Stubbornness and Consistency Key to Maintaining a Healthy Weight Loss

Appeared in Brownsville Herarld and Valley Morning Star on September 29, 2013

By Lisa Mitchell-Bennett

Six years ago when then 71 year old Ann Buchanan went to a routine appointment with her doctor Yanira Martinez, she told her in no uncertain terms, “You are going to be diabetic.” But being from a family as Buchanan describes as “famous for its hard headedness”, her immediate reaction was, “Oh, no, I’m not!”

Buchanan says she knew that one of the principal causes of the onset of Type 2 diabetes is excessive weight or obesity. At the time she weighed 235 pounds and was wearing a 24 dress size, so she had her work cut out for her.

“I have known several people who suffered from the complications of diabetes—heart problems, strokes, high blood pressure, eye problems/ blindness, kidney disease/ dialysis, diabetic neuropathy, and amputations. I just wasn’t going to let this happen to me.”

Buchanan was no stranger to learning and organization, after a busy and successful career as a music teacher in the public schools to many kids, and a mother and grandmother. She set out to learn about a diet for diabetics. What she discovered is that it isn’t a special diet, but just a healthy one that involves increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables you eat, and eating a little less of everything else. She didn’t have to make any major diet overhaul and says, “I eat whatever my husband eats, only less of it. Except more fruits and vegetables!” Buchanan tries to stick to a 1,500 calorie diet which makes sense for her level of activity, age, and weight.

Her stubbornness about NOT becoming a diabetic paid off. She lost almost 100 pounds in a little over a year, averaging about 2 pounds a week. Six years later she still keeps her weight between 135 and 140. “I remember that it is easier to lose 2 or 3 pounds than it is to lose 20 or 30.  This morning I weighed 140, so I know I need to “watch it” for a couple of days.”

More importantly, her lab values are perfect and her blood sugar normal. She isn’t diabetic and her doctor even uses her as a good example for her other patients.

So what are Buchanan’s tricks?

1)    “I weigh myself every morning and write it down. At first I created a simple line graph to chart the next 10 pounds from high to low on the left side and about 5 weeks across the top.  Each day I would write my weight at the bottom of the day’s column and put a line on the appropriate square in the graph.  That way I had visual proof of the progress I was making, or needed to make.  Also, it is a lot easier to lose 10 pounds than it is to lose 100.  Recently I have felt that I do not need the graph, at least for the time-being but I may someday again.”

2)    “I learned about serving sizes and ate where servings were decided for me.  No “all you can eat” buffets…As soon as I am served I still ask for a carry out box for half of what is usually served at a restaurant. Cups or cones, not cartons of things like ice cream where you decide what you will eat, will help you with self control. Don’t believe that because it is in the container, it is equal to a serving.  For example, small salads in the deli at the grocery store seem healthy, but are actually 2 servings and more calories than you may think.”

3)    “I have two pictures side by side in my bathroom.  One is from October 2006 when I weighed 235 pounds and the other is from about the same time in 2009, when I weighed 145 pounds, and my husband and I modeled in the United Way Style Show. It is a reminder that I never want to become that large again, and how great I look being a healthier weight.”

4)    “Compliments are a great motivation.  A friend from church helped a lot because as soon as he noticed that I was losing weight, he began to tell me how good I looked. Allow yourself to be complimented and around people who notice.  Once an acquaintance saw my husband and me at an event here in town.   She thought that something had happened to Bob’s first wife (me) and that I was his new wife.  How can you beat that?”

So the “Buchanan method” of losing weight, being healthy and preventing diabetes does take some work but is possible with consistent monitoring and small changes– and some old fashioned stubbornness, because Tu Salud ¡Si Cuenta! (Your Health Matters!)