JoAnn Burrow has lost 122 pounds over the past 14 months – that equates to more than 32% of her original body weight.
Her story leading up to this incredible accomplishment began when she was three months pregnant with her daughter. She woke up one morning and could barely walk.
Was it due to extra weight? Her bad knees? There were no answers until she was formally diagnosed with lupus after enduring a difficult pregnancy.
Doctors prescribed a high dose of steroids to get the lupus under control.
“With continued use of steroids, I gained a lot of weight. I was in so much pain from the lupus that I couldn’t exercise – I could barely walk,” says JoAnn. “All I could do was go to work and take care of my kids.”
Adjustments to medications helped get her lupus under control. But at her annual exam, her Ob/Gyn expressed concern about her weight gain and the length of time she’d been taking steroids, and referred JoAnn to Matthew Kampert, DO, a Cleveland Clinic physician with dual appointments within sports medicine and endocrinology.
“JoAnn’s pregnancies, arthritic knees and steroid use to control her lupus had led to significant weight gain. At one point, a high daily dose of steroids contributed to her gaining 60 pounds in just six months,” says Dr. Kampert. “When she came to see me, she was very motivated to lose weight.”
Dr. Kampert works with patients on exercise and nutrition, providing education on food and nutrient timing and how to begin an exercise program then progress from there. “When and what you eat, and when and how you exercise matters,” says Dr. Kampert. “The key to losing weight is creating a caloric deficit which can be done two ways – either eat less or exercise more.”
JoAnn learned not to overcomplicate eating, to view herself as an athlete, and to treat food as fuel. She changed what she eats, and how much. “I’ve been very determined not to cut things totally out of my diet because to me, that’s just not sustainable in the long term. But I have adjusted the amounts of things that I eat,” she says.
For exercise, her husband bought her a Peloton. She started to ride slowly, and the cardio helped her lose a lot of weight initially. It also helped her gain back the strength in her legs.
“I’d lost so much muscle from not being able to walk. The bike helped me build muscle back. Once I did that, Dr. Kampert encouraged me to start adding in strength and resistance training,” says JoAnn.
Today, JoAnn does a full body work out, switching the focus between her arms, core and legs, then rides for 20-to-30 minutes.
“At first, it was hard to find the time to work out. It’s not easy to work full time, take care of two active kids, and support my husband,” she says. “But I made it a priority. Sometimes I may not get my exercise in until 10 pm, but I still get it in.”
JoAnn continues to see Dr. Kampert as she works toward achieving her goal weight of around 140 pounds. “Monthly appointments allow us to evaluate where we’re at, make adjustments, and try to do more so JoAnn can reach her goal,” says Dr. Kampert.
Endocrinology & Metabolism Institute,
Orthopaedic & Rheumatologic Institute