Name: Emilia Martinez
My routine checkup turned out to be one of the most embarrassing yet motivating moments of my life. My doctor looked at my chart and said, "I think the nurse made a mistake. I'll have her weigh you again."
I guess I hide my weight well, but there was no mistake: I weighed 209 pounds. Feeling incredibly embarrassed, I had to tell him that the numbers were correct. He ordered some blood work. I found out that I have hypothyroidism, a condition that slows my metabolism down to below normal levels. I also had high liver enzyme levels, so we did further tests determine the culprit.
I had the beginnings of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), meaning my liver was overwhelmed and storing fat in its cells which was damaging it. Apparently, NAFLD is on the rise in the United States, just like diabetes and heart disease. I was scared.
I had failed every time I tried to lose weight for vanity, but this was about my health, so now it was serious.
I found out refined sugars are the main cause of NAFLD because the liver can turn sugar into fat for storage. I once saw a BBC program where the doctor called regular soda "full-fat soda," which I think is a pretty accurate description.
To lose weight, I cut most refined sugars out of my diet, controlled portions and exercised. I gradually increased my cardio capacity by walking and riding my bike, and I got hooked on hiking. I hiked the same hills as John Muir more than 100 years ago, because I live in Martinez.
It was like being a kid again, exploring the wilderness. The Bay Area has amazing trails! And the best part? There's always another trail to explore. I didn't let my brain make excuses for not going, though sometimes I tried.
There is no "quick fix" or "magic pill." It just takes determination. It took 10 months. I lost 43 pounds and dropped four dress sizes. I'm 39 years old, 5 feet 11 inches and now weigh 166 pounds. My liver enzymes are back in the normal range, and I remain active and have taken up running. I've kept the weight off for two years. I feel that if I could get down to a healthy body mass index (BMI) with good old-fashioned "eating less and exercising more," anyone can do it.
Have you lost a significant amount of weight, or did you finally lose those stubborn last 10 pounds? If so, we'd like to hear your story. Tell us in 400 words or fewer about your weight-loss journey. Send your stories to email@example.com with the subject line "weight loss story." Include your name, age and city and a contact phone number. Also, send before and after pictures in JPG format, if available.