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Monday, 09 September 2013 11:23

Interview with Albert Morales, by Dr. Farooq Ahmad

Written by  Farooq Ahmad
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Justo Albert Morales was a very obese person. At 385 pounds on a 5 ft-6 inches body, he was 225 pound above 160 pounds, the desired weight for his height. Albert's big body always made him stand apart from the crowd. Life was a total distress for him. Just a few minutes walking would exhaust Albert like anything. Doing a small job like tying up his shoe laces was a 'task' for him as his massive belly and thighs would not let him bend enough.

Thanks to Albert's successful weight loss with California Medical Weight Management, today Albert has lost 165 pounds and is confidently on his way to his target weight of 160 pounds. That whole misery he had is now part of his past. Albert who sat comfortably on the other side of my office table was entirely a different individual. In fact, had he not shown me his past photos, I would have found it hard to believe his words.

Still moderately obese (as he is still on his way until he achieves the desired 160 pounds), I found Albert an active and enthusiastic person. He talked at length, unfolding the story of his amazing success.

Here is how he narrated his success story:

Q. Your proud success is a real source of inspiration and a great example for many to follow. Tell us how did it start and how did you turn it around?

A. I had a bulky body for many years. I was significantly overweight and consequently less active while I was a high school student. Once I graduated, my physical activity decreased even further. That rapidly turned my overweight into real obesity. I always overate, and the foods I ate were pizzas, sweetened drinks and beverages, etc... all high-caloric, high-energy diets. My mom was always worried about my overeating but I couldn't help decrease my hunger. My stomach had become trained and expanded so much that it would not get filled with the amount of food that would fill a normal-weight person. As my mom's advice fell flat on me, she finally came up with a plan for me: "Albert! I can't let my son loose like that. Make a choice, my son. Surgery or a good weight-loss program." I was afraid of surgery so opted for the second choice.

Q. What did you think were the prospects for success when you joined California Medical Weight Management's weight loss program?

A. Truly speaking, I didn't have any high hopes about that. Reason: I already had tried two weight loss programs and the two of them did not work.

Q. At what point in time were you convinced this program is going to work for you?

A. It happened very quickly. I lost 11 pounds in just one week. That was a great encouragement. In the second week I lost another six pounds. This was the time I became convinced that this program is certainly different from others. Moving forward, I continued losing at an average 2-5 pounds a week. Sometimes the pace was slower but the satisfying thing was that I was continuously losing weight and I never regained the weight I lost once.

Q. What did you find in CMWM's program that was different from the ones you had already tried?

A. It was significantly different. Of the previous two, one focused on increasing physical activity alone and the second relied on diet alone. As I said, neither worked for me. This program prescribed medicine too. I think that made the difference.

Q. How did the program go once you started?

A. Having two weight loss programs fail on me, I was not hopeful about this and I started rather halfheartedly on my mom's push. But once started, the results really startled me. I lost 11 pounds in the first week, six pounds in the second and then the downward trend has continued until now. I started in September 2012 and until now I have already lost almost 165 pounds. So I lost an average 15 pounds a month. I never imagined this program would work that great.

Q. How do you look forward to achieving your target weight?

A. Seeing my success, I feel genuinely confident that I will be able to achieve it very comfortably and within due time.

Q. How has your weight loss affected your day-to-day life and feelings?

A. Strictly speaking, I only lost 160 pounds of weight. But the overall effect on my mind and life is tremendous. The program has really brought me back into life.

Q. Will you explain this a bit more, please?

A. Changes in terms of my overall life were many and wonderful. Previously people used to stare at me wherever I went. Obviously I took it on myself and confined myself to home unless it was absolutely necessary to go out. Not to say that people did or said anything bad to my face. But I could clearly feel the way people felt about me. Again, nothing bad on part of most people. But a sort of social stigmatization was there that only I could feel. Now I have made my entry into social life. I myself initiate talking with people and I am becoming more and more social.

As regards the program's apparent effects on my body, you can appreciate those by looking at my belt (at this point Albert untied his belt to let me see that). Previously my waist circumference was 60 inches, which has come down to 45 inches. All my clothes became so loose on me I had to buy new ones. However, I didn't change my waist belt and kept making new and new holes in it to fit my new waist size. It has almost 16 new holes. I still use the same old belt as it is a sign of pride for me.

I know being obese used to hamper my job seeking efforts a lot. Nobody wanted to hire me. Now my confidence level is great about that. I am confident I can now compete for any job. But I intend to first achieve my target weight before doing any job. Given my great success my father is now supporting me financially to help me take my weight loss program to its end.

Q. How does it affect your physical activity?

A. That has tremendously improved. Previously, walking for just a few minutes would exhaust me. Now I can exercise on an elliptical for as long as one hour and I am not exhausted even after that. As a routine, I do that for at least 30 minutes a day and I do it at a speed of one mile in ten minutes. So I do about three miles in my routine 30 minute exercise.

Q. What about the dietary changes?

A. The nutritionist gave me a clear dietary plan. It obviously aimed at cutting down high-caloric food like fat, starch, sweetened beverages and drinks, and substituting it with a low-calorie diet and lots of dietary fibers. The essential amount of calories my body needed was met by a special protein diet supplied by California Medical. These dietary changes obviously helped a lot. The bad effect I faced was with the use of protein diet was constipation, but thanks to the help of my nutritionist who suggested certain constipation-relieving diets, I was soon able to overcome that problem.

Q. And what about the medication and its effects on you?

A. The doctor prescribed me just one pill a day that I am using regularly since I joined the program in September of last year. I had a very positive effect on me. The medication finished my starving for all the unhealthy, high-energy, high-fat foods I used to consume. It also stopped me from overeating as well.

Q. Did you have to force yourself to bring out these changes in your eating habits? How do you like these changes?

A. No, I didn't have to force myself. It happened by itself with the effect of the medicine I was taking. There was no more craving for unhealthy diets so I didn't feel deprived of anything. About the new diets, I like them very much and I am very happy about that. I am a good cook and I prepare the new diets not only for myself but also for other family members too.

Q. Did the medicine have any unpleasant effects on you?

A. No I didn't feel anything unpleasant myself. Regarding the effects on my body systems, the doctor had been doing my blood tests on a regular basis and they had been absolutely normal.

Q. How did your family and relatives take your success?

A. My family, especially my mom, is extremely happy about it. Naturally I wanted people to know about my success. So I put my new photos on Facebook. Everybody commented they were very happy and surprised too. So I got a lot of appreciation and encouragement.

Q. Thank you very much Albert for taking time to talk to us. Your success is a source of inspiration not only for those who are overweight and obese but also for those who wish to achieve any big goal.

A. And I think you for inviting me to this conversation. I am happy to share my experience and feelings with you and the readers.


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