I’m Training to Live Longer

Mercy Health Lifestyle Clinic patient Tammy Griswold shares how a little change has made big impact in her life.

Tammy Griswold had always struggled with her weight, so when her primary care physician, Nicholas VandenBosch, DO, mentioned he was helping to develop the Mercy Health Lifestyle Clinic, she said she’d give it a try. Griswold was among the first patients to sign up for the clinic, located in downtown Muskegon inside the PEAK Training Academy building.

The Lifestyle Clinic provides a structured program that includes medication, nutrition and exercise as a comprehensive strategy to address obesity and its related conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes elevated cholesterol, fatty liver, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

“I’m 60 years old, and I’ve decided that I need to be healthy. I’ve always been overweight, but I’ve told my kids that I’m going to live to be over 100 years old,” said Griswold.

Kamethia Wilson, Nicholas VandenBosch, MD; Kailee Conrad, RD 2VandenBosch & GriswoldGriwsold & ConradGriswold with WilsonStrengthening her armson the bikesGriwold's Before the clinic

Her family’s medical history has motivated Griswold to make significant changes. “Both my mom and dad had heart problems and diabetes, and my sister had heart problems and high blood pressure,” she explained. “My biggest goal was to not become diabetic.”

At her first appointment with VandenBosch at the Lifestyle Clinic in November 2017, lab results showed that Griswold had high blood pressure and was both pre-diabetic and morbidly obese.

The first goal she and VandenBosh set was to get Griswold moving. “Dr. VandenBosch began by trying to get me to exercise, and I said, ‘No, no, it’s not going to happen. I’m in no shape to exercise.’ But in the end, I went to exercise classes about twice a week,” she recalled. “Once I got going, I absolutely loved it.”

At that point, there was no mention of weight or changing her eating habits. The focus was to get Griswold’s lab numbers down first, trying to eliminate the need for medications and possible bariatric surgery. Weight loss would come later.

“Weight is just one of the several metrics we follow, with other markers being waist circumference, blood pressure, as well as cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Visualizing improvements in areas such as waist circumference helps patients see that change is occurring. If their pants are fitting better, change is on its way,” said VandenBosch.

The coaches at the Mercy Health Lifestyle Clinic developed a workout plan specifically for her. Griswold loves the fact that periodically she sees VandenBosch come to PEAK and work out with the class and also check in with her and her coaches.

“If our patients feel like they’re on their journey alone, our efforts will often be in vain,” said VandenBosch. “When I show up at the gym and put in the work with my patients, they know they have an advocate in their quest toward a healthier life.”

VandenBosh’s approach resonates with Griswold. “He is very patient, and he listens. Most important, he answers your questions. In the beginning, he said we’d start with baby steps, so he could find out what was and wasn’t working for me. I absolutely love that. What doctor takes the time to do that?

Griswold’s second checkup at the clinic was in February. Her test results were encouraging. “My blood pressure was down to 132/84, my glucose was down to 84 and my cholesterol also went down.” No longer pre-diabetic, she was thrilled with the direction her numbers were going.

At that point, Griswold’s new goal was to continue to exercise but also to watch her carbohydrate intake. “Many of the Lifestyle Clinic patients consult with Kailee Conrad, our clinic’s registered dietitian,” said VandenBosch. “Kailee and I work in collaboration to find what each patient needs, not apply a cookie-cutter algorithm to their diet.”

Due for her third follow-up soon, since reducing carbs, Griswold has lost 18 pounds and four inches around her waist. Formerly a size 14, she was thrilled about having to buy size 12 jeans. And now she goes to work out in group classes that she chooses three days a week. “If people want to go out after work when I’m planning to work out — and they suggest I skip my class — I say, ‘No, no, I don’t do that.”

VandenBosh’s patients in the exercise classes hold each other accountable and celebrate each other’s successes when they meet goals. “It’s important for me to meet people and to have that support. Now I can’t wait to go to class. I’ve raised my weights and even go on Saturdays if I miss during the week.”

Griswold has another amazing personal goal that involves the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan, an organization for which she has a passion: “If I can reach my goals and stay off my blood pressure medicine, I will try to get on the live-donor kidney list.”

With more energy and a reduced need for medications, Griswold is a fan of the Lifestyle Clinic. “I loved seeing the change in my body. I tell people, ‘Try it. It won’t hurt. There is no embarrassment, and Dr. VandenBosh will be right there with you.'”

Are you a candidate for the Mercy Health Lifestyle Clinic?

Individuals can join with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30+ and any of the following:

  • High or borderline high blood pressure
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Fatty liver
  • Diabetes or prediabetes
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
  • Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
  • Chronic kidney disease

Individuals can also join with a BMI of 40+ and none of the conditions above.

Take back control of your health with Mercy Health Lifestyle Clinic. We are enrolling patients now! Call 231.655.7075 to learn more.


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