Update – We checked back in with Janis two years later to see how she was doing with her weight loss. Read that story here.
Weight loss isn’t easy; it’s hard work. No one knows this better than Janis Kemper, physical therapist and co-owner of NPT, who recently lost eighty pounds! We asked Janis some questions about what motivated her to take the proper steps to lose the weight and what she would recommend to others wishing to do the same.
What initially made you decide to change your lifestyle?
My health was declining. I had high blood pressure (requiring two medications to control), borderline Type II Diabetes, Fatty Liver Disease, and Sleep Apnea. My husband and kids told me they were worried about my health and I decided that I wanted to see my future grandchildren grow up. Making the decision was the toughest part!
What did you do to lose the weight?
I talked to my doctor who agreed that I needed to change my lifestyle. He recommended that I see a physician who specializes in Weight Loss Management. There are many tools available to people wanting to lose weight. My doctor and I decided I should try the VLCD (very low calorie diet). Essentially, for five months I ate between 800-900 calories per day. This was done with “product food” to ensure the proper balance between protein, carbs, and fat. To be on a diet with so few calories required weekly physician visits and bi-weekly blood work. The other components of the program are exercise (60 minutes per day at least five days per week) and weekly attendance to a support group. The support group was educational and led by nutritionists, behaviorists, and exercise physiologists. After the five month period there was a five-week transition back to regular food and a calorie intake of about 1200 calories per day.
How much weight have you lost?
I’m so proud of my success! I was able to lose and keep off 80 lbs. I was a size 18/20 and now I am a size 10.
What was the hardest part of your journey?
I always thought, “If I could just lose the weight, then I will be good.” Well that isn’t true. I have come to realize that maintaining my weight and changing my lifestyle has proven my biggest challenge. I have accepted the fact that I use food as a coping mechanism. Similar to an alcoholic, a drug user, a gambler, etc., I use food. When I’m happy I like to celebrate with food and drink, when I’m stressed I use chocolate to cope, the list goes on and on. I have the disease of obesity but right now I am managing it well.
What kept you motivated throughout the process?
There were days that I would have a pity party for myself. I would ask, “Why do I have to spend two hours a day to maintain my weight and be healthy?” and “Why do I have to think about every morsel I put in my mouth?” Then I realized how fortunate I was to be able to exercise, and eat healthily. I chose to focus on the positives of the weight loss like being able to wear regular size clothing and not plus-sized, being active without getting out of breath, and not having to take any obesity related medications (my blood pressure is now normal, I no longer have a fatty liver, I no longer have sleep apnea, and I have normal blood sugar levels). I think that there are many things that keep me going including a very supportive husband who motivates me, attending support group regularly, and awesome co-workers who challenge me to stay fit!
What advice would you give to others who may be thinking about changing their lifestyle?
Make the decision and then do it. Don’t attempt to do it alone, get help. The program I went through was Grand Health Partners. It was so motivating, that we decided to launch a personal fitness training program at Northern. We have certified and licensed Athletic Trainers who are equipped to work one on one with people who want to lose weight and live a healthier lifestyle. The program will launch this month! Contact one of our clinics to get more information.
What would you say to those who are in the process of losing weight, but are struggling with reaching their goal?
Find support! Challenge yourself with a new workout video, class or routine. Try keeping a food journal and see if extra calories might be sneaking in. Eat protein at every meal, and eat six small meals a day. Use a smaller dinner plate. Weigh and measure your food – it’s surprising how 4 ounces creeps up to 6 ounces! Educate yourself on how to cook healthy. NPT is hosting a healthy cooking seminar at our Wayland location on January 16th from 6:00-7:00pm. It’s free and you can register at www.northernpts.com/rsvp.
For the first time in decades, obesity rates in America are on the decline. Recent government data showed that obesity among U.S. adults is continuing to level off after several decades of skyrocketing growth. Researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but it’s likely due to awareness and better information. Although this is good news, 34.9% of Americans in 2012 were still obese. Medical professionals all agree: sustaining a healthier weight is critical to improving blood sugar, blood pressure, and lipid control levels as well as gaining better mobility and improved moods. I’m living proof that you can lose weight and achieve a healthier lifestyle. More and more people are making the choice to not allow the disease of obesity to control their health and happiness, and with the right tools you can be one of them!