guidance I received at the Western Institute for Health Maintenance, and the support from my family and friends.
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Name: Teddy Wilson
Occupation: President of Wilson & Miller Inc., finance and tax consulting
Height: 5 feet, 2 inches
Old Weight: 278 pounds
New Weight: 145 pounds
Time to Get There: A little more than a year
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