Living the (Dietitian’s and Wife’s) Dream

Yesterday was a great day. It was weigh-in day. And while the term “weigh-in day” may strike dread in the hearts of many, yesterday was one of the best days of my life. For those of you following Chad and my “40 by 40” project, you know Chad had given himself a year to decrease his BMI from 49 to 40, which is a loss of just over 74#. He has attacked this project like I cannot believe. He was inspired, determined and focused. And yesterday, something I couldn’t have even imagined happened: Chad met his goal with 126 days (that’s over 4 months) to spare! The path we set out to follow included a loss of 6.2 pounds each month for a year. Chad was able to lose an average of 9.35# for each of the past eight months!

An RD’s Dream: One of the interesting things about 40 by 40 is that, as a dietitian, I am married to my client. Before we decided to do this as more than just the quiet, private, casual attempts at lifestyle changes that we have done in the past, we had to discuss what it would be like when/if we hit trouble spots. What type of dietitian did he want me to be? Tough and drill-sergeant-like? Nurturing and understanding? We ended up settling on what I feel was a personal assistant-type role. He was so focused on doing the work, I often only had to be the scheduler of menus and workout times and be the personal shopper and chef. This was all agreed upon ahead of time; I told him that I would do my part if he did his. Boy, did he ever do his part! [Now just wait until he gets my bill. :-)]

I sometimes get asked, usually by students I speak to about a career as a dietitian, “What are the good and bad parts about the job?” One of the struggles I have is wanting to help people who are not yet ready to change. (This is not exclusive to dietitians; I imagine social workers, therapists, doctors, nurses, teachers, and scores of other professions have this same issue.) We all have had people who need help, and they may even ask for it, but they are just not ready to do what it takes. (The smoker keeps smoking, the drinker keeps drinking, the overweight are not ready to eat less and exercise more.) As someone who wants to support and educate people to improve their lives and health, it is difficult to see many fall short. Often, if we can get someone to adopt one change, such as someone will drink a diet soda for every regular soda they drink, that is a success.

Watching and working with Chad these past 8 months has been the greatest experience I believe a dietitian could hope for.

  • Chad was prepared to change his life, and committed to making the changes that would require.
  • He was a willing student, allowing me to educate him when he had questions and incorporated that knowledge into his daily life.
  • He was open with me about his feelings, including happiness, anger and fear.
  • He was open to discuss his relationship to food, both good and bad; in this way, a dietitian has a lot in common with a therapist.
  • He stayed on task, religiously tracking his food intake, not just the calories but the types of foods he ate, as well as his exercise and weight. This allowed me to help him tweak the plan when needed.

Chad was the model patient, and it was so rewarding for me to help him accomplish all that he has. Having a patient, client or customer succeed is the greatest professional joy and fulfillment I can imagine, and I got to see that on a daily basis. Every professional should be lucky enough to have this experience.

A Wife’s Dream: I also happen to be in love with Chad, which adds a few extra layers of joy to this experience! It is a reality that being obese, especially morbidly obese, increases the risk for many chronic diseases, as well as an early death. Chad has had a glimpse into that world, but we are well on the way to a longer life together, and how can you possibly thank someone who has given that gift to you?

There are good weeks and bad weeks in life, and for me, this one was shaping up to be quite a downer. My father, who passed away far too early from cancer, and who I still miss constantly, had a birthday. We had to say goodbye to our last pet, Bailey, leaving Chad and I empty-nesters. We, like many, feel the pressure to get our sorry-looking taxes done, and to top things off, we are experiencing a spring snowstorm. [Although this last is affecting everyone’s mood, its rougher on me than Chad, as I my spring fever starts in February and is now at epic proportions. In addition, it is affecting both of our training schedules for an upcoming half-marathon, which hardly seems fair, since we are trying to do something healthy, right?]

8 month collage

I just can’t stop staring at this!

But then, it was weigh-in day. Seeing him accomplish his goal in such a resounding way,  knowing he is healthier, and seeing the changes in him, both physical and emotional, has made everything else fade into the background.

I’m so proud of you, honey, you did it!

(What’s next?)

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