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Success Story:Partnership Between Patient and Doctor



Dr. Drabick(Raleigh,NC)

Starting Weight: 336 pounds

Current Weight: 224 pounds

Total weight lost: 112 pounds*

*In a CMWL multicenter randomized trial involving 550 patients who followed a CMWL Low-Calorie Diet (LCD) or Modified LCD Program, both with and without appetite suppressants, the average weight loss was 2 pounds per week over a 12-week period. The research was wholly funded by an independent third party with the exception of travel expenses. According to a study published in The American Journal of Medicine, participants completing a 12-week medical weight loss program lost 11.1% of their body weight, on average. Results may vary.


"I feel that the best part of losing weight is that my family and close friends don’t worry that I will not be with them much longer."

In May 2009, I fell and fractured my arm and tore my rotator cuff. I was on workers’ compensation which left me at home with nothing to do but eat. In two months, I gained 20 pounds. My friends were alarmed and encouraged me to see my doctor. 

Dr. Drabick had been my primary physician for two years. We had discussed weight issues many times, but I was not able to comply with his suggestions. Dr. Drabick told me that he had opened The Center for Medical Weight Loss (CMWL) as part of his practice and invited me to come for an intake interview to see if it was something that might be helpful.

When I went for the interview, I was totally hopeless about my ability to lose weight. I had to give my weight loss history, which was basically a list of my failures – 57 years’ worth of failure.

I started to cry, which is not an easy thing for me. Dr. D reached over and patted my hand and said, “Do this, Joanne. You are worth it.” I feel like that was the beginning of our teaching partnership. He inspired me to hope again. 

Trying Other Weight Loss Programs 

I am the Guinness Book of World Records winner for the woman who has tried the most diets! Well, I could be…. 

When I was eight, my doctor put me on diet pills; my mom and I went to TOPS (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly) at our local hospital; I tried Weight Watchers, at every phase of their program; Optifast; Duke Diet and Fitness Center, twice; another one, I can’t remember the name, that focused on high protein/low carb; The Dannon Yogurt diet; Atkins; Ayds candy diet; Sugar Busters; South Beach; and the ever popular grapefruit diet (remember that one?!). 

Joanne’s Weight Loss Journey 

Have you ever been on a train? That’s what it is like for me. I had to make an initial investment in my ticket to my destination by buying two tickets because I did not fit in one seat. I boarded the train with shame, loneliness, lack of hope, anger at myself, and self-consciousness.>  

I was not looking forward to the trip, because I had to change trains many times and drag my baggage from one place to another. I was not even sure I wanted to get to my destination. I had never been there for very long and had doubts about the trip being worth it. 

During the trip, people offered me snacks that I had to say no to at least 50 times. There was a woman on the train selling Girl Scout cookies! What other deterrents would this adventurer have to face? 

Because of my fear of train rides, the kindly staff (Sarah, Roberta, Emily) introduced me to the conductors (Dr. D and Marci), who gave me information about the train ride. They even asked me what I needed to know that would lessen my fear of trains. I had never met conductors who took that kind of time with me. 

The kindly staff worked with me to supply hardy snacks (Janet) and the co-conductors (Monika and Shenette) gave me information about the nourishing parts of a train ride. They pointed out that I could walk if I got nervous and get a sleeper car if I was tired. They even had a massage therapist and counselor on board that helped me relax when I felt panicky. 

There will be another train coming that will take me further. When I step up to the platform this time, I may not be so afraid.

How CMWL Helped Me

As a person with an eating disorder, I have learned to lie to myself and deny my needs. I am always afraid of being judged and am very sensitive to verbal as well as non-verbal rejection. The key to change is to go back down into the data and pull up new information. If the team around me is accepting, I can mobilize that data and make it my own. The way my doctor did that was to communicate joy about my successes and gentleness with my struggles. In turn, I find it easier to be gentle with myself and recognize my positive changes. 

Dr. Drabick is a resource person to me in finding competent professionals who can assist me in my own holistic healing. He has referred me to other doctors, therapists, exercise professionals, and others who have sensitivity to my disorder and a connection to the CMWL program. I always feel confident that the people my doctor refers me to are people who have an integrity about how they practice. This eliminates me having to search for people that can assist me in my journey. I can use the time for healing instead of worrying. 

Joanne’s Biggest Weight Loss Challenges 

The biggest challenge for me is to learn to deal with my feelings without comforting myself with food. My team at the Center is so patient and supportive; they stick with me through all the ups and downs. I treasure them. 

Just recently, my friend Teresa and I took a trip to the mall. Midway through our time together, she turned to me and said, “Do you realize this is the first time I have been able to shop with you?” She had tears in her eyes. Prior to going to CMWL, I could not walk more than three steps without stopping to get my breath. 

I feel that the best part of losing weight is that my family and close friends don’t worry that I will not be with them much longer. Several of them have commented that they were afraid I was going to die. That is very powerful to me—to know they have one less thing to worry about. 

I am taking lower doses of my blood pressure meds and diabetes 2 meds. When I get to goal, I am sure I will be off of them completely! Dr. Drabick is also very happy about the medical improvements! 

In every other weight loss program, the program ended when I reached my goal or I have neglected to take advantage of maintenance services. I just wanted to be “done” with my eating disorder. Now, I know that I will always need support to stay healthy. Because CMWL is an individualized program, they always tailor the program for my current needs. Right now, I am committed to working with my team for long-term success!

A CMWL-Patient Partnership That Works 

Dr. Drabick and I have coined a term we call teaching partnerships. We define it as follows: 

A dynamic relationship between physicians and patients that values a willingness to teach and learn from one another; creates a safe haven for open exchange; provides a structure and format for honest feedback; and initiates collaborative action for healthy lifestyle changes.

There will always be professionals who are fearful of asking patients to be part of helping them solve the puzzle. This is true in every profession. As a social worker, I have been an advocate for partnerships between families and social workers for most of my 36-year career. It is amazing how much it is seen as "treason!" In 1975, when family-centered practice started, I was part of the change-management team that promoted it in Florida. It took us years to deal with the fears people have about partnering – and we still deal with it in every training we do. However, I have always thrived on being a pioneer for working together with heart as well as mind.

So, being on the consumer end of my partnership with Dr. Drabick and his team has been an interesting journey for me. I just told Dr. D that it is true that we teach what we most need to learn. I teach others to reach out and overcome fear, and that is what I am working on when dealing with my eating disorder.

In many ways, I feel like my journey is just beginning! I am just starting back on one meal a day with supplements the rest of the day. I call it phase two of my journey – the final phase is getting to goal and maintaining it! This is the hardest part for me. Every other weight loss program has lessened their services when I got to goal. CMWL stays with me through it all, listens

After years of putting myself down and feeling judged for my weight issues, I can stand up and say, “I deserve to be part of a team that values my contributions and listens to my needs.” It is very empowering.

Joanne's Weight Loss Success Tips

Favorite CMWL Product:I love the crunchy bars because I get my chocolate every day!

Top Tip to Stay Motivated:Laugh till you cry and cry till you laugh! Laughter is a great healer.

What I Like Best About CMWL:CMWL’s uniqueness is the philosophy of partnership, teaming, individualizing the program, and giving physician and patient time to develop all of the above. Finally, a weight loss program that embraces those values! CMWL is a true innovator and I am proud to support their efforts.

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