Success Story – Carla Schoeman

Over the next couple of months, we are going to share some success stories with you and find out why people decide to see a dietitian, what happens on the journey, what is hardest part of that journey and the end result from the client’s point of view.

First up is 32-year-old Capetonian, Carla Schoeman, who consulted with Registered Dietitian, Catherine Boome:

Why did you decide to see a dietitian? (Carla’s before story)

I have lived a relatively healthy life, eating what I thought was a balanced diet, and exercising regularly but not really seeing or feeling the results I felt I deserved with the effort. I do have some hormonal challenges that also complicate weight loss and felt that I was just getting heavier and heavier –despite pretty much always being on some form of a diet.

I tried my best to hate all carbs and mostly avoided sugar. But not only did I not lose weight, I gained weight, a little more every year. I’ve always been a runner and despite drastically increasing my mileage over the years, I kept getting slower.

At the end of 2012, I just decided enough was enough! I needed to get really serious about my health. I clearly didn’t have all the answers so decided to find someone who does. This was a big step for me – I’m a very proud person and asking for help didn’t come easy.

Tell us about your journey with the dietitian?

I was referred to Catherine Boome by a friend who raved about her holistic, “normal” approach to food and nutrition. I wasn’t too keen on weighing things or counting points, so this was a big plus. I met with her at the end of January 2012 and told her my story.

I expected her to be as perplexed as I was about my weight gain/lack of weight loss but she wasn’t. She was convinced she could help me. After spending about 90 mins with her going over my routine, my likes and dislikes etc. she developed a personal plan for me.

A week later, after spending some time explaining to me how my hormonal imbalances are impacting the way food behaves in my body, she presented me with a plan that not only compensates for that, but also included carbs! (I was worried about that!) .

The main focus was on portion control – helping me understand what my body really needs, how much and how often. She also spent quite a lot of time preparing me mentally – calling me out on being too hard on myself and not having faith in my abilities to accomplish my goals.

The plan was so simple, I couldn’t believe it. It was applicable to pretty much every part of my life. Even when I went out for dinner with friends, I was able to make smart choices within the eating plan, no matter what restaurant I was in.

Once I understood why my body was being so stubborn about weight loss, I could work with that to make smarter food choices. Even after the “diet” finished.

Catherine was also fantastic in providing leadership when I decided to enter the Argus – helping me make the best choices for my body’s needs over such a long distance. She helped me prepare for holidays, giving me tips on what types of foods I should favour when I’m in another country and not in control of the preparation or the menu.

Every time I had a question (or a meltdown), Catherine calmly provided me with the information I needed to make the right choice. She is part and parcel of my success story – she provided the framework I needed to get to where I wanted to be, and which allowed me to be “in charge” of the decisions I made.

Tell us about your results?

I refuse to weigh myself so the only times I’ve been on a scale in the past 5 years has been in Catherine’s office. Three months into the plan I had lost about 6kgs. No one was more surprised than me.

I continued to lose another 8kgs by the end of 2013. That was 14kgs in about 11 months. I dropped 2 dress sizes and my entire body composition changed. Also, I went from average runner to a really good one – taking almost 30mins off my average time for a half marathon.

At the end of 2013 Catherine gave me a maintenance plan. I check in with her every 6 months to keep myself accountable and I’ve managed to keep my weight consistent over the past 15 months, since finishing the plan. I also talk to her regularly for advice on changes in my routine, or when I’m training for a particular race. I feel so in tune with my body, I can feel when I’ve had an unhealthy couple of days – and I know exactly how to fix it. No need for a panic, or a crash diet. I just go back to the basics that Catherine gave me.

What was the hardest part of the journey?

For me the biggest hurdle was to actually make the appointment to go and see her, as I couldn’t imagine that she would be able to tell me something I didn’t know. I was very wrong!

That first winter was pretty tough too because I was less active and therefore home more and wanted to eat more! Catherine provided some great advice and ideas that got me around those hurdles without any long-term damage. Socially I struggled a bit with friendship-dynamics changing when I gave up alcohol, but mostly I was very well supported in my journey. I haven’t given up alcohol completely – I love my red wine, but now have it as a treat when I’m with friends. It’s not part of my daily routine anymore.

What are the top three tips you can share? 

  1. The dietitian’s advice won’t help you unless you do what she says.
  2. The only way to get lasting results is to make lifestyle changes. You can’t do a fad diet and expect a long-term result. It must be about being healthy, first. Weight loss is a consequence of that.
  3. It’s TOTALLY worth it

What the dietitian says (feedback from Catherine Boome)

Carla was destined to succeed right from the minute she walked into my rooms. She was very motivated to be healthy but just so confused with what, when and how to eat in order to manage her weight. She had been making a great effort to lose weight but she was not being rewarded with the results she deserved. Something just did not make sense and she decided to approach an expert in food and nutrition to help her make sense of it all.

We started with basic Nutrition 101. Nutrition Education in order to facilitate a good understanding of food as a source of nutrition and fuel for the body, understanding metabolism and how certain food choices and eating habits can affect the body’s metabolism, hormones, insulin response, fat burning capabilities and therefore the ability to either gain or lose weight.

It was important for me to find out a bit about Carla – her food preferences, type of work, lifestyle patterns, exercise and hobbies in order to put together something that would fit into her way of life so that it would be practical for her to follow.

I then put together an individualized eating plan for Carla to follow and encouraged her to return to me periodically (as and when it suited her) for more support and motivation. This would also be an opportunity to tweak the plan if we needed to, or to answer any questions she might have had.

Incorporating healthy eating habits into Carla’s life did not appear to be too difficult, in fact she made it look very easy! This was a result of her motivation levels and go-getter personality. I believe that benefits of her improved energy levels, vitality and overall health served as a great motivator for her to keep going.

I believe that one needs to learn HOW to eat in order to manage weight, as opposed how to learning NOT to eat. This is such a valuable lesson for many of my patients.

To find a dietitian in your area visithttp://www.adsa.org.za/Public/FindARegisteredDietitian.aspx

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