Weight Management Center

Patient Stories

Jonathan Blackman

Jonathan Blackman

Bethlehem • Lost 80 pounds
Medical Weight Loss Program

I had been struggling with my weight since my late 20s. At first, it was just gaining weight, but as I approached my mid 30s, I realized it was so out of control that my health was starting to suffer. I was level 3 morbidly obese and suffered from sleep apnea, anxiety, high blood pressure, high sugar (pre-diabetes range), high cholesterol, fatty liver, vitamin D and iron deficiency and intermittent chest pain – almost all of which from being overweight.

I tried a few diets including Weight Watchers, but with the same outcome – started off strong and then hit a rough patch and put on more weight. By the time I hit age 40, I reached my max weight of 330 lbs. Plus, as my job grew more stressful, my health grew worse. I knew at some point I needed to change, but it would take another two years before I really hit bottom and realized how bad my life had gotten. I was sitting in a stressful meeting at work, emotions were running high and I leaned up to say something and I felt myself start to black out. I felt like I lost at least 30 seconds. While no one else seemed to notice, it scared me, to the point where I went home and cried. I got up the next morning and went to work as normal, but this time I had new mission – it was time to make a change in everything.

I consulted my insurance plan and looked up a primary care physician since I hadn’t had one for ten years. I picked one at random, but it happened to be with St. Luke’s which was one block away from my home. Two days later, I found myself in the office with a wise and helpful nurse practitioner who asked me what brought me in and I just let it all out, in tears, about what happened. After I calmed down, she looked at me and told me that she could help if I really wanted help. I just looked at her and said simply, “I am all in. I will do everything you tell me.” She booked me for an appointment with St. Luke’s Weight Management Center.

Even though I opted not to have surgery, I did have many fears. I kept thinking about all the times I tried and failed, so why would this be different? Would I be miserably hungry all the time? What about my mental state? But between the caring staff at my primary practice and the St. Luke’s nutritionist, I was ready to begin the journey.

Once I started the process, it didn’t take long before I started to notice a difference. About a month into the program, I started to have more energy and feel better, but it wasn’t easy. I had a detailed schedule to follow and I stuck to it. In fact, seven months and 80 lbs. later, the original plan is still the same. Some foods have changed, but the times and calories are identical.

The main challenges are still hunger and cravings for foods that aren’t good for me, particularly fast food. But I have learned through classes and guidance that often it’s not actual hunger, but emotional hunger and knowing the difference is key.

The changes in my health have been almost a miracle. My counselor at St. Luke’s set me up with the Sleep Center so I could finally get treated for sleep apnea, which was much less severe because of my weight loss. My blood work changed drastically too; I no longer suffer from high blood pressure, my sugar levels and liver functions have improved and my cholesterol is down. I can even exercise at high rates with my pulse staying in the proper range.

I feel 1,000 percent better and can work and breathe normally again. Even my mental capacity has improved – I think clearer, work efficiently and multitask. I handle stress better; no panic attacks and I can calm down and rationalize faster.

Since my weight loss, I consider myself a “gym person.” I’ve even taken up swimming. Starting next month, I’ll be training for a 5K Tough Mudder with my brother and niece and couldn’t be more excited to get to that finish line.

For anyone considering a medical weight loss program, I would say simply it can be done and you don’t need to be the strongest person in the world, you just need a little faith in yourself and St. Luke’s will give you the rest. The truth is, it is not easy, but it can change your life. It’s not a diet, it’s a journey, and with any journey there are times when the path may be unclear. The important part is that you make your way back on track and keep moving forward. I have gained so much knowledge about food, the process, the science and about myself. Knowledge is power and knowledge is what makes this a journey, not simply a diet.

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