In early 2013 I came to the realization that I had ignored my health for way too long. At 56 years old I was living a sedentary life and at five-foot- eight-inches tall, and weighing 233 pounds, I was obviously obese… the mirror told me that every day. But it was a blood test that quantified how serious the situation was. My blood pressure was border-line high, my triglycerides were at 450, my cholesterol at 230, and for the first time in my life I was diagnosed as pre-diabetic. My blood-sugar level was bordering on diabetes and I was put on the diabetes medication Metformin. That did it!!! Talk about a wake-up call!!
I went to see Dr. Chhabra and I feel it was a decision that saved my life. Today I am still 56 years old but I now weigh 165 pounds! I am off the Metformin, by blood pressure and blood chemistry are back to normal and I have never felt so good or healthy. I lost 68 pounds, but I think I added 20 years to my life. Seven months later, I am managing my diet and exercise such that I am maintaining my weight within a few pounds of 165. I went from wearing pants with a size 46-inch waist, that always wedged themselves below my protruding belly, to wearing 34-waist Dockers that now cling to my hour-glass waist. Shopping for clothes has never been this much fun!!
Besides being an incredibly helpful and compassionate doctor herself, Dr. Chhabra’s office is staffed with caring and respectful people that made me feel comfortable and welcomed. Ellen and Gwen and Maria are just delightful professionals that made this journey pleasant… it was a joy visiting the office and seeing their smiling faces.
After a series of consultations and additional tests, Dr. Chhabra put me on a regimen that included meal replacements followed by a gradual re-introduction of normal foods. I started with 100% Optifast for the first 8 weeks. I found using Optifast easy and very helpful… and besides, I actually love the taste–but then, I never complain about airline food!
As a self-proclaimed “food addict” I found it helpful to completely divorce myself from all regular food. For me it was a form of detox. It is amazing how the hunger and cravings completely went away. For about two months, I drank 5 servings of Optifast a day… nothing else. I had lots of energy and did not feel any cravings. As a college administrator with lots of lunch meetings and dinner engagements, it was not easy but I settled into a routine where I either skipped the lunches or arrived and said I had just grabbed a bite to eat before… and I had, but it was not what they were thinking!
The first phase of the controlled transition back to food made it easy to blend back in. I used that one meal a day for any public events. I traveled to Europe and went to conferences and I used my one meal for those events that required me to attend functions that had food…. I just judiciously selected vegetarian and low calorie items of the menu.
I am now fully back to “normal” and having a great time. The most important aspect of my transition to maintenance was my commitment to logging every bite of food that enters my mouth. I am also committed to logging every minute of exercise.
I am convinced that as long as my caloric intake equals my caloric expenditures, I will never gain any weight. This is a physical reality and a scientific fact, and I find that reassuring. I use the week as my unit of measure for control. I might go slightly over my daily target on Saturday or Sunday but I make up for it the other days and as long as I break even by the end of each week, I can stay on track.
I describe myself as a real “techie” and so I was able to incorporate a series of hi-tech “tools” to make the process more fun. I have an iPhone and so I primarily rely on two apps to keep my weight under control. “Lose-It” is an easy to use food logging app and “Digi-Fit” is an exercise monitoring app. With Lose-It, I log every morsel of food, big or small. It calculates my budget based on my current weight. It has information for every fast food restaurant as well as every packaged food in the supermarket. I can even scan the bar-code from the packaging and it logs the food automatically.
For exercise, I use a Polar heart monitor with a wireless Bluetooth connection to my Digi-Fit app and it accurately estimates the real calorie expenditure during my exercise sessions.
My wife has always been an exercise fanatic, and now I have joined her. We bike and walk and go to the gym together. At the end of each session, Digi-Fit automatically sends my exercise session to my Lose-It app and it logs the calories of exercise. Seamlessly, hour by hour, the apps keep track of my intake and expenditure and I use that information to make informed decisions. Can I have that extra yogurt or do I need to exercise another 20 minutes to make up for the extra serving at lunch? Day by day, week by week, I keep all this in check.
In the end, I am in control and no longer a victim of mindless eating. I am at peace with my eating… and with my life.
All of this was possible because of the help, guidance, support and care that I received from Dr. Chhabra at the Institute for Weight Management. I looked forward to my visits to the office every two weeks and chatting with Dr. Chhabra. The positive reinforcement and encouragement I got from her and her staff made the difference between success and failure. I would strongly recommend a consultation with her. If you are in a situation like I was in, it could save your life!