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Weight Management Center helps patient shed pounds, change habits

by Caroline Altman
Public Relations

Clinton Terrell did his normal walk from his car to his job, but realized he could barely breathe from the exertion. He had hit rock bottom. It was time for a change.

Terrell weighed 491.2 pounds.

Clinton TerrellClinton Terrell's starting weight was 491.2 pounds.

At this moment, he called his mother. "We are either going to figure out something to do or we are going to start making plans for the hole in the ground," he said.

Terrell thought of an acquaintance who lost a massive amount of weight with the MUSC Weight Management Center, and he set up an appointment to join the HealthFast program.

Terrell joined the 30-week program, which was designed for patients who need to lose more than 50 pounds. The program focuses on lifestyle and behavioral changes and is divided into two phases.

The first 12 weeks, considered the fasting phase, allowed Terrell to only have supplemental shakes and bars to focus on a low calorie diet. The latter 18 weeks had Terrell gradually adding low-calorie food back into his diet and learning to maintain healthier eating patterns.

Terrell went to the gym five to six times a week. He ran on the elliptical trainer for 30 to 35 minutes averaging four and a half to six miles and lifted weights for the next 15 to 20 minutes. He also incorporated crunches and pushups. The weight management staff monitored him and other patients during weekly clinic visits and group meetings. The team consisted of physicians, nurses, psychologists, registered dietitians and exercise physiologists.

Terrell joined the HealthFast program at the MUSC Weight Management Center and lost over half of his body weight within a year. For information on the Weight Management Center visit or call 792-2273.

During the meetings and visits, Terrell was nicknamed the Golden Child, because of his dedication to the program. He followed all the rules, and even planned his single cheat—a small slice of his own birthday cake.

Although he could have opted for surgery, Terrell turned it down because he felt like it was a bandage to the real problem. He came to MUSC to learn lifestyle changes for permanent weight loss. "They taught you how to go through your life, and continue to keep and build good habits."

Clinton Terrell points to the magic number, 274.1. This is the number of pounds that he lost through the Weight Management Center's HealthFast program.

Terrell's dedication to himself and the program has paid off, said Joshua Brown, Ph.D., director of clinical services for the Weight Management Center. "Although we have lots of patients who do very well, in my time here, I've not seen anyone take off as much so quickly and do so without surgery."

Although Terrell said the hardest part of his losing weight was making the decision to join HealthFast, another tough part was the transition from supplemental bars and shakes to real food. Today he leaves his home with a small cooler filled with his portioned food for the entire day.

Terrell said he was very nervous about telling people he was trying to lose weight because he was afraid to fail. However, telling people kept him accountable and motivated.

When he shared his goal, his family and coworkers were very supportive. Without him asking, Terrell's mother had discarded all of the food in the house when he decided to lose weight so he wouldn't be tempted. His coworkers decided to not have potluck holiday dinners because Terrell couldn't eat them.

Terrell remembered what it was like to be obese only a year ago. It had gotten so bad that for more than a year before his weight loss, the only way he could sleep was sitting up. "I would sleep sitting up on the couch, sitting up on the bed, on the floor propped up against the bed, or in a chair. That's how bad it literally was."

Terrell said he was very unhappy and depressed. He knew he was missing out in life because his size limited the things he could do. Going out was depressing, so he went home and ate with the phrase 'I'm unhappy so I eat, and then I'm unhappy because I ate' echoing in his head.

Today, the sky is the limit for Terrell, literally.

He used to fear flying, not wanting to sit in an airplane seat, but he has no such fears now, because Terrell lost 274 pounds—over half of his starting weight—in a year without surgery. Now Terrell can't wait to fly in a plane, and even dreams of jumping out of one.

Terrell also celebrates that he can shop at regular stores for clothing. He was thrilled that he found jeans in his size on a clearance rack. "There is no clearance rack when you are wearing a size 54 jeans. You just pay for them," he said.

He has a blast doing new activities simply because he can finally do them. Recently, he learned to ride his friend's motorcycle because he couldn't do it last year. Since then, Terrell has decided he liked it so much he wanted one. His new lease on life brought on playing with his nieces and nephews, going for bike rides, walks and runs, and ocean cruise plans with his sister.

Terrell said he learned how to fuel his body for energy, not to mute emotions. He sees the difference he made not just in his life but others' as well. Not only has he inspired others to participate with MUSC's Weight Management Center, but his sister was motivated, too. Family dinners at Terrell's house are now healthy, and he tries very hard to teach his young niece healthy habits, "one vegetable at a time."

For information on the Weight Management Center visit

Weight Management Center has services for all weight loss needs

  • First Step: A 15-week lifestyle change program that offers weight loss assistance through individual weekly meetings. It is appropriate for people of all weight ranges. The program helps you make changes in activity level, eating practices, and other behaviors related to weight control. Individual meal plans and exercise plans are included at the outset. First Step promotes a significant yet gradual and long-lasting weight loss.
  • Focus: A 15-week intensive lifestyle change program designed to induce larger initial weight losses than traditional lifestyle change programs. Patients attend brief individual appointments that rotate among the clinic sub-specialties (nutrition, exercise, behavioral). The early part of the program involves a diet that consists primarily of meal replacements and provides a highly structured dietary intervention. During the latter part of the program, the diet changes to a primarily food based meal plan and shifts towards more moderate weight loss. Individualized dietary and exercise planning is provided throughout the program.
  • HealthFast: This 30-week program, designed for people who need to lose more than 50 pounds, combines medically supervised supplemented fasting with instructions in lifestyle change techniques to help participants make the lifestyle changes necessary to maintain a healthier weight. HealthFast offers a more rapid, but safe rate of weight loss for people with more weight to lose.
  • Lunchtime Losers: A 10-week program that takes place from noon to 1 p.m. Lunchtime Losers is intended to teach participants how to make healthy behavior changes that will promote healthy eating, healthy exercise, and weight loss. Participants meet weekly in a class format with a registered dietitian, psychologist, or exercise physiologist.
  • PREOP: Patient Readiness and Education for Obesity surgery Program (PREOP) is a six-month program designed to educate and prepare people who are considering weight loss surgery. This comprehensive program is physician-monitored and includes regular dietary, exercise, and psychological instruction and support.
  • Individual Services: In addition to weight management package programs, individual services and clinical trials also are offered. Call 792-2273.


Friday, Aug. 17, 2012

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.