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Just 16 months ago, David Elliott’s life looked much different. The 33-year-old pastor from Naperville had struggled with his weight for a long time, but he put off getting help because he thought he could do it himself.
“I thought, ‘I’ll lose five pounds first, then when I get to the doctor I can say I’ve already started.’ I learned quickly that doesn’t work,” says Elliott. He didn’t realize it then, but his weight had climbed to 471 pounds.
When Elliott’s son, August, was born at the end of December 2017, everything changed. “I wanted to be the best I could be for him. I realized that I finally needed to ask for help,” he says.
“It was a big step for me but I realized that, walking through the pregnancy process with my wife was a joy and a wonderment and a learning process in itself. And that’s certainly something you don’t do on your own.”
Elliott with his son, August, who was born at Edward Hospital.
Elliott’s wife, Becky, 32, went online to search for help. She landed on Edward-Elmhurst Health Center at 1331 W. 75th Street in Naperville. “It was a name we recognized and trusted,” says Elliott. The program, called Endeavor Health® Weight Management, takes a highly personalized approach to weight loss.
“My wife said, ‘If I made an appointment for you, would you go?’ My answer was ‘Yes, absolutely,’” says Elliott. “I had a month-old son, and I realized that I wasn’t getting any smaller.”
Elliott’s first appointment was on March 14, 2018 with Anne Marie Fetter, A.P.N. “I was so self-conscious going into that first appointment. I had no idea what I weighed. I knew it was north of 400 pounds, but when that number flashed up on scale — I had never seen it that high,” he says.
He had an EKG and other tests to gauge his overall health, and he and Fetter talked about a plan to lose weight. Elliott says that surgery wasn’t something he wanted to do, so that wasn’t discussed. “We talked about ways to do things that didn’t include surgery.”
Elliott started taking medications, including Topamax®, to curb sweetness cravings. He noticed an immediate effect when powdered sugar tasted way too sweet. He also began phentermine to curb his appetite and metformin to regulate his blood sugar levels.
Elliott also met with dietitian Toni Havala, MS, RD, LDN. Together, they talked about meal plan ideas and tracked his macronutrient goals. “I didn’t realize the volume of food I had been eating before. I didn’t pay attention to it,” he says.
Elliott learned about the nutrients he needed. “People are always surprised that I’m not on a restrictive diet. There’s nothing restrictive about it, where I can’t eat this or that.” Elliott says it’s more about portion control and tracking the totals he’s had for the day. He was also advised to increase his step count, so he started out walking.
Elliott also met with a psychologist a few times early on, and learned about the mindfulness aspect of eating. He realized that he had been turning to food when he was bored, so he needed to turn to other activities instead.
“The science of weight loss has been really interesting to me. I used to think that weight loss would happen if I ate, or didn’t eat, certain things. But it is more basic and simple. It’s down to calories in, calories out,” he says.
After 16 months, on July 18, 2019, Elliott weighed in at 249 pounds. He had lost 222 pounds. “I don’t even remember being the weight I am now. I haven’t been this size since early high school or middle school,” he says.
Elliott attributes his weight loss success to a combination of therapeutic modalities — medication, diet changes, and finding exercises that worked for him, like circuit training, lifting and walking.
“I had such an aversion to going to the doctor because of my weight. Now that’s been completely turned around,” he says. “The care and the compassion from everyone at Edward-Elmhurst was phenomenal. There was absolutely no judgment. And the capacity to help, and to help in a way that was best for me, has been fantastic.”
Elliott adds: “So much of weight loss culture today focuses on body image; particularly negative body image. And that is something that I never experienced through Endeavor Health® Weight Management. It most certainly is first and foremost a health program, but its success is driven by you, the patient, and a body-positive mentality. You aren’t made to feel bad for wherever you’re starting or what your goals are — and perhaps that has been my key.”
Today, Elliott sees Fetter on a monthly basis and has follow-ups with Havala. “I choose to go because of the consistency and accountability of it for myself.” He says he will continue on to get to a BMI number that is not on the obese level anymore.
“I learned so many things along the way about myself. I want to be the best I can be for my family going forward. This has been my goal since I started. Wherever that takes me, I’ll be happy to get to,” he says.
A year ago, Elliott says he took a family trip to Disney World for his mother-in-law’s 65th birthday. On that trip, he was too big to fit on the new Flight of Passage ride, which was disappointing. But this past spring, Elliott and his family went back to Florida and he was able to fit on the ride.
“Overall I feel really good today. I fit into things I hadn’t before. I feel better energy-wise, I’m more alert, my joints feel better. I can get up and down easily with my son. I can’t imagine what I would feel like running around with my son if I hadn’t done anything. I don’t want to know what that would be like,” says Elliott.
He adds: “I’ve been trying to search for answers in myself. What took me so long to realize I couldn’t do it on my own? I have to thank my wife for pushing and prodding, for wanting what is best for me.”
Elliott’s advice to others who are struggling with their weight? “You can do it. You absolutely can do it. There are people that want to help you, that can help you, and that will walk with you every step of the way. They will work as hard as you to get you to success — as you define it.”
To learn more about your options with Endeavor Health® Weight Management, call 331-221-6100.
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