I started Physician’s Plan because at 318 pounds and 50 years old, my health was starting to fail. My bones and joints ached all the time, particularly after a 12-hour nursing shift. I had to take the elevator because my knees couldn’t take the stairs carrying all that extra weight and I would become winded and sweaty from very little exertion. I was always bloated because my diet consisted of a lot of salty, fatty foods and I was eating at least three times the calories I should have been. I didn’t like the way that I looked in or out of clothes and it made me feel self-conscious. Airline travel was awful, as I would spill out into the seat(s) next to me and could barely get the seatbelt buckled. My 3XL shirts were becoming too tight and I was facing having to go to a 4XL size, as if 3XL wasn’t depressing enough! I had to take combination blood pressure medication and diuretic just to keep my BP low enough that I wasn’t at risk for a heart attack or stroke. To top it off, my second marriage had just ended in divorce. It was time to get busy living or keep going down the path to an early demise. The reason I chose Physician’s Plan was ‘the plan’ that they advertise. No gimmicks, just real food in the proper quantities of macronutrients and calories tailored to each individual.

The biggest challenge for me, at first, was the grocery store. The first time I went shopping for groceries, it took me nearly three hours! You really have no idea how many foods are loaded with sugar until you start reading labels! I had to rethink everything, retrain the way I shopped, so that I could eat correctly and have the results that I got. At the onset, I gave up artificial sweeteners, bread, red meat, dairy, fruit (except berries), alcohol and sugar. Sugar was by far the hardest, not because I ate a lot of sweets, but because it’s in everything! Milk and cream were a huge part of my life before starting, but I easily switched to almond milk and now prefer the taste over cow’s milk. Another huge challenge for me was drinking enough water to keep my kidneys doing their job so that my liver could focus on metabolism instead of waste removal. As a nurse, it’s not always easy to get to the restroom. We have water-drinking contests at work now and keep track of everyone’s progress on a dry erase board. I adapted by going more frequently so that I wouldn’t be stuck in patient care with a full bladder. Despite being an RN, I did not enjoy giving myself the injections at all, so I supplement vitamins by mouth instead. I take high-quality Vit-A, Vit-B complex (mega), Vit-C, Vit-D, Vit-E, Omega-3, Iron, Choline and Inositol. I supplement fiber (six psyllium husk capsules) three times daily to aid in digestion, elimination and to improve my lipid profile, which is now excellent. I spend 15 minutes once a week to put all of these into a seven-day pillbox, which has four compartments per day. I also have a one-day pillbox, which I use when I go to work. Also, on days that I work, I made sure that I had enough food to continue eating six times a day by waking up a little earlier and packing an insulated lunch tote.

The appetite suppressant that the doctor prescribes is a game-changer. People who are overweight, like I was, need this medication just as much as a smoker needs help to quit smoking.

The skilled nutrition counselors that meet with you, frequently at first and then whenever you need, are an amazing resource. They are also amazing cheerleaders for your successes and really help keep you on the right path with weekly weigh-ins. Sometimes you may find that you really mesh well with a certain one – it’s totally OK to politely say “would it be alright if I waited for Tara to be available?” It’s your journey…make the most of it! Shout outs to Tara, Summer and more recently, Bella! Thank you all!

Another service that Physician’s Plan offers that helped me the most was Chelsea Orellana, my medical esthetician. I was a competitive swimmer in my youth and practiced twice daily, outdoors, from age 8 until 17. I sustained a lot of sun damage and my face and particularly my forehead were leathery and wrinkled because of it. Every four to six weeks I go in and she treats me to an amazing facial. She’s completely reversed all that damage, my skin is baby soft, and I feel like I look years younger! She also works on my back, so I’m there for about two hours. Our personalities are a total match, so we have some wonderful conversations. I consider her a dear friend.

Hands down the best part was the day I crossed the 100lbs mark and the girls took these photos with me to celebrate.