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Q&A: Weight Management patient celebrates 50-pound weight loss

Elizabeth Birk, a patient at Manhattan's Ascension Via Christi Weight Management Clinic, saw great success with consistency, patience and getting out of her comfort zone. Elizabeth has seen a 50-pound weight loss and attributes some of her success to the Ascension Via Christi Weight Management team and a personal trainer.

1. What motivated you to join Ascension Via Christi Weight Management?

A friend at work had joined and she encouraged me to join too. I was also sick of being very overweight and extremely unhappy with myself. I had seen a picture of myself at my older sister's wedding and I was so embarrassed by how I looked. I decided I needed to get it together and work on me.

2. What were the challenges you faced before your lifestyle changes?

I had very low self-esteem. It was also getting harder and harder to find clothes in stores that fit. I was having a lot of joint pain and am pre-diabetic. I didn't want to follow the path of other family members and end up on insulin.

3. How has Ascension Via Christi Weight Management helped you reach your goals?

I'm a numbers-driven/visually driven person. When I didn't see the numbers going down, they were great support and showed me that I was making great progress, even if it wasn't as fast I wanted. They have helped me make better choices nutritionally and have pushed me to track my meals/food and stick to my daily calorie goal. They encouraged me to start an exercise routine that has worked well for me, even if I lacked some major motivation at the beginning.

4. What aspect of the program helped you the most?

I think the fact that it is overseen by physicians and a registered dietitian helped most. I know that they have my health in mind and will help me make the best changes possible. Also, the consistent appointments help you to see your progress. They have been amazingly supportive, especially when I was down and not feeling like I was improving.

5. What advice would you give a new patient coming to Ascension Via Christi Weight Management for the first time?

Give it time! You may feel defeated or put off at first, especially if the weight doesn't melt off like you expect. Stick with it! Remember why you are doing this. This is for you to live a better, healthier lifestyle.

6. What health improvements have you seen?

A 10-pt. drop in my BMI! Being able to take the stairs and not be completely out of breath and exhausted when I get to the top. Being able to work out longer than 10-15 minutes at a time. Just all around feeling better! No more painful joints from the pressure the extra weight was putting on me.

7. What barriers did you encounter when working on your weight loss goals and how did you overcome them?

Motivation! I have terrible motivation when it comes to working out and eating healthy. It can take me a long time to get motivated enough to stick with something. If I don't see results quickly, I get discouraged and end up quitting. I don't like not being good at things, so it’s easier to just quit than to fail. Forcing myself to go to the gym, to not take another serving of food or to have a much smaller portion of dessert. Getting a trainer at the gym was the best thing I could have done. I needed someone to hold me accountable and to push me. My trainer is amazing! He pushes me harder than I ever have been before. He makes working out fun and not completely dreadful. He has been a huge part of my success and weight-loss for sure. He is my number one fan on this journey!

8. In what ways do you measure success?

The number on the scale. It has taken my brain a while to catch up with the number on the scale. I wasn't seeing the 50-pound weight loss that I achieved. I still was seeing a very overweight person. I saw the number on the scale decreasing and the inches coming off, but I wasn't seeing the physical change yet. It’s hard to notice those changes when you see yourself every day in the mirror. I needed to take photos and compare them to previous ones to remind myself that I was making progress. I think the true breaking point was when I had to break down and buy new jeans. I went to the mall and was trying on jeans and thought, let’s just try some tops on too. I kept having to go down in sizes for the tops and eventually ended up in a size I haven't worn since I was a freshman in college (13 years ago). I started crying in the dressing room at the store. It was like everything finally clicked and I saw the "new" me for the first time. It was a great feeling for sure!

For more information about Ascension Via Christi Weight Management, visit:

About Michelle Kennedy

Michelle Kennedy is the Senior Marketing Specialist for Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Manhattan, Ascension Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg and Wamego Health Center. She is a proud wife and mom and loves cooking, camping and spending time outdoors, her dogs and reading.