I have always been overweight, and I would most likely still be obese if I had not tried to donate blood at the Red Cross. When I donated, my blood was screened, and it was discovered that I had high levels of a liver enzyme.
I went to several specialists, who ran all kinds of tests. From these tests, it was discovered that I had type 2 diabetes. One treatment of type 2 is weight loss, so that is what I did. I went from 302 to 152 pounds in 14 months (March 1996 to May 1997). I did it mainly through diet, though exercise helped.
Diet: After the diagnosis, I went to a registered dietitian, who put me on a diet based on the American Dietetic Assn.'s dietary exchanges. To control my blood sugar, I eat six meals a day, three hours apart, with a certain amount of exchanges allowed for each meal. For example, for breakfast, I am allowed a small bagel (two starch exchanges), one cup nonfat milk (one milk exchange) and one small banana (one fruit exchange). I can "exchange" these for any others on the list to increase variety. I never experienced a great feeling of deprivation because fat exchanges are allowed.
Having fresh vegetables around also helped me lose weight. I never really ate vegetables before my diabetes was diagnosed, but now I eat them several times a day.
Exercise: Exercise is not a big part of my daily routine, but I am definitely more active than I used to be. For example, I now walk to places that I would have driven to before, and if given the choice, I will take the stairs rather than the elevator. I have recently started working out on a stationary bike as well.
Support: The support I have received has been outstanding. My family has been more than wonderful about changing the food they buy and eat. They have also encouraged me, my sister especially, by telling me how great I look and not being too harsh when I stray. My doctor, dietitian and diabetes educator have also been a good support network for both my weight loss and my disease.
Physical Changes: I went from a size 28W to a size 10 or 12 (it depends on the cut). Everything has thinned out, most notably my arms, fingers, feet (believe it or not) and, ahem, my chest. In addition, my blood sugar is under perfect control.
General Impression: Overall, I would say that losing the weight has improved my self-esteem, and this in turn has made me more friendly to people I do not know. The weight loss has been a positive experience that has improved my health a great deal. Because of it, I do not have to take medication, and my blood pressure and cholesterol are normal. This in turn makes me feel better about myself.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
Name: Karen Flummerfelt
Height: 5 feet, 9 1/2 inches
Old Weight: 302
New Weight: 152
Time to Get There: 14 months
Want to Share Your Success Story?
Losing weight is as individual as gaining weight. Do you have a story on how you got in shape and stayed there? If so, we'd like to hear from you with a 500-word essay listing what worked in terms of diet, exercise, encouragement and support as well as your emotional and physical changes.
We'd also like you to send us full-body color photos of you, before and after.
Send essay and photos to "How I Did It," Health, Los Angeles Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053, and include daytime and evening phone numbers. No phone calls, please. Submissions cannot be returned.
In addition to publication, winners will receive a Los Angeles Times gym bag and a gift certificate for a free pair of athletic shoes of your choice, redeemable at any Big 5 Sporting Goods store.