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June 21 2017

Weight management program helps nurse overcome health concerns

Illness, injury, stress and other life events can lead to weight gain which then becomes hard to turn around. It happens to a lot of people, and health care professionals are no exception.

When it happened to Ashley Nicola she made a pact with herself: After she graduated from college and before she became engaged to her longtime boyfriend, married and became pregnant, she would return to a healthy weight.

At 15 years old, Ashley was 5 feet, 6 inches tall and a very healthy weight. Without warning, she experienced a series of health issues that required medications including steroids and antibiotics. By age 18, she had gained more than 100 pounds.

Since then, the 25-year-old has lost 65 percent of the weight she had gained, which includes 41 percent over the past year as a ProHealth weight management services patient. She is well on her way to her goal weight.

“The Atkins diet worked for a while, but it was hard to make it a lifestyle,” said Nicola, a nurse for ProHealth Care. “I was thinking about joining Weight Watchers but then I saw that the ProHealth program had everything I needed: a doctor, nurse, nutritionist and behavioral therapist.”

She started working with the ProHealth weight management team in April 2016. They provided encouragement and practical assistance, including invaluable recipes and nutrition information. The team determined her recommended calorie level based on her resting metabolic rate.

“The ProHealth program is very holistic and personalized – and Dr. Julie Larsen is a great motivator,” Nicola said. “I started noticing that it was working relatively early because of the weight loss. I was losing a couple of pounds every week.

“I lost most of the weight by following a plan with a maximum of 1,600 calories a day, eating a Mediterranean diet, and cutting carbohydrates in exchange for vegetables, fruits and whole grains.”

Nicola is now engaged to her boyfriend of 10 1/2 years – and has already selected a dress for their June 2018 wedding.

“I’m waiting to order the size because I don’t know what it will be yet,” she said with a laugh.

Nicola said the ProHealth weight management program has improved her life and lifestyle in countless ways. She has:

  • Learned how to prepare and eat the right foods and portions.

  • Become more physically active than ever before.

  • Increased muscle and strength.

  • Reduced her blood pressure.

  • Stopped using an inhaler.

  • Improved her sleep patterns.

  • Reduced the potential for a high-risk pregnancy.

  • Significantly reduced her measurements and clothing size.

Two to three times a week for the past seven months, Nicola has been swimming or working out. She has also increased her recreational activities, and last summer enjoyed her first kayak outing. And she’s looking forward to a special trip that will include swimming, kayaking, hiking and riding a zip line.

“I can now do the physical things that people my age should be doing,” Nicola said. “Before I lost the weight I felt like I was losing my youth. Now I feel like I’m getting that back.”

To learn more about ProHealth Weight Management Services, call 262-820-3880 or visit ProHealthCare.org/WeightManagement.

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For more than a century, ProHealth Care has been the health care leader in Waukesha County and surrounding areas, providing outstanding care across a full spectrum of services. The people of ProHealth Care strive to continuously improve the health and well-being of the community by combining skill, compassion and innovation. The ProHealth family includes ProHealth Waukesha Memorial Hospital, ProHealth Oconomowoc Memorial Hospital, ProHealth Rehabilitation Hospital of Wisconsin, ProHealth Medical Group, the UW Cancer Center at ProHealth Care, Moreland Surgery Center, ProHealth AngelsGrace Hospice, ProHealth Home Care, ProHealth West Wood Health & Fitness Center and ProHealth Regency Senior Communities. Learn more at ProHealthCare.org.