How Weight Loss Helped Craig Avoid Double Knee Replacement
Craig Ebner knew he had to lose weight. In fact, he’d tried many times, but it had begun to have a negative impact on his quality of life.
“Last Christmas, I was having terrible trouble with my left knee and got to the point that I was walking with a cane,” he said. “I couldn’t even get up the stairs.”
He went to his family doctor, which led to an x-ray, which led to a meeting with a Virtua Health orthopedic surgeon. Both knees were bone-on-bone and the surgeon said that while he wanted to perform surgery, Craig would need to go to physical therapy first to lose some weight.
A bit anxious, he enrolled in physical therapy and after the fourth or fifth session, his therapist made an observation that would change Craig’s mindset.
“He said, ‘You know, Mr. Ebner, I hope you’re not insulted but it’s my professional opinion that if you lost considerable weight you might not need two new knees,’ ” he said. Craig asked the therapist what he meant by considerable and he told him 50 pounds.
Craig shared this idea with the surgeon, asked him if he agreed and, if so, what his chances were.
“He said, ‘I’ll give you 20 percent,’” Craig said. “I said, ‘You’re on.’”
Craig made an appointment with Virtua Medical Weight Loss where he learned about a variety of options, from gastric bypass surgery to medication to curb his appetite to nutritional counseling. They created a personalized plan focused on meal replacements.
“At that point, I weighed about 260 pounds and we set a goal of 200,” he said. “I was doing two replacement shakes per day and then watching what I was eating for dinner and going to the weekly meetings.”
As he lost weight, he continued to visit his orthopedic surgeon.
“He asked how I was doing and I said, ‘so far, so good,’” Craig said. The surgeon was so pleased with his progress and while he said Craig might eventually need those two new knees, he released Craig from his care.
“He said he wanted me to do a lot of walking, so I got to the point where I do a mile in the morning and a mile before dinner with no problem,” he said. “I do power walking, and I feel great.”
Craig said the main thing he gained through the process were easy ways to maintain a healthy diet, something other plans had not provided.
“I tried one plan and found it tedious to count points for everything that went in my mouth,” he said. “And at Duke University I went on the rice crash diet, but I gained back all the weight because I didn’t have the tools to know how to keep it off.”
Through his work with Virtua Medical Weight Loss, he now has those tools. Initially, his personalized plan included meal replacement shakes for breakfast and lunch followed by a sensible dinner. Now, he said, he’s eating normally and using a combination of his new-found tools and making smart decisions.
“I learned that if your grandmother didn't serve it on the Sunday table you probably shouldn’t eat it,” he said. “I’ve become a careful reader of labels. If the food contains an ingredient that you can't pronounce, you don't want to eat it. And, I pay attention to serving sizes.”
That helps with another important tool.
“I’ve learned portion control,” he said adding that, in addition to reading labels for serving sizes, he also has a scale, measuring cups, measuring spoons, and a spray bottle of olive oil in his kitchen to help him keep those sizes in check. “And I pick and choose what calories I want to consume. I have to decide, do I want a huge amount of delicious roasted vegetables that are going to fill me up or a teeny tiny creampuff that’s not going to fill me up?”
Not only did the education process lead him to approach food selection and preparation in a different way, it introduced him to new foods. The combination of new tools and new foods led to a new lease on life.
“I eat food that’s delicious, and I have the tools to keep the weight off,” he said. “I’m no skinny-minnie, but the cane is gone, and I feel great.”
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Updated January 15, 2020