Barb Baker is a recent graduate of Mary Free Bed’s initial Weight Management program, Foundation, and is continuing her journey with Stride for continued support and education. In this Q&A, Barb shares why she chose to participate in the program and the affect it’s had on her health. Not only has Barb lost more than 45 pounds, she no longer needs a double-knee replacement.
Why did you join the Weight Management program?
I’ve been overweight since I was about 36 years old, after the birth of my son. I hated being overweight but felt like I couldn’t do anything about it. I was so busy raising two children, working full time and working toward my Ph.D., all while being diagnosed with clinical depression. I was treated by a team of doctors and other professionals for 30 years, but it persisted.
More than a year ago, I was put on a new medication that really seemed to work for my depression, and I started to feel like I wanted to take better care of myself. That’s when I decided to get serious and get healthier. I wanted a weight management program that was interdisciplinary. I really needed help from professionals in different areas. I’m close to retirement age, and I didn’t want to spend my retirement unable to move or walk. I had a lot of knee pain, which made everything worse.
I started the Mary Free Bed Weight Management program, but soon developed serious side effects from the medication helping my depression. I got really scared, but the team was able to help me stay on track with the program while I was going down on the medication. The program has been successful for me, and I’m also now off that medication.
What were some of the most helpful things you learned?
- The mantra “Progress not Perfection.”
- To plan ahead! This is big for me. I’m someone who gets up in just enough time to get to work. If I don’t plan ahead, I grab a bagel with my coffee for breakfast and a sandwich and chips for lunch. Now I make enough overnight oats for the week on Sunday and grab one every morning. I also make sure I have healthy lunch and snack options available. I think this has made the biggest difference for me.
- Everyone is on their own individual journey. Don’t worry about what others are doing or not doing for their health. Just worry about your own journey and how to make it better.
What new habits have you formed?
- I feel like I have a good start on learning how to eat healthy.
- I learned to eat only when I’m hungry and to recognize when I’m really not hungry and just eating for some other reason.
- I don’t feel like this is a habit yet, but I feel much more positive about moving in general. I didn’t used to like to walk, but now I’m doing it more and have realized it’s so much easier since I’ve lost weight. I’m actually starting to enjoy it more. I’m also able to ride a stationary bike longer and at a greater intensity. I just feel stronger.
How has your health been impacted?
One value I’ve recently started measuring again is my heart rate. The change in my heart rate is exciting to me! Before the program, my heart rate on my Fitbit or at doctor’s appointments was always 106-110. When I recently began wearing my Fitbit again, I was shocked to see that my resting heart rate is now 72 consistently. That’s a huge and very positive change.
At a recent visit with my doctor, my blood pressure was improved and my A1C (a test that measures blood sugars) went from 5.8 to 5.4. I didn’t think that sounded like much, but he said it went from prediabetic to normal.
Would you recommend this program?
Yes, definitely! But I also say it’s not a magic program. It doesn’t work by just paying the fee and coming to class. You need to be in a space where you are ready to make a change and make the hard changes.
The support of a whole team of professionals is what has made the difference, as well as being held accountable every week.
I also really like that the program is not over after Foundation and continues with Stride. The philosophy is, it’s a continual process to learn how to take better care of yourself, and it really takes a long time to build new habits. We can all use support along the way.
Mary Free Bed’s next Weight Management classes are 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays beginning March 10 (deadline to join this session is March 20) and 4-5 p.m. Wednesdays beginning at the end of April or early May. For more information or to register, email email@example.com.