More than a Diet

in Health by

How Healthy Weight made a difference for local mom


By MARIE McADEN

Like so many Americans, Becky Salazar made it her New Year’s resolution to lose weight – year after year after year.

By all accounts, the Lady’s Island mother of two should be the picture of health. In her teenage years, she was a cheerleader, swam competitively, played soccer, volleyball and softball, and drilled with the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC).

At 26, she joined the U.S. Army, went to boot camp and continued to train regularly during her three years in the military. But despite all the physical activity, Salazar struggled to keep her weight within the Army’s allowable limit.

Things only got worse when she transitioned to civilian life and started working two jobs to help pay for the adoption of her daughters. While she remained active, her crazy schedule made it difficult for her to eat a healthy diet.

She tried several weight loss programs over a period of years but was unable to keep off the pounds. Frustrated by her unsuccessful endeavors, she gave up and surrendered to her cravings.

“I was the Dairy Queen queen,” she said. “I went there so often, they knew my order – medium Blizzard, extra Oreos and Butterfingers.”

The 5-foot-4-inch Salazar soon found herself at 211 pounds.

“I weighed more than my husband,” she said of her 5-foot-10-inch spouse. “That was the defining moment when I knew something had to change.”

Her primary care physician referred her to Beaufort Memorial Healthy Weight, a physician-supervised service to help overweight patients drop unwanted pounds and keep them off.

Led by board-certified obesity medicine specialist Dr. Yvette-Marie Pellegrino of Beaufort Memorial Lady’s Island Internal Medicine, the program is designed for patients who have a body mass equal to or greater than 25, and takes a holistic approach to weight loss, focusing on nutrition, exercise, behavior and medication.

At the start of the program, Salazar filled out a questionnaire on her eating habits and behavior with details about the methods she had undertaken to lose weight.

“I lost 30 pounds using an appetite suppressant,” the 44-year-old recalled, “but as soon as I stopped taking it I gained it all back and more.”

Weight Watchers proved no more successful.

After reviewing Salazar’s answers on her questionnaire, Dr. Pellegrino conducted a physical examination and biometric screening and ran her blood work. She asked her to track what she ate for two to three months using the free MyFitnessPal app.

Working with a certified dietitian, Pellegrino developed a meal plan tailored specifically for Salazar’s busy work schedule and home life. She also put her on Vyvanse, a drug used to treat binge-eating disorders.

“Obesity is a disease like any other medical condition,” Dr. Pellegrino said. “There are medications you can use to treat it.”

As soon as she started taking the meds, Salazar noticed a big difference in her eating habits.

“Making healthy choices didn’t seem difficult anymore,” she said. “Chick-fil-A was no longer appealing.”

She still enjoys going out to dinner on occasion but pays attention not to overeat. As part of the program, she also exercises regularly. If she can’t fit in a workout, she balances it by reducing her calories for the day.

“Life is going to happen,” Salazar said. “Schedules will change, loss happens, sickness, challenges, highs and lows and everything in between, including holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and more.”

Since she started the Healthy Weight program last February, Salazar has lost 45 pounds. Her goal for 2020 is to run a half-marathon and participate in a mini triathlon.

“The program has done so much for me,” Salazar said. “I feel like I have my life back.”

To learn more about the Healthy Weight program, call Beaufort Memorial Lady’s Island Internal Medicine at 843-522-7240 or visit BeaufortMemorial.org/HealthyWeight.

Above: Healthy Weight patient Becky Salazar with Dr. Yvette-Marie Pellegrino, who runs the medically supervised weight loss program at Beaufort Memorial Hospital.