Amy's Real Story
"I Was Addicted to Food"
Patient: Amy, age 38
Program: Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) through Dean's Comprehensive Weight Management Program
Results: Lost 155 pounds and has remained at or below goal weight since April 2009
Amy is a numbers person. In accounting, numbers aren't just close enough, they're exact. Unfortunately, that's the way she started to think about her weight, as well.
"One of the most important things I learned from Dean's Comprehensive Weight Management Program is that it's okay to have a 10-pound fluctuation in my weight," Amy shares. "That was a big thing for me because — in my mind — I felt like if I gain five pounds, then why not gain 100?"
And that's exactly what she did after having her first child, gaining and losing and gaining again repeatedly for more than 10 years. Most often, her weight hovered between 250 - 300 pounds.
"I had tried to lose weight so many times," she says. "But I never really committed to getting healthy."
So when Amy and her husband saw an ad for Dean's CWMP in their Dean Health Plan newsletter, she liked that it was affiliated with a medical center.
"This program was different," she explains. "It wasn't a sales thing. It wasn't so focused on losing weight. It was truly about wanting to help people be healthy."
The Program and her Addiction
Amy attended an Informational Meeting and chose the Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD). This diet uses high-protein, low-calorie shakes and bars to replace all food for about six months. You then transition back into eating regular food after working with a nutritionist.
"I could tell from the get go that this wasn't going to be a quick Band-Aid® fix," Amy shares. "They had so many options from small stuff all the way to surgery. I chose the most intense, non-invasive program they offered. I figured if I hated it, then there were another eight options to fall back on."
Amy didn't hate it. She lost 100 pounds in the first 6 months. She continued to lose another 50+ pounds, surpassing her goal weight to reach a healthy 153 pounds.
"People ask me all the time if it was hard to give up food," Amy confides. "It was so easy. It kind of helped me ‘detox' from food. The first week was hard, but then you're not hungry anymore and you don't have to think about food at all. Six months with no food gave me time to rewire my brain."
Amy especially liked losing weight so quickly. "I liked that I was taking off three or four pounds a week. It's hard not to be motivated when losing so much."
Amy spent those first six months without food at weekly group meetings. They talked about nutrition, her relationship with food, healthy habits, and exercise to help prepare her for the transition back to regular food.
"I really learned what situations and environments were problems for me," she shares. "I realized the car was a trigger. I decided in the second week of the program that I would never eat fast food in the car again."
Exercise was a bigger challenge for Amy.
"I never liked exercise," she explains. "I wasn't in a hurry to exercise when I started the program, so I started small. I'd take a 10-minute walk with my dog. Within six months, I started going to the gym. Now I just have this drive to stay healthy."
The biggest challenge for Amy, though, was the transition back to real food.
"I was scared," she admits. "It's like an alcoholic having to start drinking again and control it. It helped so much to work with the nutritionist and create a customized plan to make that transition easier."
The Joy of Keeping It Off
"This program has empowered me to take control of my weight," says Amy. "They showed me mathematically how it works. They've given me every resource, and I have access to them forever."
For instance, Amy recently met with the nutritionist again because she had questions and wasn't happy with how she was feeling. She can buy the shakes or bars for as long as she'd like, but prefers to wean off of them for good. And she continues to attend group meetings at least monthly.
"My plan is to go to meetings for the rest of my life," Amy confirms. "I was addicted to food. If an alcoholic has to go to AA meetings for the rest of his life, then why wouldn't I have to go to group meetings for the rest of my life?"
Luckily, Amy enjoys attending meetings and inspiring others who are going through the program.
"I used to act a lot shyer than I really am," Amy shares. "Now, from an energy standpoint and a self-concept standpoint, it's just amazing. I look and feel like me again. I can do so much more with my kids...which is truly awesome. I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to be in this program. It has helped me portray to people who I really am."