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Moorhead, Minn. — Vanessa is a 28-year-old woman who has struggled with weight problems her entire life. She grew up in Wilmot, South Dakota, and says several members of her family have weight problems. Vanessa had tried diets with some success, but could never maintain the weight loss. In December 2000, Vanessa became ill and was taken to the hospital. Doctors told her she had passed a gallstone. They also told her she had type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.
Vanessa says the pain was so intense it made her realize she could die. It inspired her to lose her excess weight and keep it off. Over the last two years, Vanessa has lost more than 200 pounds, and is working toward losing another 50. She did it through what most would consider conventional means -- by reducing her calorie intake and establishing a rigorous exercise program.
Vanessa's story is unusual in that she has lost so much weight, and has been able to keep it off for more than two years. She attributes some of her success to supportive friends and co-workers, as well as her physician and dietitian.
Vanessa agreed to share her story with us through a series of "audio diary" entries. She asked, however, that we not use her last name.
Her physician, Dr. Deb Geier, talked to MPR's Bob Reha about treating Vanessa, and why she has been successful in losing a large amount of weight -- and keeping it off -- when so many others fail.
(To listen to Vanessa's diary entries, and her doctor's comments, click on the audio links in the right column)