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Sandra Hernandez, RN, BSN, Desk Nurse, Family Medicine, Berthelsen Main Campus

Do what you need to succeed

 

What began as a necessity for surgery became a slate of new, healthier life choices for Sandra Hernandez.
 
After her second baby, Sandra needed surgery for abdominal hernias. But first, her doctor’s orders were to lose weight. She switched to a keto diet, cutting out sugar and sodas, and dropped 40 pounds, enough to proceed with surgery. Eating healthier requires planning and organization, but Sandra is committed to keeping the weight off and dropping even more.
 
Tell us a little about your surgery.
I gained a lot of weight during my second pregnancy, and I didn’t drop it after the baby came. Everything about the pregnancy was normal, except I got an umbilical hernia. Then when they did surgery, they found two more hernias.
 
Your doctor told you that “baby fat” had to come off before you could have surgery. How did you accomplish it?
I went on a strict diet – cold turkey! I did a keto diet, which means high protein and low carbs. No sweets, no fried foods. I scheduled the surgery so that I had a deadline.
 
Easy or hard?
It was really hard at first. I had a lot of cravings for the things I gave up – but I kept pushing. I took all of the old food out of the house and cleaned the fridge to get the temptation away.
 
Did you do any exercise to help?
I couldn’t do much exercise because my abdominal muscles were separated. I tried to do more walking at work, but I was very restricted. Even lifting my baby was too much.
 
So you accomplished your goal and had the surgery -- and you haven’t looked back. How do you keep your focus?
It helps to be prepared, even though it’s a lot of work. We buy groceries every three weeks and freeze everything. I always have to take my lunch because there’s just too much temptation. I usually cook dinner and pack leftovers the next day.
 
Is it difficult to stick to your diet at work?
It helps that other people in the office do the keto diet too, but it’s still hard. I just have to stay away from birthday parties. I go for a few minutes to celebrate then head back to my desk.
 
What’s your biggest cheat?
Chili cheddar fries at our favorite wings place.
 
One of the main parts of your diet is keeping the carbs low. How do you manage that?
My body has adjusted now, so if I eat carbs I feel bad. I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding carbs, and I’ve learned some tricks, like low-carb tortillas and making cheesecake with almond flour.
 
You have two kids at home. How do you handle feeding them with your diet?
They usually eat the same things my husband and I do, but I sometimes make a make a carb for them, like macaroni and cheese.
 
What about sugar?
Sugar is like a drug. I don’t drink soft drinks, and the only fruits I eat are strawberries and blueberries because they have lower sugar.
 
What are your goals?
I’m pretty happy with my weight, and I just bought a lot of new clothes. But I know keeping it off will be the hard part. And I know I need to add more exercise.
 
Any pointers for people who want to get healthier?
Set a goal. Determine how much weight you want to lose, schedule a deadline, and write it on your calendar. Then stay on track.