What Is Your Eating Plan?

That’s the third question I get asked, after “how did you lose all that weight?” and “what are you doing for exercise?”

Meet Marylou Van Hintum, RN

Mary Lou
(photo used with permission from Marylou Van Hintum, RN)

She’s the Director of Nursing at the Carient Center for Cardio-Metabolic Health & Weight Loss (http://www.carient.com/carient-center-for-cardio-metabolic-health-weight-loss). You can see her at Carient’s Manassas or Haymarket offices.

My cardiologist, Dr. Merdod Ghafouri, had been counseling me each time I came in for a checkup to lose weight. Each time, I had failed. In 2012, he said his practice had a new weight loss support program for their patients and I jumped at the chance. I had just tried and failed at the latest diet – some expensive powdered cookies-and-cream flavored shakes and aloe liquid that came in the mail. Left on my own, I was making terrible decisions about my health. I met with his colleague, Dr. Eric Thorn, had some blood taken for lab analysis, and began meeting regularly with Marylou.

From the first meeting I learned I had the metabolic age of 90 and a body mass index (BMI) of 40.5. Wow. I was given a “nutrition rehabilitation plan” aimed at removing unnecessary and unnatural foods from my life. And it was low-carb. I know what that meant. For a compulsive eater, that meant no more binging on honey buns and Reese’s peanut butter cups. No more trips to Nathan’s Ice Cream Bar for the flavor of the day. No more night time kitchen raids of entire boxes of Triscuits or Wheat Thins. No more Tony’s Pizza or whatever the takeout meal because we were too tired to cook. This was going to hurt. It’s one thing to say you intend to do it; it’s another thing to actually do it. When you’re addicted to the sugar and wheat, you’ve got to have it, just as much as the nicotine addict needs that next cigarette.

The plan spelled out exactly what I could eat, and what I couldn’t eat, all to keep my intake of food at 20 grams of carbohydrates per day. Medical supervision meant I checked in with Marylou at regular intervals. She would weigh me, measure my waist, take my blood pressure and pulse, and help me with any trouble spots. There is a monthly support group with other patients working the same program. I’m already a Carient patient, but you don’t have to be one already to participate – anyone can ask to enroll in the program.

I lost 73 pounds and have maintained the loss for more than a year. I shop differently – with a list, around the perimeter of the grocery store, and rarely fill the cart. The conveyor belt at checkout has fresh vegetables, meat and healthy oils on it. Anything not on the plan is not in my kitchen or pantry (my husband keeps his treats in a different place). There are other aspects of the program that Dr. Thorn uses to help me in addressing the compulsion to overeat, and I have been monitored for sleep apnea.

I still have 60 pounds to go, and I’ve been at a plateau for months. Where I’ve stalled is, I just couldn’t do without bread or cereal. Every few days, late at night, I would cut a few slices of homemade wheat bread or pour a bowl of Grapenuts. That, of course, would sabotage my efforts to lose more weight. Marylou would encourage me to stop baking the bread for my husband, and add more healthy fat in my diet to ward off the food cravings, but I just didn’t trust what she was saying. My brain was telling me I was going to STARVE if I didn’t get BREAD. Every few days, I’d succumb to the same message. It was a rut in the track that I couldn’t record over.

Finally, in desperation, I told myself I was not going to eat any more bread or cereal. I was tired of the scale never going below 241.

So I did it. I went without bread or cereal for one week. I really thought after the first three days that I was going to die. That’s what my brain told me. I was walking the dog and my stomach hurt, my head hurt, my chest hurt, I felt weak, and I thought, “well, crap, here I am, I’m going to keel over while walking the dog and I don’t even have an ID or phone on me. They’re going to have to read the dog tag to figure out who I am to be able to tell my husband that I’m dead.” I knew emotionally that I was being a big BABY. But physically, I was going through the same strong withdrawal symptoms of a drug addict. That’s what the wheat and sugar had done to my body. As soon as I got through that day, and the next, and the next, I felt better. Two days later, I’d broken through the plateau. My home scale said I was at 240 pounds. I have since lost down to 238, and I haven’t eaten bread or cereal since.

Low-carb may not be the way for others, but for the first time in my life, I have been able to lose weight and keep it off longer than a year. And now, here I go, losing even more weight.

I actually hugged Dr. Ghafouri the next time I saw him for suggesting this program. It has revolutionized my life. I haven’t weighed this light in 30 years. The last time I saw Marylou, she hugged me. My body mass index is now 33.7 and my metabolic age is 65. I used to hate to go to the doctor because I felt like such a failure. Now that I’m succeeding at getting healthy and working in partnership with medical professionals, I find I am more apt to call and make an appointment when something is going on, instead of waiting. My health is better as a result.

Well, this is my third and last post on this subject for a while. So the next person who asks me, “how did you lose all that weight?” I’m going to tell them to read these three blog posts. Losing weight is not about dieting. It’s about finding out why you overeat in the first place, and then finding an eating plan and an exercise plan that will work for you. I found that with Overeaters Anonymous, Nina Lomax’s Body Conscience Fitness Consulting and Personal Training and the Carient Center for Cardio-Metabolic Health & Weight Loss. That’s what works for me.

Thanks for listening.

(If you want to hear more, here’s cardiologist Dr. Eric Thorn and registered nurse Marylou Van Hintum on Episode 111 of “Low-Carb Conversations with Jimmy Moore & Friends!” http://www.lowcarbconversations.com/1805/111-dr-eric-thorn-marylou-van-hintum-examine-saturated-fat-heart-disease/)


One thought on “What Is Your Eating Plan?

Add yours

  1. Cindy, I love Dr Ghafouri! He is my cardiologist and has been a life and sanity saver. Am so glad that you’re dealing with Dr. Thorn. I understand he is fabulous. What a great blog! Thank you for sharing that.

    Belinda Miller, Author The Phillip’s Quest Series and The Ragwort Chronicles

    “Follow your heart”


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