Gabriel Mendes weighed over 300 pounds in the fall of 2001. He had been considering gastric bypass surgery when he learned about the Weight Management Program at The Miriam Hospital. Mendes was in graduate school at Brown University and the school's psychologist recommended the program to him as a possibly less drastic measure.
He only waited two weeks and in January of 2002 he began his first round of treatment in the program. Mendes started on the full fast program, which includes a liquid-only diet of 5 Optifast shakes a day. He was thrilled with the results and had lost more than 80 pounds by the beginning of summer. He took a research trip for school in the summer of 2002 and was unable to take part in the maintenance portion of the program. He was able to keep the weight off for more than a year through diligent eating and regular exercise. As a student without a car, he spent a lot of time biking around Providence to keep the pounds off.
In early 2004, Mendes had begun to regain some of the weight; he had bought a car and was in a new relationship. His lifestyle had become more sedentary and he was focused on the other parts of his life.
In late 2005, he came back into the program and has again lost 90 pounds and is working on maintaining all that he has accomplished.
Mendes explained that many times participants go through the program more than once to achieve their goals. He strongly believes in the tenets of the program, which have helped him to be successful.
The program has helped Mendes to identify behavior patterns that led to his weight gain and the maintenance portion of the program has helped him continue to not slip back into these patterns. He still attends meetings with others in the program and calls them, "a tethering force that keeps you connected to the skills and knowledge of the process."
Mendes explains how his whole entire life has changed. He was heavy since high school and continued to gain weight in college when eating in a cafeteria allowed him as much food and even more than he wanted or needed.
As Mendes describes his experience working through the different levels of the program, he explains how the program has forced him to develop a different relationship with food and to be more thoughtful and conscious about what he eats. Both exercise and keeping a written food diary are very important components for his continued success. He is very grateful for how supportive his family and friends have been through the entire process.
Mendes has found that he loves exercise now and has experienced an increased level of confidence in every area of his life. He is still the same person, but is enjoying "floating through life thinner." He found one of the most telling moments to be when he didn't dread the heat of summer and even describes experiencing weather differently because of his weight loss.
Today, Mendes continues to learn about what he needs to maintain his weight through his new relationship with food. He does allow room for a snack here and there, but knows he'll put a little more time and effort into exercise that day.
For information about weight management, contact the weight management program at The Miriam Hospital.