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Success and the road ahead: Dr. Dan Hamrick on his dramatic weight loss

 

By David Freeze for the Salisbury Post

Weight loss is on the minds of many, particularly as spring arrives. Healthy Rowan estimates that about 67% of local residents are overweight. Many have battled the extra weight through cycles of diets that worked briefly and then the weight came back. A long time veteran of those battles, China Grove dentist Dr. Dan Hamrick finds himself in a good place and with a plan for the future. Here is his story.

Dan said, “I have always been on the large side of the spectrum. I was 6’ tall and weighed 210 pounds in the eighth grade. In high school, I was 6’ 4” tall and weighed 225 pounds as a three sport athlete and always active. I was able to maintain my weight because of that activity level. On a University of North Carolina football scholarship, my activity level remained high with my playing weight at 240 pounds.”

After college, Dan attended dental school and remained active thru jogging and playing sports with friends. At dental school graduation, his weight had crept to 260 lbs. Dan said, “When I moved to China Grove, I continued to jog and work out but as my activity level decreased, my weight continued to slowly climb. I did not adjust my eating habits and added weight until I was over 300 pounds.”

Practicing dentistry in China Grove since 1981, Dan said, “I enjoy working with my hands and helping people and dentistry gave me the opportunity to do both. Also, Dr. Harold Thompson, my dentist while growing up in China Grove and who practiced for over 40 years, was an inspiration for me.”

As his practice grew, so did Dan’s body size. A cycle of dieting and weight loss followed by a return to bad eating habits began. Over the years, Dan tried many diets. He said, “They would help me lose a fast 20 or 25 pounds but were not sustainable for long periods of time and would result in my gaining all the weight back with usually an additional five pounds.”

When Dan turned 40, he went over 350 pounds and began having some serious health issues associated with weight.  High blood pressure and cholesterol levels, blood sugar nearing pre-diabetic levels and chronic lower back pain all became issues.

In 2001, Dan, at 46 years old, decided to join Weight Watchers. Over the next year, he lost 100 pounds, averaging two pounds a week. His weight dropped from 378 to 278 pounds and Dan thought he had it figured out. He stopped attending the meetings and tried to maintain the weight loss on his own.

Dan said, “I slowly went back to my old eating habits and started gaining the weight back. I gained 20 pounds a year over the next five years and ended up pushing 400 pounds. Over the next decade, I hovered around 400 pounds while losing weight multiple times and gaining it all back again.”

Then in 2017 things changed. Dan’s daughter Mckenzie gave birth to their first grandchild, Audrey. He said, “I began taking a serious look at my health. A physical in December revealed my blood sugar had reached the diabetic level and my primary care doctor said it was time to start medication for diabetes. I decided it was also time to re-evaluate my life. I joined Weight Watchers again with a different approach. It was no longer a diet but a lifestyle change to become healthier.  Weight Watchers teaches a way of life, providing the tools to successfully navigate the pitfalls of overeating and to help maintain a healthy lifestyle.”

As a result, Dan’s weight dropped from 393 pounds on January 2, 2018 to 263 pounds on February 25, 2019. His shirt size dropped from 6XL to 2XL while his waist dropped from 58 inches to 44. Dan said, “That’s 130 pounds! My blood sugar is normal for the first time in 20 years without medication and I went from taking three blood pressure medications a day down to just one. My lower back does not hurt anymore and my cardiologist was able to do ablation to correct my atrial fibrillation.”

Dan’s plan for 2019 is to not gain any weight back and if he loses more, then he will be happy with that too. He said, “If I can keep the weight off, then I will be happy. In the past, I would always regain the weight and am determined to not let that happen this time. I intend to continue attending Weight Watchers workshops and use that accountability to help maintain my new lifestyle. I feel I can maintain this new approach for the rest of my life and stay healthy. Most people are surprised and excited about what I have been able to accomplish, and all are very encouraging. My wife has been very involved in this process and although she has never had a weight problem, she goes to the meetings with me and has been a tremendous supporter of my new journey. Her encouragement and her prayers have been my anchor this past year.”

Dan concluded, “I am now 64 years old and feel the best I have in years. I am much more active now and able to do a lot of things that I was avoiding before.  I do more around the yard without getting tired and I plan to play more golf. My lower back is the best it’s been in 15 years. My daughter and granddaughter are two of the reasons I did this, they deserve to see me healthy and active.”

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