I’m moving again and it feels like a completely new life

Sue Wolkins, Patient

My life seemed to be shrinking before my eyes. With excruciating pain in my knee, I was finding it difficult to do the most common of tasks without extreme discomfort. Even a trip to the grocery story meant the use of a motorized scooter. And, as my mobility decreased, my struggle with my weight increased. It was like one issue fed the other.

If not surprising, the prognosis from the doctor was a double whammy, too. He said that I needed to have a total knee replacement with the stipulation that I needed to lose weight before that surgery could take place. I had the option to lose weight the conventional way or to undergo bariatric surgery. After some deliberation, I opted against bariatric surgery as my first step and asked my family physician for a referral to Bronson Bariatric & Metabolic Specialists. I decided to enter their non-surgical weight management program.

As my first appointment loomed, I found myself quite nervous. I knew a big change was necessary, but felt doubtful that this experience would be any different than my previous attempts to lose weight. However, my first meeting with the bariatrician went very well and I left feeling encouraged.

Pictured: Sue Wolkins, center, with dietitian, Randi Klop, left and Jaclyn Martinez, PA-C, right.

It was suggested that I would be a good candidate for their Path to Success program. Path to Success is a 12-week program that is separated into three phases. During the first four week phase, my diet was restricted to supplements and meal replacements. The following four weeks starts with the supplements and then they would gradually add food back into my diet. The final four weeks is focused back on grocery-based eating without supplements. The entire plan is set up around helping patients lose weight while breaking old habits and teaching new, healthy eating and shopping patterns.

I really struggled with the first phase. I admit I found it difficult to give up real food. The shakes and supplements were fine, but I felt lost without all of the “happy” feelings of comfort that came along with the food I ate. I guess that’s part of the plan, giving up the old, bad habits and learning new ones. It certainly helped to see the doctor and dietitian on a weekly basis. While the plan is solid, I can’t imagine the struggle I would have had without the support of the team at the practice. The unwavering support I felt from them, combined with support at home, kept me going during those first hard days and weeks. Randi Klop, my dietitian, has so much pep and continually motivated me. She was my biggest cheerleader. I won’t lie; the pain in my knee was a great motivator, too.

I lost hardly any weight during my supplement-only phase, but I knew I was setting the stage. The real turn around started when food was reintroduced into my diet. And, while I was never so ready to see real food, I was secretly worried I’d just start gaining weight again. I continued with two shakes a day for breakfast and lunch, but began preparing my own meals for dinner. My worry was short-lived as I found myself feeling fortified with a new toolbox of cooking and eating skills. The meal plans that were provided to me by the dietitians really helped. It was a revelation to realize that healthy food could be flavorful and satisfying, too!

One of the biggest surprises was when I found out I didn’t have to starve myself to lose weight. I learned that it wasn’t about deprivation. Once through the transition to real food, I started eating three meals a day along with two snacks. It’s still seems like a lot of food, but its thoughtful eating. For the first time in a long time, I feel in control of what I’m eating instead of the other way around.

So far I have lost nearly 60 pounds and just feel so much better overall. My blood sugar has been wonderful and I’m now off of one of my diabetic medications. My motivation just seems to keep growing as I keep shrinking. The continued weight loss is such a huge motivator. I had one point where I plateaued but Erika Ford, another dietitian at the practice, talked me through it, explaining that it was a pretty normal process that happens to most people who are losing weight.

I have a scheduled appointment with Jaclyn Martinez, NP, every eight weeks that helps to keep me accountable, too. I could have moved that out to 12 weeks but, for now, decided it was best to see her on a more regular basis. I’ve made so much progress; I want to make sure I don’t backtrack.

I’ve found a new way of life thanks to the team at Bronson Bariatric & Metabolic Specialists. I have a goal weight in mind and am well on the way to reach it. Eighteen months ago I never would have thought I could be where I am today. I love that I’m now being hounded by those around me to buy new clothes because the clothes I’m wearing are way too big!

Finally, what’s the update on my knee? I’m now up on my own two feet and walking again, without the need for surgery! I can’t thank the team at Bronson Bariatric & Metabolic Specialists enough for making this incredible transformation possible.

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