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Weight Loss After Pregnancy: New Mom Loses 175 Pounds

Ryan Livingston has a message for moms.

“You can lose weight after you have kids. And you can keep the pounds off.”

Ryan lives on a family farm in Newberry County with her husband Scott and their young children Payton and Furman.

Ryan at her heaviest weight after delivering her daughter.

“Get in shape for the sake of your kids and your health,” she said.

Growing up, Ryan was always one of the tallest kids in class. At 6 feet tall, she used her height to her advantage on the high school basketball team. She met Scott soon after high school, and carefree college years moved her away from a regular fitness routine.

“I didn’t feel a need to stay in shape,” Ryan said. “My husband looked at me through ‘love goggles’ and never saw me as big.”

In her early 20s, Ryan began her first pregnancy at 245 pounds. She developed preeclampsia, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure that can be dangerous for mother and baby. The condition required bed rest and careful monitoring. By the time Payton was born, Ryan weighed 346 pounds.

Ryan at her leanest weight after losing 175 pounds.

“I was trying to heal from a caesarean section, do laundry and keep up with Payton. I was to the point where I couldn’t care for myself,” Ryan said.

Ryan’s doctor is Janis E. Keeton, MD, an OB/GYN in the Lexington Medical Center network of care.

“Weight loss after pregnancy is challenging for most women. The stress of becoming a new parent combined with sleep deprivation creates a vicious cycle, raising hormone levels that promote fat storage,” Dr. Keeton said. “That can help women keep the weight on and make it more difficult to get the weight off.”

Janis E. Keeton, MD

Dr. Keeton encourages women who are struggling with their weight to ask their doctor to check for a thyroid condition, which affects one in 10 women and can make it hard to lose weight.

And it’s important to have good habits in place before having a baby. That will help limit weight gain during pregnancy and decrease the risk of complications such as pregnancy-induced high blood pressure and even a caesarean section.

“If a mom didn’t have good eating and exercise habits before, it’s going to be harder to incorporate a healthy routine into her schedule with a new baby,” Dr. Keeton said.

In addition to a lower carbohydrate and higher protein meal plan coupled with regular exercise, Dr. Keeton recommended that Ryan keep a food journal and download a free fitness and nutrition app on her phone.

“It made me accountable throughout the day,” Ryan said. “I would log everything I ate. That’s when I realized I ate an entire box of Lucky Charms in two days. I learned I could satisfy my sweet tooth with something smaller.”

Ryan and her family today

As a real estate agent, Ryan worked irregular hours, grabbing food when and where she could. It was a challenge to find healthy snacks on the go and resist the ease of fast food, but she made smarter choices and the pounds started coming off. When she reached 265 pounds, she started going to the gym three days a week for light cardio and weight training.

A year and a half after having Payton, Ryan reached her high school weight of 175 pounds.

During the process, Dr. Keeton also encouraged Ryan to get some rest.

“Most new moms are working, too,” Dr. Keeton said. They’re the last to go to bed and the first to get up. I encourage them to ask for and accept help so they can find time for themselves. They shouldn’t feel like a bad person for not giving every minute they have to the baby.”

According to Dr. Keeton, the way to win the weight battle is consistency and a plan.

“They’re going to get off track,” she said. “I ask patients to anticipate the road blocks that have previously caused them to fail. I tell them to get back on track so that 85 to 90 percent of the time they’re doing the right thing. No one is perfect all the time.”

Ryan’s healthier weight and lifestyle put her in better shape for her second pregnancy. Today, she weighs just over 200 pounds and is back on track to reaching her 175-pound goal.

“Scott and my mom have been great supporters and have always encouraged me to keep shooting for my goals,” Ryan said. “It always helps when you have loved ones who want to see you accomplish your dreams in life.”

She has more energy, too.

“I still eat cake, ice cream and pizza. But I limit my portions,” Ryan said. “I’m so thankful that I stuck with it. It’s been a saving grace.”

Vista Clinical Research Helps Patients Feel Better

From uterine fibroids to endometriosis, many women suffer for a long time with chronic conditions that don’t get better, despite trying multiple treatments.

Vista Clinical Research can offer these patients new options that may finally help them feel better. As part of the Lexington Medical Center network of care, Vista Clinical Research has expertise in clinical trials involving all areas of women’s health.

A group of uterine fibroid studies is underway at the facility. Women with uterine fibroids often have pain in the abdomen, back or pelvis, and heavy or irregular bleeding. Uterine fibroids typically affect women ages 18 to 49, and up to 60 percent of women will experience them in their lifetime.

Vista Clinical Research is enrolling qualified candidates in several research trials testing a variety of potential medical treatments for uterine fibroids. These investigational treatments may help ease symptoms and prevent the need for surgery.

Clinicians are also enrolling women in an endometriosis trial. Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. It can cause severe pain, increased menstrual cramps and painful intercourse.

John H. Moore, MD, and Kathryn L. Moore, MD, are the physician investigators who oversee the clinical trials. Both also practice gynecology at Vista Women’s Healthcare, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice.

“When I focus on research, I think about the potential benefits to the patient,” said Dr. John Moore.  “A lot of our patients have exhausted all other options. These methods are sometimes their last chance to achieve significant symptom relief.”

The physicians select the trials in which they want to participate. Each investigational medication has shown potential benefits in earlier studies, but must complete all FDA-mandated trials before being considered approved for widespread use.

In the past, Vista Clinical Research has participated in trials for conditions including migraine headaches, hot flashes, high cholesterol and contraception methods. If a patient qualifies for the trial, there is no cost to participate.

Breast Cancer Genetics: Three Sisters, Two Genes, One Goal

Bridgett Mitchell of Lexington was diagnosed with breast cancer at Lexington Medical Center in January at just 40 years old. Doctors discovered four suspicious spots during a routine mammogram. Bridgett is a mother of four – her youngest child is in preschool.

Hope and Bridgett

Women’s Imaging Center wanted me to come back the next day for a biopsy; I got the call three days later that it was cancer,” Bridgett said. “Everything moved rather quickly from there.”
Breast cancer is no stranger to Bridgett’s family. Her older sister Iris was diagnosed with the disease in 2008 at age 41.

With two sisters diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, the family decided to have genetic testing.
The Genes
Researchers have been able to test for genetic factors on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that indicate a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancers. These gene mutations can be inherited from a person’s mother or father, and are the strongest inherited risk factor known for cancer risk in women.

The family’s genetic testing results raised even more questions. Bridgett tested positive for the BRCA2 gene. Iris tested negative. And then there was their sister Hope.


Hope, age 47, has never been diagnosed with breast cancer. But her genetic testing results revealed her odds of getting breast or ovarian cancer before age 70 were more than four times greater than women in the general population.

Steven A. Madden, MD, of Lexington Oncology, a Lexington Medical Center physician practice, is Bridgett’s doctor. He said the sisters’ story provides a valuable lesson.

“Even if you test negative, if you also have a strong family history of cancer, it’s a good reason to be more diligent in your ongoing screening.”

According to Dr. Madden, having a gene mutation is a very strong indicator of elevated breast cancer risk. So much, that many patients choose preventive surgery.
Bridgett’s diagnosis and positive genetic test results led Dr. Madden to advise her to have a double mastectomy.

“He said there’s an increased chance I would have breast cancer again if I didn’t,” Bridgett said. “We also found that two of my lymph nodes were positive, so it was spreading.”

In addition to the surgery, Bridgett opted for chemotherapy and radiation, plus a hysterectomy to eliminate the risk of ovarian cancer.

“Simply because of the mutation, he recommended a more aggressive treatment,” she said.

Steven A. Madden, MD

According to Bridgett, learning she had a BRCA mutation was helpful. “I consider it to be knowledge, and knowledge is power,” she said. “It makes you more mindful of what you’re doing and helps you stay on the right track. You try to make the best choices that you can, and then pray about the rest.”
Bridgett said she hopes her 7-year-old daughter will have genetic testing when she turns 18 so she will have the information she needs to make the right decisions.
While Iris does not have the BRCA mutation, her cancer diagnosis has led her to change her diet and exercise habits. Genetic testing did provide some relief.

“I have a daughter, and I was concerned about passing it on to her. The test resolved that stress,” she said.
Without a gene mutation and because Iris’ doctor was able to surgically remove all the cancer, her risk of recurrence was estimated at about 7 percent.

“Genetic testing can help you be proactive in finding the best approach to treatment. It may save your life.”
Although Hope never had cancer, her positive genetic testing spurred action. With the recommendations of her doctor and a genetic counselor, Hope underwent surgery to remove all of her breast tissue and a hysterectomy, which will greatly decrease her risk of cancer.

“My gynecologist and my family doctor both thought it would be in my best interest to go that route,” said Hope, a mother of five who also lives in Lexington. Hope’s daughter has tested negative for the breast cancer genes.

Hope also began eating more fruit and vegetables, cut back on bread and pasta in her diet and started walking three to five miles almost daily.

“Cancer can occur in different parts of your body, whether I had a mastectomy or not. I believe I’m doing all the things I need to do to prevent that.”