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Personal Account #3

By: Kathy Williams

I did not think I was fat. Yes, I wore a tight size 16 but when I went to the mall there were a lot of other people there much larger than me. I could swim a mile or ride a bike for 50 miles. How could I be obese??

Then, my doctor found a mass under my left jaw. While the biopsy showed the mass was benign, I needed to have the tumor removed surgically. The morning of surgery, the anesthesia resident very tactfully told me I was at a higher risk of anesthesia complications because of my "body size." That was my first wake up call. I am a nurse and at the time worked in a coronary care unit. My first day back I was assigned to a very obese woman younger than me who had had a heart attack. Wake up call number 2!

I was familiar with the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Program. I had been in the program 2 years earlier but looking back – had not really acknowledged to myself that I had a problem. I had lost about 20 pounds and thought I had everything under control so I left. I promptly gained the 20 pounds back. The second time around, I asked for the most comprehensive and structured program they offered.

I became a member of Denise’s "Thursday morning group," I learned a great deal about myself, nutrition, exercise and also how to change through the power of that group. I learned also to ask others to help support my efforts. My nursing unit very frequently ordered food to be delivered for lunch because the demands of the job made it difficult to go the cafeteria for lunch. I explained to my co-workers that I needed to stick to having a bar or shake supplement and asked them to not ask me to "‘cheat just once," Once they got comfortable eating "normal food" with me savoring a high protein shake, my co-workers became some of my best supporters!

The exercise physiologist, Johanna Hoffman, taught me about weight training and doing weight-bearing aerobic exercises. Swimming and biking are great, but they were easy for me because the bike and the water were supporting my weight. Duh!!

Johanna suggested trying running. I thought she was kidding at first. She convinced me to run one minute then walk one minute for 30 minutes three times per week. At first, I could barely shuffle 30 seconds without stopping to catch my breath. I lost 45 pounds by changing my eating habits and exercise pattern. The last 8 to 10 were the hardest!

I have now completed 3 half marathons and one full marathon. I train through a Galloway program at the Fleet Feet store in Pikesville. My running group takes a minute walk break for every 2 minutes running. It is extremely doubtful I will ever qualify for the Boston Marathon, but running certainly helps boost my metabolism, greatly improves my total outlook on life and keeps me from needing to buy bigger clothes.

Speaking of clothes, I donated all my "big girl" clothes to Goodwill so if I do start to regain weight I have to acknowledge the weight gain by buying bigger clothes. Some other things I have done to keep me on the right track:

  • Shut off my cable
  • Always take the stairs (unless it's Friday–then I give myself a break)
  • Weigh myself every one or two weeks, just to keep tabs
  • If I start to gain, I go back to writing down a food log–it's amazing how much you can eat without realizing it!
  • Try to keep up on my weight-training (I need to work on this one)
  • Keep a before picture on my refrigerator
  • Remember my first wake up call the morning of my surgery

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