Last winter, 20-year-old Alexa Jennings from Plainfield, Illinois, found herself in a tough spot. She had battled thyroid cancer the prior spring and through that experience, she had put on a bunch of weight.
By the end of December 2017, when her weight had climbed to 312 pounds, Jennings decided to do something about it. She went to her primary care physician, who suggested she visit Endeavor Health® Weight Management – Naperville.
Jennings made a New Year’s resolution to lose weight. “It affected my self-esteem, my social life, even my work performance,” she says.
So in the first week of January 2018, she met with Kristine Warnes, APN, an advanced practice nurse with Endeavor Health® Weight Management at Edward-Elmhurst Health, to see what the program could offer.
“I was very intimidated at first. I was 19 years old at the time. I thought I would probably be one of the younger ones there,” she says. “But everyone was extremely friendly. It was very personal. Every single one of them made it more personalized as opposed to just going patient to patient.”
Warnes prescribed medication: phentermine at first and, later, topiramate, which helped Jennings stop eating out of boredom or when she wasn’t hungry.
Jennings also cut out bread and sweets. “I knew I would fall off track if I allowed myself any, so I got rid of all the breads, sweets and pop for a few months,” she says.
At first, Jennings set a small goal. “I had no idea how achievable it would be. So I started at 25 pounds. Well, within the first month alone, I lost 23 pounds. Every time I went back to see Kristine, we just kept pushing the goal back,” she says.
“Kristine actually cared about me reaching my goal. She cared about what I was telling her. It made me want to reach the goal, because I knew she was cheering me on,” she adds.
Jennings also met with Toni Havala, MS, RD, LDN, an outpatient dietitian with Endeavor Health® Weight Management, who she says was a big help:
“Toni was able to help me figure it out for myself. I learned the things I should eat that worked with my body. It was more about being aware of what I was eating as opposed to not eating certain things. She also helped me be aware of portion size.”
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Jennings says she looked forward to her visits to the Clinic each month. “I actually looked forward to going there and sharing what I accomplished. The team made it exciting. They also made it a lot easier to stay on track. It helped me stick to what I was doing.”
So far, Jennings has lost 108 pounds since she started her weight loss journey.
She says it was a combination of methods that worked for her: meal planning, exercise and healthy lifestyle changes that she could make. “I always thought running was the only way to lose weight. Kristine helped me explore other options, like fitness classes. She offered many different resources to help me achieve my goals.”
Jennings now goes to the Clinic once every other month. “For a while it was about losing weight number-wise. Now I’m at the point where it’s more about physically how I feel,” she says.
This spring, Jennings will start nursing school at Joliet Junior College. She says she is determined to maintain where she is with her weight. “My goal is to take everything I’ve learned in the last year and keep applying it. Kristine taught me so many healthy lifestyle changes. I’m not worried about falling back.”
She also wants to find things that challenge her physically and mentally. She will continue working out regularly with a group of friends, and she is looking into taking kickboxing in the future.
Jennings’ advice to others struggling with their weight? “Stop comparing yourself to people around you. What works for one person isn’t going to work for you. Go about it in your own way. Set your own goals.”
“Today is the best I’ve ever felt. My brain is clearer. I can focus on school. I’m much happier. I’ve never felt as healthy as I do now,” she says.
Alexa did it, and you can, too!
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To learn more about your options with Endeavor Health® Weight Management, call 331-221-6100.
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