Guest post by Dr. Wes Youngberg
“I’ve gotta figure something out doc, because I’m losing my mind. I can’t concentrate. I’m getting upset really easily. I’m nervous and shaky. I need some medication or something.”
I still remember how worried and tense David was during our first visit. It was a late Friday morning at the lifestyle clinic. David had called in to schedule an appointment. Thankfully for him another patient had just cancelled, opening up a time slot at the last minute. David was a big guy—6 ft. 5 in. and 332 pounds.
As I sat across from him and listened to his story, I began to understand why he was under so much stress. David was the residential manager of a 1,000-room exotic resort. Located on a beautiful beach, this resort offered a wide selection of recreational activities—swimming, scuba diving, kayaking, etc. It also hosted a variety of dining and entertainment options.
David’s job was stressful. As the residential manager, David was second-in-command. At the end of each day, the general manager would walk out of the office and say: “All right, Dave. It’s all yours,” and would go home to enjoy the evening with his family.
Meanwhile, David was responsible for any problems that arose during the evening and night hours. He lived on-site with his wife and five year old daughter. Working day and night, he never got a break.
Even though David was putting in such long hours, his boss never seemed to be satisfied. He was constantly challenging David’s decisions. Years of this was taking a toll on David’s physical and emotional health. The last few months had been particularly stressful. David was anxious, irritable, and edgy.
He had recently had an argument with one of his 400 employees. He admitted being so angry that he almost hit the man. David realized that he was just one emotional degree away from losing his job and never being able to work in that industry again.
However, David’s real wake-up call had come the night before. He described to me how after work he returned to his residential suite and sat down in his chair, his head in his hands. He realized that his whole body was shaking uncontrollably.
Just then, he felt the little hand of his five-year-old daughter on his shoulder. She came close, hugged him, and whispered: “Daddy, I don’t want you to die.”
David told me that it broke his heart to realize that his little daughter was worried she was going to lose him. “I decided right then and there that I wasn’t going to wait any longer; I was going to get some help first thing in the morning. So I called your clinic and somebody had just cancelled, so here I am.”
Fortunately for Dave, we were just starting a new wellness program. I told Dave that I highly recommended that he join. He was enthusiastic and willing to give it his best shot. I filled out a lab slip for him and we had the tests done immediately. A few days later, he was in my office to review his labs before our program orientation started.
I explained to David what his lab results meant. He had advanced pre-diabetes and was at a high risk of having a heart attack or stroke. David’s “metabolic mess” included obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, high blood sugars, high insulin levels, and a heightened level of inflammation.
I shared with David that even though the results seemed alarming, there was hope for change. This lifestyle program would give him the tools he needed to dramatically improve his health.
I believe that it’s important for patients to set their own goals and to find their own motivation for change. So I encouraged David to write down specific goals that he wanted to accomplish that would help motivate him to take charge of his health. David decided on three goals and shared them with me.
1. To weigh less than 200 pounds. 2. To run the Honolulu marathon. 3. To become the general manager at a 5-star hotel in Maui.
I have to admit, when I first looked at David’s goals, they didn’t seem very realistic given his current condition. However, I sensed that he was determined to take charge of his health, and I encouraged him to move forward with the program and do his best to reach his goals.
THE TURNING POINT
I watched David as he began the process of transforming his health. He took notes at every meeting and immediately began implementing each new health strategy he learned. He completely altered his diet and began exercising. Within a few days, he noticed a dramatic improvement in his mood and energy level.
Just one week into the program, David stuck his head in my office. “By the way,” he said, “you know how I was talking about anti-anxiety meds. Well, never-mind about that. I’m feeling great.”
At the end of two weeks, David had lost 11 pounds. His blood pressure had improved so much that he was able to discontinue all his anti-hypertensive medications. His cholesterol had dropped 54 points, and his blood fats had dropped by 50 percent.
By the end of six months, David had lost 79 pounds, lowered his cholesterol even further, and was no longer pre-diabetic. His fasting insulin had decreased from 17 to 10, and his Cardiac CRP level had decreased by 50 percent.
I continued to see David for several months after the program ended. He continued to lose weight, improve his health, and reduce his risk factors. Eventually, his health had improved so dramatically that he felt confident continuing his new lifestyle on his own. We lost touch for several months.
One day I was at the airport after returning from a medical conference. As I walked down the terminal headed for the baggage claim area, I heard someone call my name. I turned around to see David, along with his wife and little girl. It took me a few seconds to recognize him. Tall, lean, and muscular, David looked like an athlete. “David!” I said. “You look great! What’s your weight at?”
He grinned and said: “I broke the 200 mark about a month ago.” In just a year and a half, David had lost over 130 pounds! “By the way,” he continued, “Guess what I did two weekends ago? Do you remember my goals? Immediately my mind flashed back to David’s three goals that he had set a year and a half before. “I ran the Honolulu marathon, and I finished it.”
I congratulated David and let him know I was proud of him. “So where are you heading now?” I asked. “We’re heading to Maui,” he replied. I’ve been offered a job as the general manager of the top resort on the island.”
For the full story on how David’s transformed his health and life read Dr. Youngberg’s new book, Goodbye Diabetes. Order it now at www.DrYoungberg.com.