Adriana Koss struggled with her weight for as long as she could remember. At each doctor’s visit, the number on the scale inched higher, until, during a checkup when she was 15, she weighed in at 267 pounds.
Still, Adriana didn’t understand the potential health complications her weight posed until her physician told her that she was developing fatty liver disease, a condition that could eventually result in liver failure.
“The liver thing put it all into perspective,” said Adriana, now 16. “I was definitely scared.”
Adriana was ready to do whatever would be necessary to improve her health, so her doctor referred her to CHKD’s Healthy You program.
Over the years, Adriana had been relentlessly teased about her weight and felt helpless to do anything about it. At her first Healthy You session, she expected to be scolded and lectured. Instead, she was given achievable goals and found herself surrounded by teens who were struggling with the same issues.
While other programs talk about increasing exercise, Healthy You took Adriana and others to the YMCA to work out. While other programs talk about the ingredients in food, Healthy You took Adriana and the others to the grocery store, where they learned how to read food labels.
Those lessons stuck. After several months, Adriana could rattle off the fiber, sugar, fat and salt content of all the foods her family was eating. “Now I read the food labels carefully,” she said.
Rather than shooting for sudden weight loss, Adriana learned to make healthier choices for the long haul. Eat healthier food this week than you did last week. Walk more this week than you did last week. Watch less TV this week than you did last week. As these changes build up, gradual and lasting weight loss occurs.
“This isn’t a diet,” Adriana said. “It’s a lifestyle change.”
She has seen gradual and welcome changes as she lost about nine percent of her body weight. During her last visit to her doctor, she was thrilled to learn that her liver enzymes registered close to the normal range.
While her constant, steady weight gain made her feel helpless in the past, Adriana now feels like she has far more control over her health.
Months after she finished the program, she continues to eat healthier foods in moderate portions and increase her activity level. That sense of control has given her confidence. “I hold my head up now,” she said.
This story was featured in the third quarter 2010 issue of KidStuff, a publication of Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters. Click to read more patients' stories.