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updated: 1/14/2013 5:31 PM

Vista leads woman to non-surgical weight loss

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  • Rosalind McDaniel before and after losing 43 pounds with Vista's non-surgical weight loss program

    Rosalind McDaniel before and after losing 43 pounds with Vista's non-surgical weight loss program

Stephanie Paulsen

Losing weight and keeping it off is a constant battle for many people. Up until eight months ago, 47-year-old Rosalind McDaniel of Lake Villa was one of them.

"I've battled my weight most of my adult life," said McDaniel. "I gained 52 pounds when I got pregnant and lost the first 25. I struggled with the last 27 pounds over a six-year period, and then gained more weight."

McDaniel grew tired of fighting the weight loss battle and knew she needed to do something different. More than anything, she wanted to show her 7-year-old son that leading a healthy lifestyle at a healthy weight is important. Not only did McDaniel want to lose the weight for herself, she set out to be an example to her son.

In April 2012, McDaniel visited her doctor, Dr. Terryll Joy, and told him she was serious about losing weight. He advised her to explore her weight loss options with Aileen Waldschmidt, dietitian and Weight Management Options Coordinator at Vista Health System. McDaniel was looking for a program that had structure and produced fast, long-term results. Waldschmidt suggested that McDaniel enroll in the OPTIFAST Full Meal Replacement Program.

The OPTIFAST Full Meal Replacement Program is a medically supervised complete meal replacement weight management program that provides the gold standard for weight management therapy by providing complete and comprehensive weight loss. Of all the plans Vista offers, the OPTIFAST Program offers the most rapid weight loss with patients losing an average of 52 pounds in 20 -- 22 weeks.

As Vista's most intensive, non-surgical weight management program, patients must commit to weekly medical monitoring, lab work and group sessions. The medical, nutritional, physical and behavioral components of weight management therapy are all addressed. Waldschmidt says that weight management is a multifactorial condition.

"We use the 'four-pronged' approach to successfully and effectively treat obesity. We cannot treat obesity successfully unless all these components are addressed," said Waldschmidt.

For the first phase of the program, McDaniel's daily meal plan consisted of five OPTIFAST meal replacements, equaling 800 calories per day. She said the meal replacements tasted okay and knew that they were a means to get to her goal of better health. After the first week on OPTIFAST, she was excited to learn she lost weight.

The simplicity of the OPTIFAST Program allows patients to experience success right away, and this fuels their motivation to keep going. For McDaniel, with frequent exercise and a deep commitment to stay on plan, the pounds fell off.

"I appreciate that the weight came off quickly because it reminded me of where I was headed," she said. "I just wanted to be healthy."

McDaniel was on the complete meal replacement phase of the program for 12 weeks and then gradually transitioned back to food. The average length of transition is about six weeks.

"Rosalind saw the importance of being present and intentional about her food choices, intake, portions and the need to increase her activity level and make the necessary changes to achieve her goals," said Waldschmidt. "She owned her weight loss journey."

Today, McDaniel has met her weight-loss goal and is down a total of 43 pounds. She does ZumbaŽ, step aerobics and boot camp on a regular basis and has joined a gym. She now eats between 1,300 and 1,500 calories a day and continues to attend group sessions where she is weighed a few times a month. The National Weight Control Registry shows that long-term weight loss success is more achievable if a person can keep the weight off for at least two years. So, close accountability and support are crucial during this vulnerable time period.

Before she lost weight, McDaniel felt defeated and discouraged. Now that she has met her goal, she feels rejuvenated and empowered that her health and body have been restored.

"I try to replace the old thoughts with new ones," said McDaniel. "I'm making an investment in myself. This is my responsibility. This is a journey that doesn't stop. It's like going around the world. There is no end. It's about balancing everything."

Waldschmidt agreed that weight management is not a straight path, and obstacles and challenges are inevitable. "So we learn to adjust, cope, and get back up when we fall. This is what it means to successfully manage our weight."

McDaniel enthusiastically recommends Vista's OPTIFAST program to others because of the structure of the plan, especially in dealing with the mental aspect of weight management. "The best thing about the program was the support from the other clients during the special topics each week and the individual sessions with the dietitian," she said.

For more information about Vista's Weight Management Options and OPTIFAST programs, please contact Aileen Waldschmidt at 847-984-6557, or visit and enter "non-surgical weight loss."