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Marj Kuhn

Small Steps Lead to Weight Loss

Holy Name Patient Stories - Marj Kuhn

Marj Kuhn was flipping through photos, reliving a good time she had at a recent lobster-fest with her sister's and niece's families. "Wow, that is a really bad angle – I look fat," she thought, looking at one of the shots. Within minutes, she realized it wasn't the angle, she had put on some weight. Again.

Fluctuating pounds on the scale were part of Marj's life. She had tried every possible diet; limiting food groups and weighing each morsel of food. She even turned to diet pills, which she believes led to serious side effects.

"When I started my latest diet plan, where I was going to buy all the meals and snacks, my niece went ballistic. She was concerned for my health and asked how long I was going to try all these crazy diets," Marj, 75, said. "I knew she was right, so I called my doctor."

Marj, from Cliffside Park, went to see Dr. Steven Welish, who specializes in cardiology and internal medicine at Holy Name. After doing some blood work and other health assessments, a nurse practitioner in the office recommended that Marj meet with Debbie Bessen, a registered dietitian and Holy Name's Nutrition Outreach Manager.

"Debbie took her time explaining everything and didn't put me on a diet," Marj said. "Instead, she put me on track to eat healthy. We never even talked about weight, the emphasis was on better health."

Marj was a self-described diet Coke fiend, downing four to five cans a day. She also ate a lot of diet foods, though none provided good nutrition. She spoke at length with Debbie, first in-person and then through follow-up emails and phone calls. Debbie encouraged a lifestyle change, accomplished in small increments.

While Marj was in relatively good health, she learned ways to improve her nutrition, like eating beef sparingly. She also pivoted from her Massachusetts upbringing and slowed down on the shellfish, increasing her salmon intake instead.

"I've learned to eat in moderation," Marj said. "That's been the biggest change. Instead of two servings, I eat one. I don't eat a half a loaf of bread while I'm waiting for dinner."

Marj also weaned herself off diet soda, which she said she doesn't even miss. Instead, she makes frequent treks to the refrigerator door for glasses of cold water. On other nutrition fronts, she found cauliflower pasta covered in tasty sauce is a healthy alternative and doesn't taste any different than regular pasta. And whole wheat wraps are just as satisfying as white flour ones.

Nearly six months after meeting with Debbie, Marj is down 30 pounds. But more importantly, she said, she feels healthier.

"This is the end of yo-yo dieting," Marj said. "It's not part of my life anymore. Those diets where you lose 10 pounds in a week and then gain 12 back, that's not the way to do it. Moderation and eating healthier foods are so much better. I recommend anyone trying to get healthy call the nutrition department at Holy Name and make an appointment."