One Woman’s Formula for Weight Loss: Diet, Exercise, Encouragement

Shirley-Black-Patient-OptimizationAfter coloring on the floor with her 2-year-old niece last September, Shirley Black knew it was finally time to get serious about knee-replacement surgery.

She couldn’t get up without help.

Shirley, who lives just outside of Springfield and has been married to her husband, Robert, for nearly 30 years, knew surgery wasn’t an option until she lost weight. She had tried everything, but nothing seemed to work.

A few weeks later, she scheduled an appointment with her new primary care physician, Nicole Florence, MD, with Memorial Physician Services – Koke Mill.

“I told her I needed to come up with a plan,” Shirley recalls.

Dr. Florence told her about Memorial Medical Center’s Patient Optimization Program. The 10-week individualized treatment plan helped Shirley lose more than 30 pounds, easily passing the 25-pound goal she needed to reach in order to move forward with her surgery, which she had in May through Memorial Medical Center’s JointWorks program.

She worked with the staff at the Memorial Weight Loss & Wellness Center to develop a personalized plan. The first suggestion was to make time to walk 20 minutes a day. Shirley, however, was unable to do that because of her knee pain, which she had been enduring for more than four years since she slipped on the ice on Christmas Eve in 2009.

The solution was to take advantage of the walking pool at the Gus and Flora Kerasotes YMCA, where she could stroll against the current without putting undue pressure on her knees. She went to the Y as many nights as she could after work for her 40-minute pool walks.

A 51-year-old mom of two adult children, Shirley also learned to adjust her diet.

“I wasn’t a big overeater,” she said. “I would just get so busy that I would go hours without eating until I was in starvation mode.”

The solution: She has a purse and a carry-on luggage bag stocked with several water bottles, protein bars and dried fruit. She learned to eat a little at a time throughout the day.

“That was hard to do,” she said, “going from twice-a-day eating to feeling like you’re grazing all day.”

But her diligence to her diet-and-exercise routine paid off. She started the Patient Optimization Program at around 260 pounds and weighed under 230 when it was over.

She credits the Weight Loss & Wellness Center’s support group as well as the staff for giving her the encouragement to keep going.

“It’s so motivational when I go to my appointments at Memorial. They cheer you on,” she said.