April 29, 2019
Lynn Fender, 66, has bounced from one size to another many times during her adult life. At 5’4” tall, she has weighed as much as 212 pounds and as little as 110.
In addition to weight, Lynn also struggles with two serious health problems: congestive heart failure and an autoimmune disorder. Her conditions and the medications required to treat them contributed to her weight gain.
In 2017, Lynn reached a point of desperation. She couldn’t climb the stairs in her 3-story farmhouse. She couldn’t walk to the beach during trips to Florida. She couldn’t believe she was wearing size 24 blue jeans.
“Finally, I decided I had had enough,” she recalls.
Reaching out for help
Lynn started by asking her pulmonologist, Mark J. Hamblin, MD, for advice. He told her about the weight-loss program offered by The University of Kansas Health System. She called and set up a consultation.
Next, Lynn met with internist and weight-management specialist, Sarah Stolte, MD.
“We help many patients who have medical conditions that make it seem impossible to lose weight,” explains Dr. Stolte. “Lynn had tried to diet on her own, but she needed professional support.”
September 2017 weigh-in: 212 pounds
At her first class, Lynn met fellow participants who would soon come to feel like family. There were men and women of all ages, employed and retired individuals, people with all kinds of health issues.
Only one thing set Lynn apart. She drove 2 hours for the weekly sessions.
“I live on a farm in Jamesport, Missouri,” says Lynn. “I don’t mind the drive. Usually I spend the night with my daughter who lives in Kansas City.”
For those who can't travel to one of the program locations in Kansas City, Lawrence or Shawnee, there are alternatives. The program offers online classes, clinic appointments or phone-in sessions.
The weight-loss team works diligently to tailor the program for each participant. They use a combination of proven weight-loss tools, including supplements, prepackaged meals, one-on-one counseling, physical activity, medications and weekly education.
December 2017 weigh-in: 158 pounds
By Christmas of 2017, Lynn had lost 54 pounds. According to Dr. Stolte, program participants can expect to lose at least 10% of their weight in 10 weeks.
“I was never hungry. And I never cheated,” Lynn says. “The team leaders and classmates encouraged me every step of the way. There was no negativity.”
The weight-loss team also monitored Lynn’s health. They weighed her in private, checked her blood pressure and heart rate, and paid close attention to side effects.
“Our primary goal is to get people off that up-and-down journey with weight,” stresses Dr. Stolte. “We provide effective tools and help participants become more comfortable with their bodies.”
March 2018 weigh-in: 131 pounds
The more weight Lynn lost, the more active she became and the better she felt.
“At first, I couldn’t walk 1,000 steps a week,” remembers Lynn. “With the weight off, I could handle 10,000 steps a day. Sometimes, 20,000! I wasn’t out of breath and didn’t have to sit down all the time.”
According to Dr. Stolte, there’s a complicated relationship between obesity and health.
“Obesity doesn’t necessarily cause high blood pressure, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, pulmonary disorders, liver disease or musculoskeletal problems,” she explains. “However, most of these conditions tend to improve with weight loss.”
June 2018 weigh-in: 110 pounds
After losing more than 100 pounds, Lynn had the energy to do everything she wanted. One of her passions is helping young people in her hometown.
Four years prior, Lynn and a friend started serving free, daily lunches to kids during the summer. The two women bought, cooked and served food at the local fire station. Their grassroots program became so popular, the townspeople now donate money to pay for the meals.
“When I was heavy, my 85-year-old partner did more work than me at those lunches,” says Lynn. “Now I can keep up with her!”
December 2018 weigh-in: 117 pounds
More than a year after joining the weight-loss program at The University of Kansas Health System, Lynn continues to maintain a healthy weight.
“This program will work for anybody,” raves Lynn. “Doesn’t matter if you have 30 or 100 pounds to lose. The weekly meetings keep you accountable. The prepackaged meals make it easy. But doing it with a team of people really makes all the difference.”
Lynn still has some personal limitations due to her heart condition, but her quality of life has improved dramatically.
“I recommend this program to anyone who wants to lose weight,” she shares. “I would have paid a million dollars for it.”