When Monica Warnick’s mom passed away in 2018, it was the wake-up call she needed to make some changes in her own life.
“My mom died young. Her death was due to a lot of health problems associated with obesity,” says Monica, a psychiatric nurse at Cleveland Clinic Akron General. “That was an eye opener. I knew I didn’t want the same thing to happen to me. I have a son to think about and I need to be healthy for him.”
At 47 years old, Monica had gradually gained weight over the years and discovered she was pre-diabetic. She became discouraged after learning she wasn’t a candidate for weight-loss surgery.
Monica was referred to Shweta Diwakar, MD, a medical weight loss physician at Cleveland Clinic Akron General. “I had tried diets in the past and lost weight, but I slowly gained it all back,” she says. “I was doubtful that Dr. Diwakar could help me, but I figured I’d at least give it a try.”
During Monica’s first appointment with Dr. Diwakar in August 2020, they discussed getting her diet and portions under control.
“One of the first things Dr. Diwakar taught me was you can’t stick to a plan one day and then cheat the next day,” she says. “This must become a way of life.”
With 12-hour workdays that don’t end until 7:30 p.m., Monica was in the habit of coming home and eating a late dinner. One of Dr. Diwakar’s lifestyle changes included not eating anything after 7 p.m. This meant Monica had to make some adjustments to her routine.
“I now have a meal replacement shake for lunch on the days I work and pack my dinner and eat it between 4:30 and 5 p.m. while I’m still at work,” she says.
Other changes she has made include completing meals within 30 minutes and waiting at least three hours between meals or snacks in order to give her body time to metabolize the food. A typical meal for Monica now includes 2 to 3 ounces of protein accompanied by fruit, often grapes or strawberries. For snacks, she chooses foods high in protein like beef sticks or hard-boiled eggs.
Another element that Monica has added to her life is exercise. Almost every day, she takes her dog to the park and walks at a brisk pace for three to four miles. She’s considering taking up running and hiring a personal trainer to help her tighten up loose skin from her weight loss.
Monica says the hardest part of the journey was just taking the first step and seeking help.
“It’s intimidating because you don’t know if it will work,” she says. “But I’ve learned that you have to put in the work to make it work.”
She credits her success to changing her mealtimes, not grazing, having a better understanding of insulin resistance, and reducing her carbohydrates.
“I feel so good. I have so much energy,” she says. “I sleep well and wake up rested.”
All her lab work, including her cholesterol and blood glucose are within normal limits as is her blood pressure. Eighteen months after her first appointment with Dr. Diwakar, she has shed 95 pounds, is 12 sizes smaller and is enjoying shopping for new clothes.
“I look better than I have in years,” she says. “I’m so thankful that I met Dr. Diwakar. She’s really good at what she does. She takes the time to listen and encourage. She is also able to adjust medications and prescribe appetite suppressants to help with cravings.”
Monica’s coworkers often ask about the secret to her weight loss, and she gives them all the same advice.
“Anyone can do this, but you have to really want it and be willing to stick with the lifestyle changes for the long haul.”
Akron General has a dedicated, knowledgeable and patient-centered team of weight-loss specialists who can help you find the best, and most healthy, solutions for your weight-loss difficulties. For more information, visit AkronGeneral.org/BariatricCenter.
Wellness & Preventive Medicine