HEALTHY LIVING

I Lost Weight: A Health Scare Forced Dr. Lee Coleman, Jr. To Consider Nutrition After A 160-Pound Weight Loss

03/15/2013 09:03 am ET

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Name: Dr. Lee R. Coleman, Jr.
Age: 46
Height: 5'10"
Before Weight: 320 pounds

How I Gained It: From early childhood into adulthood, I'd struggled with my weight. As an overweight child, I dealt with teasing and bullying, all the way to a morbidly obese adult. My eating habits were horrible. My diet consisted of tons of fast food daily.

Due to my obesity and virtual lack of a social life, I buried my head in books and was able to attend the University of Miami and receive a BS degree in Biology with a minor in chemistry, and subsequently gain admission to and graduate from the Duke University School of Medicine, both with the support of full-tuition academic scholarships. I began the pursuit of a career in surgery, and from the outside it looked like I was on my way.

Little did I know what carnage was running amok within my body due to my being morbidly obese.

Breaking Point: I went to the movies and couldn’t fit in the seat. I had to get up and leave a crowded theater. That’s when I knew something had to change.

How I Lost It: I did it all via use of my local park. I began with about a 50-year slow walk, which was all I could handle at the time, at more than 320 pounds. On top of being too out of shape to walk any farther, I was also very self-conscious of my appearance. I always wore a sweatshirt with a towel around my shoulders to hide my "man boobs." But I persisted, and I cut back my calories to around 1,500 per day. Over the course of 10 months, I went from 320 to 160 pounds, and everyone was amazed at the transformation.

I kept this weight off for more than 10 years and was a workout fanatic, but I really did concentrate only on maniacal aerobic workouts and neglected to pay attention to healthy eating, thinking my calorie burning would suffice. All I paid attention to was my total calories, not the nutrients -- or lack there of -- I was introducing into my body.

On Dec. 10, 2010, I suffered a right-side hypertensive bleed (stroke) in the thalamic region of my brain and was left paralyzed on the left side of my body. Here I was, a doctor myself, who had lost 160 pounds, appearing to be in great shape, finding myself in the neuro ICU with a tube coming out of my brain to drain the blood! I thought my life was over! I prayed and asked God, "Why me?" I thought I'd done everything right! With the help of my faith, my family and the wonderful woman I have in my life, I have been able to regain my ability to walk and run again, and now find myself in the best shape of my life! I'm now weighing in at 155 pounds, after being discharged from the hospital at around 190 pounds after having been bedridden for well over a month!

I now only eat fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats. I haven’t eaten fast food for two years, a miracle for me! Instead of hamburgers and fries, I’d much rather eat baked chicken breast and broccoli. I haven’t had any soda or sugary drinks since the stroke, and basicaly drink only water. My workouts are a little less insane now, with at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity daily, such as walking.

One thing that helps me adhere to my healthy eating and daily walking plan is recording all my meals and workouts daily so that I can keep track of my progress. When I left the hospital after the stroke I was taking six anti-hypertensive medications but now, through a truly good diet plus exercise, I'm down to a small piece of one medication, and probably don't even need that! I'm blessed to not really have any visible signs that I've had a stroke. The main issues I have now include some chronic pain on the left side of my body, which is pretty common with thalamic strokes, and fatigue, which I fight through in order to get my exercise in daily. I'm now in better general shape than I was years ago, when I first lost the 160 pounds, but this will be a lifelong routine!

After Weight: 155 pounds
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