Anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight knows that losing the weight is only part of the battle. Keeping it off comes next, and that can be even tougher.
After years of struggling with her weight, Debbie Deters joined Sarah Bush Lincoln’s Weight Management program in March 2013 after having an eye-opening experience while working with an interior design client. “We were standing in front of a mirror in this room and I saw myself standing next to her, and it shocked me because I was probably three times her size, maybe four.”
That compounded the news she had received from her doctor not long before: blood work that had previously been normal was approaching unhealthy ranges. Debbie spoke to her husband, Family Practice Physician Greg Deters, MD, about her concerns, and he recommended HMR’s Decision-Free weight loss program. HMR (or Health Management Resources) is the nation’s leading provider of weight management treatment services to hospitals.
Debbie said something “just clicked” when she joined. She lost 100 pounds and has kept it off for more than five years. “I feel like a new woman. My life is totally different now,” she said. “It’s so startling to look at old photos, because I do not look like the same person.” In fact, several friends didn’t recognize her at a wedding that she attended after her weight loss.
After a thorough medical evaluation in 2013, Debbie joined one of Sarah Bush Lincoln’s first HMR weight management classes. The Decision-Free plan uses HMR’s nutritionally complete weight-loss shakes, plus prepared entrées, in place of store-bought food, making the plan easy to follow. “I liked the fact that the program was decision-free. I needed that in my life,” she said. She also liked that “it’s more of a natural way to lose weight; there’s no surgical procedure or anything like that,” she said.
Reflecting on how she felt when she started, Debbie said, “I just wanted to get the weight off and feel better. I was feeling miserable because none of my clothes fit right and I was nearing a size 22.” Weekly weigh-ins and classes for support and education have been crucial to her success, she said. After losing about 75 pounds in seven months, Debbie felt confident enough to start exercising with a trainer at the YMCA. “I didn’t exercise at all before, so the stronger I became, the more fit I felt,” she said.
Debbie credits SBL Medical Weight Management Director Kristina Adams Smith for being an integral part of her weight-loss journey. “In the maintenance phase, I felt myself creeping up a little bit, so I had a few one-on-one sessions with Kristina that really helped,” she said. “I feel good that I’ve kept the weight off, and I’ve been diligent about making sure I don’t gain it back,” she said.
Debbie also credits her husband for providing much-needed support, including eating mostly Schwan’s frozen food while she was eating HMS weight-loss shakes and entrées, so she could stick to the program! “We still joke about that to this day,” she said.
Debbie has learned that the keys to her success are eating in moderation, exercising regularly and remaining committed to healthy eating after eating treats. “I strayed from the program a few times, but then I got right back on it. Before, if I had blown my diet at a party, I would say ‘Oh well’ and just keep eating. Now I enjoy a meal out and get right back on the plan the next day, so I’m always cognizant of it. I focus on good carbs verses bad carbs,” she said.
Debbie’s energy level has skyrocketed, as her weight has fallen. “I’m much more energetic now, and I’ve learned the power of positive thinking. It makes a huge difference,” she said. Debbie has more energy to care for her dogs, and she has even trained her Maltese, Pixie, to be a therapy dog. Debbie and Pixie visit residents at area nursing homes every month-- and Pixie even has her own Facebook page! “I would have never done that had I not lost the weight,” she said.
Debbie and her husband also became foster parents for the American Maltese Rescue Association last year, but they ended up adopting the first dog they fostered. “We’re working on getting him ready to be a therapy dog, too,” she said.
Debbie’s interior design and real estate staging business has blossomed with her newfound energy. While she eats store-bought food most of the time, she relies on HMR entrées and shakes when she travels for work. “Some people treat the program as a diet and then go back to their old habits,” she said. “I learned to appreciate eating carrots with hummus as much as ice cream.”
“One of the greatest thrills ever was going from ‘the big ladies department’ to shopping in the regular store; that was a big change for me. I feel like I fit in now instead of stand out,” she said. “I’m forever grateful for the program because it changed my life.”
For more information about HMR, call SBL Weight Management Services at 217-238-4774 or go to www.sarahbush.org.