UAB Medicine News


Back Pain Leads Former Nurse to Weight Loss Solution

My name is Judy Shepherd. I was a nurse for 25 years before I quit, and about six years later I was “called” into the ministry as a pastor of the United Methodist Church. I loved my ministry!

Judy ShepherdUAB Weight Loss Medicine patient Judy Shepherd, before and after her treatment.

But I had to retire in 2015 due to my back issues. I’d had two surgeries within seven months at the end of 2014 – my second back surgery and a total hip replacement. What I found out was that I was in more pain than not. The more pain I had, the more I had to sit; the more I sat, the more I ate! And the vicious cycle started.

By 2018, I was about 50 pounds heavier than at my retirement three years prior. So I started looking for help with my back issues, due to the excruciating pain every day. The pain was a 7-8 on a scale of 10. My back needed a surgery that had a higher mortality rate than survival rate!

So I had to find something else to help me. I checked into everything medical-related and finally looked into liposuction. The problem with this was the outrageous cost, and it would not change my lifestyle.

Turning to UAB

I was finally referred to the UAB Weight Loss Medicine clinic, where I learned how to change my lifestyle for a healthier life and lose weight! On Sept. 28, 2018, I had an appointment with Amy Warriner, MD. She was amazing and told me she could help me lose weight and hopefully it would help my back. It had to work for me, because this “wad” hanging in front and pulling on my back was only making my back pain worse.

After a metabolism test, I started the PREPARE program and was given a certain amount of calories I could ingest in a single day. I was very careful and followed the plan closely. I was scheduled for appointments twice a month, and I met with others like me on the weight loss journey as we attended nutrition classes. Now remember, I am a nurse, so I didn’t feel that I needed these classes. To my amazement, Karin, one of the nutritionists, was the best teacher, supporter, and helper, and I couldn’t have made it without her! She was concerned about each of us in that class and wanted us to succeed. Melissa, at the front desk, was so super helpful and would help any and every time I showed up. I had a lot of questions for her, and she was so patient. What encouragers these women were for me!

When it was time to start including food in my meals, these women were my rocks. I was scared to start food because I’d lost over 35 pounds. Slowly but surely, I’ve added a little food at a time, and now seven months later, I’m down over 50 pounds and my lifestyle has changed to a healthier one. I will continue to see them regularly so I can keep this weight loss stabilized. For me, the biggest help besides the accountability from this clinic was the MyFitness app. When we are accountable for what we want to change, it is more effective. I’ve lost weight before, but without the accountability, it gradually crept back.

I never really had problems until my health was affected, and that was the last straw for me. The pain was a killer! I now see after all these months how my eating habits were so sloppy – large portions eating only three times a day. Or even skipping meals, eating all on my plate (remember LARGE portions), and the huge sugar intake – you could call me a person with a “sugar addiction”! Now, afterward, I don’t even want what used to be the “yummy foods.”

How I’m Doing Now

Would I do this over? You bet I would, in a heartbeat. And I would do it a lot sooner but only in this planned and monitored way. This change in my life and loss of excess weight have helped me so much:

  1. I have more energy, and I feel better. I can move and walk now without as much pain; I can walk 30 minutes on the treadmill when at first it was only 5 minutes!
  2. I have more stamina. I could keep up with my husband walking around Pigeon Forge without getting out of breath, and I don’t have problems going up and down the steps at our house.
  3. I have fewer medical problems. My cholesterol dropped almost in half, and my glaucoma pressure is down.
  4. Not to mention, I have dropped many sizes in clothes! Yes, unfortunately, I had to have some new clothes, but I did keep some that I hope to wear “one day”.

If you don’t believe this story, look at my pictures – they don’t lie! These angels at UAB Weight Loss Medicine literally saved my life!

Click here to learn more about UAB Weight Loss Medicine services.

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