New mindset helps patient’s weight loss
It was a playful ride down an inflatable slide that turned Michelle Walker’s life around.
“We were at a kid’s birthday party, and as I slid down with my daughter, my leg got twisted in the slide and got stuck,” she recalls. “I weighed 311 lbs., and I ended up breaking my ankle.”
But it wasn’t just her ankle that was hurt.
“Seeing myself on video with my kids like that – they were embarrassed, and I couldn’t get up. It wasn’t a good sight. I realized I had to do something different,” she says.
“Michelle was referred to me by her ob/gyn a couple of years ago because she wanted to lose weight,” Dr. Vasudevan says. “I told her then that it had to be a long-term goal.”
Working together, Dr. Vasudevan met with Walker to make lifestyle changes that involved food patterns, drinking plenty of water, and impacting her whole family—healthy eating for all four children. Using an elliptical rider, or a treadmill, 10 minutes a day, Walker quickly shed the weight.
“In the first six months, I dropped 65 lbs. I worked out every day, and I had to do it. I lost 100 lbs. in the first year and went from a size 26 to a size 14,” Walker says.
Dr. Vasudevan also evaluated and treated Walker’s thyroid, which was “a borderline case.”
“Other doctors wouldn’t listen to me—she did. She said I was on the border of being insulin resistant, so I went on medication to treat it and also had thyroid medication,” Walker says.
In addition to the weight and dress size decreases, her vital signs also improved. “My BMI dropped, my blood pressure was a healthy 90 over 74, my heart rate was 72—it was amazing. And I kept it off for five years,” she explains.
The secret, Walker says, is balancing intake with outtake.
“If I eat lavishly, I work out more. I didn’t starve myself, or count calories or fat,” Walker says.
Having tried low-carb diets, high-protein diets, Weight Watchers, and Jenny Craig, Walker says Dr. Vasudevan helped her find a new mindset. “If you don’t exercise, you won’t lose it. Be accountable at the end of the day for what you eat,” she says.
Walker says she has referred friends to Dr. Vasudevan.
“Other doctors said, ‘You’re just fat.’ Dr. Vasudevan had me keep a food diary, and she could see it wasn’t just what I was eating. She treated me and helped me see what I needed to do. Kudos to the doctor for treating in the gray area—not just seeing things as black or white.”
Dr. Vasudevan says it is up to the patient to keep up with the hard work of weight loss.
“I work with my patients who are borderline to get them where they need to be,” Dr. Vasudevan says.
And the work has benefitted Walker’s entire family.
“With less weight, my knees don’t hurt, and I can run with my four kids (ages 8, 10, 13, and 15), and fit in the rides at the amusement parks with them,” Walker adds.
But Walker’s weight loss goal is still in sight. “It’s important for me to keep active.”
—Darla Brown, Office of Communications, Medical School
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