Looking back, Debbie Stine believes her weight issues started with her pregnancy 20 years ago.
“I never got back to my pre-pregnancy weight,” she says. “It gradually creeped up over time — 10 pounds a year until I weighed more than 300 pounds.”
The former Carnegie Mellon University professor says she tried various diets and exercise, but nothing really worked.
“I’d lose 20 to 30 pounds, but I couldn’t keep it off,” she says.
Complicating things was a pinched nerve in her back, which limited the amount of exercise she could do. When her athletic daughter began competing in taekwondo and soccer, she became even more sedentary.
“I was sitting all day at work, or in the car, or as a spectator watching my daughter,” says Debbie, 60. “We also ate a lot of fast food.”
No More Excuses
By the time her daughter left for college, Debbie had developed severe sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and prediabetes. Her travels as a consultant and policy analyst became increasingly difficult.
“My weight was ridiculous. It was time to do something,” says the Upper St. Clair resident. “I had no more excuses. I could finally focus on myself.”
Debbie initially tried doing it on her own with exercise, turning to water aerobics because it was easier on her back.
“I didn’t gain weight, but I didn’t lose it either,” she says.
At the recommendation of Vera Stabile, MD, her UPMC primary care doctor, Debbie turned to UPMC’s Comprehensive Weight Loss Program at UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital. She began a medically supervised weight loss program that starts with a meal replacement plan along with monitoring and counseling. She also attended classes where she learned how to make better food choices and transitioned to healthy, self-prepared foods.
Debbie credits UPMC physician assistant Kelly Kauffman, MPAS, PA-C, and dietitian coordinator Lindsay Lee, MS, RD, LDN, for helping to keep her on track.
“I love potatoes. But they helped me realize that I relied too much on carbs for energy,” she says.
When she began the program in October 2018, Debbie weighed 320 pounds. Six months later, she weighed in at 260 pounds — a 60-pound weight loss. One year later, she was down to 228 pounds.
“Losing 50 pounds made me happy. But losing 90 was thrilling,” says Debbie. “I feel tremendously better. Everyday life is so much easier.”
Aiming for “Onederland”
Today, Debbie continues to exercise and eat right. She works out daily, doing Pilates and going to the gym. She thinks twice before eating carbs, focusing instead on proteins and vegetables while maintaining a daily calorie intake of 1,100 to 1,200 calories. She also meets with the program staff every other month to weigh in, review her food and exercise log, and discuss strategies plus any issues that arise.
“They help keep me accountable. And the dietitian comes up with a lot of good suggestions,” she says.
Other benefits included reducing her blood pressure medicine by half. In addition to her 92-pound weight loss, Debbie lost 10 inches off her waist and dropped four sizes from a 22/24 to a 16 in pants and suits. Every aspect of traveling — getting through airports, climbing stairs, sightseeing with groups — has gotten easier. Best of all?
“I can now fit easily into an airplane seat without a seatbelt extender,” says Debbie. “That’s when I knew I had accomplished something.”
But she’s not done yet. Debbie’s current goal is to lose 32 more pounds so she can get back to her pre-pregnancy weight of 190 pounds. Among many dieters, achieving a weight of 199 or below on the scales is “arriving at onederland.”
“I think I have a good chance of reaching that,” she says.
Note: This patient's treatment and results may not be representative of all similar cases.