CITY, Mo. ó Michelle Sullivan scored a prominent entry last
August in the annals of putting oneself out there.
vivid image of Sullivanís body fat as recorded by a medical
scanner appeared on the cover of the Kansas City Starís FYI
magazine for all to see, with her internal belly fat lit up in
not the kind of graphic information everyone would want to
share. But Sullivan was ready to do something about her weight
problem, and she figured going public would help her stay
focused and could help others, too.
50-year-old nurse had decided to take advantage of a new body
scan at St. Lukeís Cardio Health and Wellness Center touted
as highly accurate and specific. It differentiates between
subcutaneous fat, the kind you can pinch, and visceral fat,
which is internal and is the most dangerous kind because it
crowds out organs and produces harmful chemicals.
knew she needed to lose weight, but the map of the fat
concentrated in her abdomen, visceral adipose tissue, and the
number assigned was a shock.
estimate higher than 100 is considered an increased health
risk. Higher than 160 is "high risk." Sullivanís
VAT was 271.
her encounter with the scan, Sullivan has lost 23 pounds. She
followed the advice of Becky Captain, nurse practitioner at
the center, to focus each meal on a lean protein and "two
colors," that is, vegetables and fruit. Sugars and
starches are no-nos.
feel a lot better," Sullivan says about her smaller self.
The body aches she feared might be the onset of arthritis have
itís hard," she says. "Every day is hard."
breakfast she often has scrambled eggs and a piece of turkey
bacon ó sheís always loved bacon. But no toast. Lunch
might be a piece of chicken plus tomatoes and cucumbers.
also prepares for those "other" times.
Iím going out shopping, I pack some nuts in my purse so I
donít stop and get a big pretzel," she says.
afternoon at work she chews bubblegum to avoid snacking. And
no more soda, which she used to enjoy daily.
havenít had any soda," she says, "and the other
day I took a sip just to see what it would be like. It was so
sweet I couldnít handle it."
says the center has provided about 275 scans since offering
them to the public in July.
are surprised to hear about the different kinds of fat theyíre
carrying," she says. "Just knowing about their
visceral fat and that itís working against them, itís
hurting their health, is a motivator to lose weight."
can serve as a wake-up call, she says.
lot of people have the feeling that theyíve let themselves
go and let themselves down," she says. "Theyíre in
tears, wondering how they let this happen in the past five
years or eight years.
we tell them itís not where youíve been, itís where youíre
has an appointment later this month for a follow-up scan.
Because diet improvements can reduce visceral fat fairly
quickly, her VAT number likely has decreased.
knows she wants to lose 17 more pounds. So far, she says, she
hasnít been consistent with walking or a gym exercise
routine, which will be her next step.
has heard from work associates and others that her story
inspired them to take action about their own problems with
tell me how grateful they are that I did this. I say, íHey,
however my fat can help, Iím there for you,í" she
says with a laugh. "I know I needed this extreme measure
to get me started."