Over the years I have learned from the best of the best – the pioneers in the field of obesity medicine – those who are driven by an intense passion to make a difference for all those who are affected by obesity.
The other best of the best are my patients. I have been honored to learn much from hundreds of patients about the triumphs and challenges on the journey towards better health.
I have learned the most about obesity by hearing my patient’s stories of what it’s like to live with the effects of excess weight. I share the science of these effects with my patients; they teach me what it’s like to live with them.
My nationwide obesity medicine colleagues and I gather twice a year at national conferences and we keep connected in between. It’s an exciting time to be in this field. We are learning so much and gaining impressive momentum in helping people lose weight, maintain their loss, and get diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure under control as a result.
I love being part of this group of talented, passionate obesity leaders who are dedicated to learning all there is to know about obesity and health.
And I’m honored to have been named a fellow of the Obesity Medicine Association. This is one of the highest honors, reserved for those who demonstrate dedication and commitment to the clinical treatment of obesity and obesity-related diseases. (see more by clicking on my full credentials)
My Story Begins
A few days after my thirtieth birthday I was told I had cancer. As I lay in the hospital bed prior to surgery, scared and wondering if I’d live to see my three small children grow up, I vowed to myself that I would make my health my top priority. I never wanted to end up back in that bed again. That was the day that I began my whole-hearted journey of healthy living.
Five years later, with my health restored and a passion to inspire others to live healthfully, I returned to school to become a nurse practitioner.
After graduation I went to work in a women’s health clinic. It was exciting to put my vision and knowledge into action.
After we had dealt with their health concerns, some would bravely ask if I had any suggestions about how they could lose weight. I realized that despite my excellent education, I had never been taught anything about this important health issue.
“Eat less, move more,” I recited, not knowing any better. “It’s about burning more calories than you consume.”
They looked back at me with a frustration in their eyes that said, “You just don’t get it.” The gap between what they needed and what I had to offer was enormous.
Finding My Way
Feeling frustrated and unhappy with the setting I was working in, I searched for a new job. When I read the job ad I knew that it was perfect for me. From the moment I set foot in the door I knew I’d found my home.
Here was a well-rounded, scientifically-based, compassionate approach to weight management. As I learned the various interconnections among health issues and emotions and weight from my mentor, things began to make more sense. I was better able to understand what was really going on, both metabolically and emotionally for each person.
As my knowledge accumulated, so did my appreciation for the complexities involved.
“You will find that some patients cry, especially during the first visit. It’s a good sign. It means we’ve touched on something important, ” he explained. “We want to honor it and learn from it.”
His gentle, caring ways fostered a respect for the power of emotion that lives on in me today.
After the retirement of my mentor and a program that drifted from its original ideals, I set off to create something truly healing. Designed to inspire health, the warm, soft colored walls hug the room, highlighting the soothing fountain, abundant plants, and beautiful pieces of art.
It is a place for people to begin their journey towards health. And it’s quite the contrast from the stark while walls and institutional feel of every other “health” clinic I’ve worked in.