Doctor's Orders: Lose Weight to Live. Now What?

You've felt a sense of dread ever since the receptionist at your doctor's office called to remind you of your appointment next week. You've had the "You need to lose weight" discussion with your doctor in the past, and you know it's coming again. But what if the discussion is happening this time because of specific medical concerns, not just overall health? You're aware that conditions related to excess weight include heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer and more, and you don't want to be one of those statistics. You know there's no avoiding it—it's time to face your fears head-on. It's time to seriously work with your doctor to create a plan to improve your health, deal with any existing medical issues and make permanent lifestyle changes for a better future you.   
If this scenario hits close to home, you're not alone. Many other people have found themselves in a similar situation, getting the news from their doctor that no one wants to hear. Getting a negative or even scary report back from your doctor, though, might be the very thing you need to hear to regain control of your life. Take a cue from four SparkPeople members who learned about their medical issues, decided to make changes and moved forward toward healthy living since the initial diagnosis.

Chose to Finally Take Care of Herself

  1. How did you feel when your doctor told you about your health situation and what did they recommend? 
    Two years ago after my annual doctor visit, my doctor told me I was overweight (though, he had actually been admonishing me for several years before), and my blood pressure and cholesterol were too high. If I did not take serious steps to lose weight, he was going to have to put me on medication. I was also at risk for many other obesity-related diseases. I remember sitting there, freaked out in one sense, but not really surprised either. I had been struggling with my weight for years, and at 200 pounds, I was at my highest in the previous 10 years. I strongly resisted going onto medications, and committed to taking whatever necessary health steps were needed. He recommended I change my diet, making sure to get rid of junk, eat healthy, less processed foods, and start getting active every day.

  2. How did you start making real life changes?
    At first, it was difficult because change is always hard. I began tracking and journaling my food intake, exercise, how I was feeling and changes I was noticing. For motivation, I read fitness and nutrition articles on SparkPeople, in magazines and other places. I soaked up every bit of information and applied what was relevant to my life and needs. I began drinking more water, eating less junk and fewer processed foods, and eating more fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. I also went back to weighing and measuring my food so that I had an accurate account of what I was consuming. I had to retrain myself in terms of portion size which was the biggest challenge for me. I started by gradually cutting down my portions, bit by bit, so that I could get used to smaller amounts and retrain my brain and appetite. I still allowed myself some treats, but they were occasional and in small portions.

  3. How did you overcome the fear of diagnosis to begin changing your habits?
    At first, I almost felt hopeless. It felt like this extremely long road ahead of me, and I thought it would take forever to see any changes. But I realized how stupid would it be for me to live with the added pressure and expense—not to mention health problems—of living on medications for something I had control over. This was a choice. I needed to choose to take care of myself.

  4. How have things changed since then?
    In 2015, I lost 40 pounds, dropping two clothing sizes so far, and my blood pressure and cholesterol went down. I feel so much better and have greater stamina. I had my doctor checkup recently and he was very pleased with all my numbers so I know I’m on the right track.

Said 'Yes' to Hard Work

  1. How did you feel when your doctor told you about your health situation and what did they recommend?
    I wanted to kick myself for letting my weight get so out of hand. I cursed and berated myself. Those words scared me, but gave way to the fears that I had always known were coming. My doctor thought I needed to see a gastric bypass specialist.

  2. How did you start making real life changes?
    I met with the gastric bypass doctor and decided that surgery wasn't a wise choice for me. At that point, I decided to do it the good old-fashioned way with hard work. I started by cutting my food intake and seeking out all the options I could to give me support during my journey.

  3. How did you overcome the fear of diagnosis to begin changing your habits?
    I dove right into exercising and finding ways to help me overcome the day-to-day challenges. I was dead set on not letting my weight take me away from the new life I had begun building for myself. 

  4. How have things changed since then?
    I eat more balanced meals, exercise each day and take my dog for a walk daily when the weather permits. I pay more attention to the type of food I buy. I am constantly finding new recipes that incorporate healthy food. It is not an easy job and, as of late, I have been taking more steps back, but I have not given up, which means I will succeed each day in some small manner.  

DEEA2Z Says Her Diabetes Diagnosis Saved Her Life

  1. How did you feel when your doctor told you about your health situation and what did they recommend?
    Both my dad and his brother had Type 2 diabetes, and I knew I was insulin resistant. Even though I knew the odds and had a good role model in my dad, I went along in my life thinking, "Someday I might get it, but I don't have symptoms, so I'm fine." It was with a heavy, sinking feeling that I received my diagnosis in 2015. My doctor prescribed Metformin, told me to lose weight and exercise. He gave me an authorization form to see a diabetes educator.

  2. How did you start making real life changes?
    After I came home from the doctor's office I joined SparkPeople and immediately started tracking my carbs and calories. I also began walking, though I couldn't walk for more than 10 minutes without stopping to catch my breath. Forget about walking up our street because we live at the bottom of a steep hill—my feet hurt, my hips hurt and I was breathless just walking down the driveway. My next purchase was a compact elliptical trainer that I placed in our bedroom and used daily, beginning with 10 minutes at a time. 
  4. How did you overcome the fear of diagnosis to begin changing your habits?
    That diagnosis saved my life! My dad started with oral medications, then had to be put on insulin. He had several toes amputated and suffered additional health problems. After he was diagnosed he was able to control it, but the damage had been done. I didn't want to go on insulin or suffer the way my dad suffered as he got older. The diagnosis was a wake-up call to become proactive. After I wallowed for a few days, I became bored with that and decided that I may have diabetes, but it wasn't going to have me. 

  5. How have things changed since then?
    I went through the diabetes education classes and learned exactly how to take control of my disease with the help of my health team. I lost 70 pounds, brought my A1C down and continued exercising regularly. Best of all, I found a new career path, and will become a certified health coach next year. I was 67 when I was diagnosed, so it is never too late to take a proactive stand and improve your health.

TEDDYBEAR662 is Finally Starting to Enjoy Life Again

  1. How did you feel when your doctor told you about your health situation and what did they recommend?
    First, I was sad because I knew the excess weight could lead to lots of other health problems. My mom had a stroke in her 50's after years of being overweight, and I didn't want the same thing to happen to me. I knew the doctor was right, of course, but I was upset, mad at myself for letting this happen and scared. More scared as in, "How do I do this?" My doctor said to start exercising and check out SparkPeople.
  3. How did you start making real life changes?
    Once I finally committed to making changes, I started going to the gym, working hard on tracking my food and began to see small changes, which motivated me to keep going.
  5. How did you overcome the fear of diagnosis to begin changing your habits?
    Honestly, I'm not sure if I have yet, but I'm getting there. I know the articles and the massive support from my SparkTeams help me keep going and be unafraid. It is a day-by-day choice, but with the support of other members (really strangers, if you think about it), I know each morning I can do it, or try again. 

  6. How have things changed since then?
    I didn't like me before, but now I'm starting to enjoy me again! I feel so much better walking up a flight of stairs or when I choose fruit over my beloved ice cream. Each day I make a better choice is a good one for me and my loved ones.

It's never too late to take steps to start improving your health. You can't change the mistakes of the past, but you have total control over what happens from this moment forward. Even small changes can add up to big results when done consistently, so what are you waiting for? It's time to stop thinking about it and start doing it!