The Ups And Downs Of A Weight Loss Story
Sandra Kloeber was tall, thin and active throughout high school, but an unhealthy relationship in her early 20’s changed her perception of food. She no longer ate because she was hungry, she ate because she was stressed. Or happy. Or for any reason, really.
“Once you get used to eating all the time, it gets progressively and steadily worse,” said Kloeber, who lives in Sugar Land. It didn’t help that she was living in New Orleans, a city known for rich cuisine and an immediate gratification lifestyle.
Sandra tried every diet out there – Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, the grapefruit diet, the soup diet, Nutri-system, and even weight loss pills. The diets worked, but once she lost the weight she went back to her old eating habits and eventually gained back more than she lost. Once, she lost 100 pounds and gained back 130.
“Instead of doing a lifestyle change I would lose the weight and think I could go back to the way I was before,” said Kloeber.
Eventually Kloeber, at 5 feet 10 inches tall, was 272 pounds and 40-years-old. She had sleep apnea, joint pain, back pain, a hyperthyroid condition and, most importantly to her, she was having a hard time being active with her two children, a 10-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son.
“I would run out of breath,” said Kloeber. “I would get less motivated because I was so big – and riding a bike when you are 280 pounds is not easy.”
For Kloeber – who had tried almost every diet available, and worked for a bariatric surgeon in New Orleans – surgery was a “no-brainer.”
A year ago, Kloeber got an adjustable gastric band, one of several surgical weight loss procedures available. Now she is four pounds away from her goal weight of 180 pounds.
But surgery isn’t a magic fix – once again, just as she realized with her other failed diets, a lifestyle change was required to maintain any weight loss.
“It’s an unusual operation because you are trying to induce change in behavior,” said Erik Wilson, Kloeber’s surgeon at The University of Texas Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery Center.
To increase his patients’ chances for success, Wilson encourages them to participate in an online program called Realize My Success that is associated with Kloeber’s procedure. The site is like “having a miniature Dr. Wilson on your shoulder,” said Wilson, who added that about 50 percent of his patients use the site, and those that do typically lose more weight.
The site includes recipes, chat rooms, personal stories of weight loss success and a food journaling tool.
The theory behind Realize My Success is not limited to those who are losing weight through surgery – the issues of support, accountability and knowledge can help in any weight loss program, especially when it comes to food journaling, said Wilson.
“I’m a big believer, having looked across all channels of healthcare and sports and whatever, that if you measure something and look at what you’re measuring, you make it better,” said Wilson. “Knowing the number in and of itself makes you want to improve it.”
The food journaling concept is not new – the Internet is home to countless sites with food journaling tools, such as MyFoodDiary.com, Nutrimirror.com, Fitday.com and my-calorie-counter.com. Most well-known weight loss programs, such as Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, also have food journaling tools on their websites.
“Food journaling helps, there’s no doubt about it,” said Wilson. “You don’t have to do it every day for the rest of your life, but if you do it two or three days a month you get a good sense of what you were eating.”
Kloeber admits that in the first few weeks after her surgery, she would “cheat” a little.
“Then I realized, ‘you know this isn’t worth it,’” said Kloeber. “It was also something that kind of held me to my responsibility. When you put it down and you see what you are actually eating and what you are supposed to and what you’re not supposed to it does make you accountable for what you’re doing.”
Kloeber, now 100 pounds lighter, bikes up to six miles a day, runs with her daughter and plays soccer with her son. She is sure that had she not lost the weight she was looking forward to a future of hypertension and possibly diabetes.
For those thousands of people who have started 2010 with the goal of finally conquering weight issues, by whatever method, Kloeber says the outcome is worth the struggle.
“I struggle every day,” said Kloeber. “Stick with it, the outcome is so worth it. It’s a struggle so just hang in there and get support. As long as you have support someone who is going to encourage you it makes all the difference.”