Picture-Perfect Health

 OCH Patient Rose Buchanan shows off the dress she wore as a teenage and is determined to fit into a

OCH Patient Rose Buchanan shows off the dress she wore as a teenage and is determined to fit into a

Lifestyle changes lead to dramatic weight loss, transforming Rose Buchanan for the better.      

 Rose Buchanan in September 2017—a year before losing approximately 100 pounds.

Rose Buchanan in September 2017—a year before losing approximately 100 pounds.

 Rose Buchanan between OCH’s Danel Hoidal, CMA and Alyssa Sponhauer, NP-C.

Rose Buchanan between OCH’s Danel Hoidal, CMA and Alyssa Sponhauer, NP-C.

 Rose Buchanan expresses her relief in having lowered her blood pressure in spite of “White Coat Syndrome,” or having a rise in blood pressure whenever she visits a health care facility.

Rose Buchanan expresses her relief in having lowered her blood pressure in spite of “White Coat Syndrome,” or having a rise in blood pressure whenever she visits a health care facility.

Looking at Rose Buchanan today, you’d never guess that for 35 years, she struggled with chronic weight gain and related complications that potentially put her life at risk. Right now, this lifelong resident of The Dalles appears to be in perfect health.

In fact, pictured here, Rose holds a dress she personally sewed and could easily wear back in her “skinny days,” when she weighed a mere 120 pounds. Then came marriage and two pregnancies—and along with both births, an unexpected addition: approximately 60 pounds of fat she couldn’t shed no matter the diet she tried. Then to her horror, the scale kept creeping up.

“I was really unhappy,” says Rose. “It affects everything—the emotional and the physical, your life and your relationships. But my whole family is pretty stocky and chunky…so I figured that’s what I was going to amount to myself. It was just who I was, or how it was going to be.”

Then Rose got an invitation to attend TOPS Club Inc.®, a nonprofit that helps “Take Off Pounds Sensibly.” A little weary from seeing no results from other weight loss efforts, she didn’t quite take TOPS seriously at first. But a contest, offering to pay for her yearly membership if she lost the most weight over three months, sounded like a fun challenge. To her surprise, she won—and the timing couldn’t have been better.

A patient of One Community Health since the mid-1980s, Rose had more recently come to be under the care of Alyssa Sponhauer, NP-C. Alyssa had seen this patient for a number of weight-related conditions, everything from high blood pressure to fatigue, swollen ankles and near-debilitating joint pain, particularly in her knees.

“I was tired of being in pain,” Rose says. “Alyssa tends to do things the more natural way, not prescribing all kinds of pills unless you really need something.”

However, Alyssa (pictured here, far left) did prescribe high blood pressure medication—until, through the motivation inspired and maintained through TOPS, Rose dropped a significant number of pounds. Rose’s success, which started with that initial weight-loss contest, turned into a new way of life. She drastically transformed her eating and exercise habits, finding ways to increase her metabolism naturally through healthy diet habits that burned fat, boosted energy, relieved pain and eventually empowered Rose to let go of the blood pressure medication. She exercises regularly, knowing that just diet or exercise alone aren’t enough for sustainable change. Over the course of about a year, she dropped 90 pounds, down to about 130 in November 2018. And all along the way, Rose says she’s received the unwavering support of both Alyssa and primary care team members, particularly Danel Hoidal, CMA (pictured here, far right).

“They’ve both been awesome,” Rose says. “They don’t act like typical providers—they’re more like my friends. They give me hugs, encourage me, and have allowed me to track my own blood pressure at home. I’ve been able to show how my numbers are low, so I don't need the medication because, for some reason, I have white coat syndrome—my numbers always go up when I am at the doctor’s office.”

After some changes in her insurance policy, Rose worried she’d lose the ability to see Alyssa. She got very worried, wondering how she’d find another provider elsewhere—one who cared as much as Alyssa.

“Then I entered her name in again, and Alyssa’s name popped up under my coverage. I was like, ‘Thank God!’ I wouldn’t trade her for anything!”

As to that handmade dress—the one that fit Rose when she was just a teen—it’s likely not something she’d really wear around her hometown today. (She prefers her skinny jeans instead.) But Rose keeps the dress as a reminder of her goal, that unlike mere hope has become doable, thanks to her proven, personal commitment, the support of the team-based care at One Community Health, her friends at TOPS®, and the barrage of compliments from friends and family who can hardly believe that today’s Rose is their Rose.

“When I get into that dress—then I can stop,” Rose says, estimating she’ll be close to 120 pounds by then.

“It’s really about changing your environment, your diet and, really, your life history,” she says. “And now, I don’t get tempted. I exercise seven days a week on the track and when it’s cold, I do the treadmill inside. When people walk with me, they say, ‘Slow down!’ because I’ve got so much energy! But it’s just so exciting—I’ve worked hard at this, I’m determined…and now it really is paying off.”