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Thursday, July 04, 2013

As I sit here watching Independence Day celebrations I decided to take a few minutes to reflect on my last few years. My initial weight loss journey began in 1995, at the time I weighed 309 lbs. It is always interesting to understand what it is that finally incentivizes us to start on this journey. As a family, we had previously taken a rafting trip down the Green River, my daughter now wanted to take another rafting trip. We decided in October, 1995 that we wanted to float the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. I knew I would not enjoy this trip at 309 lbs so I made the commitment to lose weight. I've done this before, but succeeded in losing only to gain the weight back. I started with a low fat diet and walking on the treadmill 20 minutes daily and Phen-fen. I was losing 2-3 lbs weekly and having great success. I pushed the treadmill to 60 minutes daily plus a stationary bike. When Spring came, I started walking outside, 60 minutes daily, up to 4 miles per hour. We live in the hills of Ogden, Utah so I started walking the hills. By the time of our early June trip down the Grand Canyon I weighed 219 lbs. I hadn't weighed that little since my late 20s! I was able to hike and thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

After we returned from that trip, I continued my weight loss program. The weight continued to decrease until I reached 170 lbs. I was walking 60 minutes daily and had added sym workouts three days weekly. I was in the best shape of my life and really felt good. However, I had no idea how to maintain this weight loss. Phen-fen was taken off the market. I gained some weight but maintained my weight under 200 lbs. I felt I was doing well.

In 2001 the bottom fell out. I was becoming fatigued. My sleeping habits hadn't changed, however I was always tired. I would come home from work exhausted. I thought I was not working out enough so I decided to increase my workouts. I came home after my walks. I tried to do some strength training but found I was too exhausted. I saw my primary care physician who decided to run blood tests, the results, I had Sjogren's Syndrome. Sjogren's Syndrome is an autoimmune disease in which the body's own antibodies attack the lacrimal glands that produce tears and the salivary glands that produce saliva. Fatigue is often a symptom as it was in my case. As a pediatrician, I was often sleep deprived with call responsibilities and night calls from parents, but this fatigue was different. It was a mind numbing fatigue I couldn't shake.

I also found that not many physicians know much about Sjogren's Syndrome. I finally found a Sjogren's Syndrome specialist in San Diego whom I visit every 3-4 months. His care for me has made a tremendous difference. I continued to work, but the stress increased. Unfortunately one of the results of the stress was a weight gain. I ballooned back up to 267 lbs. Finally after many years of my rheumatologist trying to get me to retire, in January of 2008, I decided that was the best decision for me. It took 8 months to sell my practice, finally in August of 2008, the retirement became official. I couldn't believe how much stress I had been carrying until it wasn't there anymore.

In February of 2008, I developed angina. An angiogram showed I had a partially blocked artery in my heart. I had a stent placed. This was another indication that I needed to lose weight so I started on my second weight loss journey. This time with Spark People and without drugs. I found the nutrition and fitness trackers invaluable. My initial goal was to lose 67 lbs, to get to 200 lbs. Once I reached that goal, I lost 10 more lbs. With the help of Spark People I stayed between 190-200.

In April 2012, I was diagnosed with pre-Diabetes. I knew then I had to lose more weight. By November 20, 2012, my weight went from 192-165. My doctors and I agreed 165 was a reasonable goal. I went into maintenance mode with Spark People. Right now I can not exercise as i wish to because I need a revision of my total knee replacement. Just walking around Costco is painful. I'm hoping in 3 months that issue will be resolved as I am scheduled for surgery July 16.

Today I weigh 160.5. I have maintained for 6.5 months, a record for me. I feel 160-165 is my natural weight and I feel great at this weight. I have lost in total 149 lbs, almost half of my body weight. I feel good about where I am and proud of what I have achieved.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I found your story so inspiring, Doc. Thank you so much for sharing so openly. It is so encouraging. I am still at the beginning of my weight loss journey and sometimes the road seems so long. I have managed to lose a bit over 40 pounds so far. I don't have Sjogren's but other auto-immune issues with hypothyroidism and b12 issues, which have made this challenging. What you said about trying to figure out what the motivating factor is for people to finally start working in earnest is something that has occupied my mind a lot too. I am still not sure what exactly finally gave me the urgency I needed to start but I am so grateful I did and so grateful for this site. Anyway, I just wanted to tell how much your story meant to me and how inspiring it was. Thank you! And best of luck to you with your knee surgery. emoticon
    2749 days ago
  • no profile photo CD5575543
    emoticon Best of luck with the surgery. And emoticon for everything else. emoticon
    2752 days ago
  • PHOENIX1949
    emoticon emoticon Best wishes for a successful surgery and rapid healing.
    2753 days ago
    That's fantastic!
    2754 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.