When you’re ready and with the right support, weight loss, maintenance, and weight gain can be totally achievable.
Part of my work is collaborating with The Healing Garden in Harvard, MA. The Healing Garden works with folks diagnosed with various forms of cancers and helping them to create an approach to their care that’s full of wellness.
I met Gabby in November, 2014, just after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She had surgery and was awaiting pathology for radiation. Gabby was trying to lose weight and knew part of her risk moving forward in terms of a recurrence was linked to her health.
One piece that stood out about Gabby was her diligence in growing all of her own vegetables and freezing them for winter months. She was also motivated with the support of her husband. Gabby had a difficult long distance relationship with her Mom that was hard to overcome at times and affected her self- esteem, but she was working on these pieces with her therapist and me. This is her story:
“All my life I have struggled with weight. My adult weight has been everywhere between 132 and 190 pounds. Every time my weight went too high I made an effort to lose weight. I have lost and “found” 20 pounds or more many times. In the fall of 2014 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had surgery followed by radiation. I feel very lucky to have been cured. After the surgeon, radiologist, and oncologist did their work, I decided I needed to do my part in keeping me healthy.
Now that I have been given a second chance at life, I do not want to waste it. I have learned that being overweight is a risk factor for cancer and that people who have a normal BMI have a lower incidence of recurrence. Although I cannot change my genes nor past history, I can control what I eat and how much I move. This mindset makes me feel empowered to make good choices for myself.
In the past I used to feel that I was eating healthy; I was cooking and baking from scratch, eating whole grains, fruits and vegetables, etc., but I needed some fine-tuning. I did not control my portions and was eating too many added sugars. Now I follow the rule that half of my plate should be fruits and vegetables. I keep a journal of my intake of food and water. I have a loose plan of what I eat each day of the week so I have eliminated the stress of deciding what to make for every meal of each day. I also have a loose plan for the activities I do.
My weight has been going down slowly, but steadily. I have lost 36 lbs so far and would like to lose a few more to reach a normal BMI.
I feel very good and happy about my current health and weight.
I try to follow advice to keep active. To the activities I used to do before, I have added yoga several days a week. I had to cut a few volunteering activities to free up some time and give me the flexibility to take better care of myself.”
Nick was referred to me by his Mom as I had done some nutrition seminars for her company. He was a retired high school football player who had anticipated playing in college and then ran into several injuries and a change in his first choice in the next step of his education. He was diligent with his exercise but needed some fine tuning in the nutrition department after gaining some weight following a decrease in intense training for regular season play. I started working with Nick in January, 2015. Nick’s story is below:
“Going into high school, I was 6’2″ and weighed 140 pounds. As an athlete the goal was always to gain weight. My two sports being hockey, and football, I was tall, but very weak and frail. I dedicated myself to the weight room and to eating as much as possible.
At first the weight gain came slowly. But by the time I was a Junior, I was 215 pounds. At this time I was put on medication that actually had a side effect of weight gain. Most people would have stopped using the medication but I viewed it as an opportunity to put on more size as my goal was to play college football. After I committed to university for football at the beginning of my senior year, I maintained my weight around 240 pounds.
Throughout high school I ignored any injuries I had sustained during sports. When I finally went in for MRI’s as my senior year came to a close, there was a substantial amount of damage in all four of major joints: both hips and both shoulders. With this news, the dream of playing college football was put off the table.
After my first two surgeries, I began to regret gaining all the weight for football. I contacted Robyn, and we began to strategize a nutritional plan. I began my weight loss at 260 pounds, and over 6 months I am down to 213 pounds. I always thought nutrition was impossible to manage, until Robyn put me on a plan that broke it down for me.
Any athlete or good employee can follow directions, and that’s just what Robyn gave me: directions to lose weight and become more nutritionally aware. While going through this transformation I was only able to exercise minimally, my upper and lower body have been shut down for over 15 months.
It just went to show me that nutrition truly is the key. I used to workout 5 days a week 2 and half hours each workout, but because my nutrition was just okay I did not see results like I would have hoped. This year I lost 47 pounds while having 5 surgeries, and I give the credit to Robyn. Robyn has helped me tremendously and I continue to meet with her to try improving my nutrition and overall wellness.”
An update on Nick’s progress is that he has now reached his goal weight and lost a total of 50 pounds!
Elle and I met after she was referred to me by her therapist in January, 2014. She also had a primary care clinician on board and had been recently diagnosed with anorexia; the spring before she took a leave from school for inpatient and intensive outpatient treatment. She has the support of her family and was extremely motivated. As we continued to work together into her recovery she experienced a relapse of her eating disorder. Below is Elle’s story in her own words:
“Three years ago I was diagnosed with Anorexia and had to take a medical leave from college to be hospitalized and follow various programs in order to regain my health. I started working with Robyn two years ago, when I returned to college after finishing my first round of treatment. Over the past two years of working with Robyn, I was able to create balance in my life and continue strong on my path to recovery. Robyn has been with me every step of the way. I learned to practice self-care and recognize my strengths and weaknesses.
Unfortunately, recovery from an eating disorder is not a linear process. These past several months, I evaluated my health and decided it was an ideal time to resume treatment and achieve greater health.
For this reason, I took my second medical leave and returned to program for several months. Had it not been for Robyn’s support and encouragement, I may never have taken this step. During these months with Robyn, I not only learned to feel all my emotions, but I also recreated a new identity for myself. The more I distance myself from my Anorexia, the more I develop a strong voice of my own. Today, I have achieved a healthy weight and mindset and feel more proud and happy than I have ever been. I have reached a point in my recovery where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Robyn is one of the candles guiding me to the end.”
All of our journeys toward weight loss, weight gain, or weight maintenance matter.
Even clients who are looking to lose weight often battle with disordered eating or troubled thoughts related to their body image and where they ‘should’ be in terms of their BMI and ideal body weight. Weight gain also requires careful diligence and commitment often with a team of support. While distorted thoughts about body image and weight might never fully go away, they can be tempered and improved with commitment.
If you or a friend or family member are looking for support on your weight loss, gain, or maintenance journey contact me for more information and to set up a meeting and a plan to move forward.
Please note all of the above clients’ names have been changed to protect their privacy.