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A Client’s Journey

by Charlene Muhammad

I met Kea about five years ago when I was a budding clinical herbalist. She became one of my first clients as a 22 year old college student. Kea was suffering from GI imbalances that were causing GERD and a stomach ulcer. I suggested a few herbal strategies to support Kea’s digestive symptoms and also recommended that she make changes in her diet (identify and then stop eating those foods that were causing the imbalances) and develop strategies to manage her stress.

Kea was a model client in that she tried the suggestions I made and as they began to bring her some relief, she kept using them. Recently I caught up with Kea to check out her progress. She was still carrying ginger in her purse (just in case!) and had lost a lot of weight. Girlfriend looks good.

How old are you now Kea?

What is your current health goal?
To be healthy. I haven’t felt this good in my entire life and I want to stay this way.

How much weight did you lose?
55 pounds

How long have you been challenged with your optimal weight goals?
Since my freshman year in college. I was never skinny, but I was athletic and never needed to watch what I ate because I was always doing something like soccer or dancing. When I went to college, I stopped moving! I took on the college lifestyle- staying up all hours of the night and eating too. The weight came on and stayed on.

What methods did you try to lose the weight?
Weight Watchers, Atkins, you name it! Every fad diet there is my friends and I tried, but nothing ever stuck.

So how did you do it?
This was a 3-4 year process. First, I started cutting down on portion sizes. I began reading labels and being conscious of what I was putting into my body. Second, I changed the type of foods I was eating. For example, I started choosing high fiber foods with lower calories. These little changes became routine over time.

Since October 2009, I began to choose my food before going out to eat (at restaurants). I would checkout the menus on-line and have an idea about what I was going to order ahead of time. This way, I didn’t get to the restaurant hungry and then end up eating whatever was on the menu or smelled good.

Also I like watching the Food Network. Rather than just watch the programs, I began trying to cook the actual recipes that were being featured. This taught me about how to mix certain flavors and textures and how to put different types of foods and spices together.

I read lots of books too, Like Dr. Oz’s YOU on a Diet, Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live and Ian Smith’s 4 Day Diet. All of these books are written by medical doctors so not only do they say basically the same thing, they teach you about how the body works.

Do you deny yourself food?
No. But I do have a conversation with myself.

If I really want something, I ask myself, “why do you want this?” “How is this food going to help me?”  Based on all the reading I’ve done, I know that certain cravings are associated with our emotions. So if I want chips- that crunchy food- and crunchy food is associated with anger. So I ask myself, “what are you angry about?”

Now if my conversation says, “I want it ‘cause it tastes good,” then I allow myself the pleasure of eating it.

The key- it sounds to me- is staying consistent. What change in your thinking made this possible?

I just went at it by saying to myself, “Let’s just try.” Then I began to notice how good I felt physically (no GI stuff) and I did not want to go back to feeling that way again.

It is not about just losing the weight. It also is about losing the weight in my mind. I still don’t quite see myself as 55 pounds lighter. This is my self-image thing that I still need to work on.

Everyone who wants to lose weight must do the mental and spiritual work of weight loss. You have to ask yourself, “why did you allow yourself to gain the weight?”  and “what are your motivators to keep you going?”

I also made daily affirmations to myself and practiced positive thinking. I only want to do this thing once. So I keep working on it.

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