Abagail with Mom

Abigail With Mom

“Abbie has worked very hard since we started this journey …”

– Susanne, “Mom”

Well what do you know, Abbie likes green beans!

But only if her Aunt Michele makes them.

“She seasons them and puts in just a little bit of butter,” said the 12-year-old Abbie, a girl from Middle River with a weakness for chocolate, preferably a Kit Kat or a Snickers.

[Note to Abbie from Aunt Michele: that’s not butter from a cow, hon, its “Butter Buds” substitute seasoned with salt-free Mrs. Dash and some adobo, all mixed together for a long simmer.]

Trading candy for green beans, broccoli and carrots is not defined for Abbie as a diet. The "lifestyle change" began during her annual pre-school physical last summer when the 5’6” middle-school student weighed in at 248 pounds.

Her mother was distressed - it was the most weight Abbie ever carried and the gains seemed sure to continue - and the pediatrician was alarmed. When Susanne asked the doctor to suggest a nutrition regimen for Abbie, he recommended Weigh Smart® at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital, a program designed for children between the ages of 2-and-17.

This led to twice-a-week, two hour sessions for two months (Abbie graduated from the program in mid-March) and a bump in the family's grocery bill.

Susanne, a 38-year-old child care provider, accepts the higher food budget as the cost of “making sure your kid doesn’t suffer.” Fresh green beans cost more than potato chips, which are now off the shopping list along with snack cakes. Whole wheat bread and whole wheat pasta have replaced white.

“When you use the word diet all people really hear is ‘no’ – they just think about all the things they have to give up,” said Susanne, who has struggled with weight most of her life. Abbie said her father’s side of the family also tends to be heavy.

“My goal is to be healthier, not just reach a certain weight,” said Abbie, “I haven’t had to give up my favorite stuff completely. I just can’t have it all the time or eat a lot of it at one time.”

Abbie works to incorporate what she learned into a change of lifestyle geared to more than the arithmetic of weight loss: nutrition, exercise and the self-esteem that comes from feeling good.

“When I first started I just wanted to look better,” said Abbie, who lost about 19 pounds in her eight weeks at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital with a significant dip in her Body Mass Index from 40.7 to 37.7.

“Now it’s more about how I feel about myself,” she said. “Being healthier has made me happier.”

Thoughtful, well-spoken and not officially a teenager until early October, Abbie said she has felt older than her years for some time. A lover of books, enrolled in her school's Gifted and Talented curriculum, Abbie’s world revolves around her friends. She admits to a reluctance to follow her mother’s rules, simple things like doing the dishes and cleaning her room.

But Abbie has never pushed back against the demands of the Weigh Smart® program. Now that she has completed the program – which includes exercise, group therapy, classes on stress and bullying along with homework - just might save her life.

“I like the program,” said Abbie, who now moves better, is less apt to get out of breath during simple activities and enjoys a lower heart rate. "So I go along with the rules."

To schedule outpatient appointments or learn more about our programs, call us at 410-367-2222.