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Pediatrician sheds 80 pounds by embracing healthy habits

Food

Pediatrician sheds 80 pounds by embracing healthy habits

Food Dr. Lucretia Carter

Tidelands Health pediatrician Dr. Lucretia Carter has lost 80 pounds – shattering her initial goal of 30 pounds.

While many people were splurging on a Thanksgiving feast and holiday treats in 2020, Dr. Lucretia Carter was doing just the opposite.
She had just started a program to get healthier and in shape. That meant more exercise and not indulging like most of us do during the festive season.
“I don’t know why I thought during the holidays was a good time to start it,” Dr. Carter says, chuckling at the challenge she unintentionally added to her quest to live healthier. “I was very resistant in my mind. I thought, ‘I’ll do this for eight weeks then I’ll go back to enjoying my food.’”
But after losing 20 pounds in the first month then another nine after the next four weeks – despite the temptations of the holidays – the pediatric medical director at Tidelands Health found extra motivation to keep going.
A little more than a year later, Dr. Carter has shed 80 pounds – shattering her initial goal of losing 30 pounds – and has made an hour of exercise on her stationary bike and healthy eating part of her lifestyle.
“My day doesn’t get started until I ride. I put it back in my daily routine,” the 47-year-old Murrells Inlet resident says. “I had to find something for me or a system that could work for me. Now, it’s such a part of my day. I feel like I’m back to my old self in a lot of ways.”

Getting started

For years, Dr. Carter’s hectic schedule derailed her healthy lifestyle.
Between her demanding career, raising two small kids and juggling everything else life threw at her, there just didn’t seem to be time for exercise. And swinging through a fast-food drive-through became a go-to meal choice in her time-crunched schedule.
“The ‘me’ time kind of went by the wayside,” she says.
But as her career settled and her two kids got older and didn’t need their mother’s constant attention, Dr. Carter started easing back into an exercise routine in late 2020. After hearing about the success a physician friend was having through the an online fitness program, she figured she’d give it a try.
Her strategy is based on the traditional formula of getting more exercise and eating more healthful foods. She planned to log an hour of exercise on her stationary bike every day. She’d eat healthy six days a week then allow herself to enjoy not-so-healthy foods in moderation – desserts are her favorite – one day a week.
She focused on eating healthy proteins including salmon and grilled chicken, along with lots of vegetables. She stays away from starches and sugar. When she has a salad, she skips the high-calorie toppings and creamy dressings, opting for a healthier vinaigrette.
She preps her week of meals on Saturday or Sunday. Her favorite go-to meal? A variety of soups she makes in her Instant Pot, including vegetable and white bean kale. Her go-to snack? Peanut butter and an apple.
“I try to mix it up so I’m not bored,” she says.

Sticking with it

In just a few months, regular exercise and healthy eating had made their way back into Dr. Carter’s daily routine. She no longer needed a program to help guide her – she took the core principles and developed a healthier lifestyle that works for her. And she was enjoying it.
“The biggest thing it helped me do was get me back on a schedule and routine of thinking about myself,” she says.

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Seven days a week, her alarm goes off at 4:10 a.m., and by 5 a.m. she’s on her Schwinn spin cycle to log 22 miles. Three days a week, she incorporates strength training using free weights, as well as doing push-ups and sit-ups.
She’s made healthy eating as convenient as the drive-throughs she used to rely on. She meal preps once a week, neatly packaging perfectly portioned healthy proteins and loads of vegetables in plastic containers. At work, they are conveniently stored in a mini fridge in her office; all she has to do is grab and heat in the microwave.
“I had to make lasting changes,” she says. “I needed to level out and figure out where my healthy balance is.”
She even stopped stepping on the scale regularly, instead celebrating “non-scale victories” such as wearing a smaller size clothing.
Sometimes her drastic progress even caught her by surprise. One day, as she hustled up the stairs at Tidelands Waccamaw Community Hospital, Dr. Carter’s scrub pants slipped right off her thinning waist and hips (she luckily had her workout pants underneath). Since starting her journey, Dr. Carter is down four scrub sizes.
“I didn’t even realize it until I was going up the steps and almost tripped because my pants were around my ankles,” she said, chuckling at being both slightly embarrassed but also pleasantly surprised by her tremendous progress in losing weight.

Finding what works for you

When she started her journey, she didn’t share it with too many people. But as colleagues and friends started noticing her results in January 2021, the positive feedback helped fuel her even more.
“It became more real when people started saying things to me,” she says.
Now, Dr. Carter looks forward to that morning ride on her stationary bike to get her day going. She hits the gym with her daughter nearly every weekend – combining quality time with her daughter with her exercise time (while also setting a positive example).
As for food, she doesn’t miss the desserts and other indulgences because she allows herself to enjoy them in moderation one day a week.

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