Doctor moves West and makes radical changes in her lifestyle

BY JIM HART
The Sandy Post, Jul 27, 2011

Jean Riquelme, M.D., stands on her treadmill, which is under the only desk in her office, a TrekDesk Treadmill Desk. Riquelme uses the treadmill while working at her desk as a part of her weight-loss exercise program.


For more than four decades, Jean Riquelme, M.D., lived in a in a small town in northern Wisconsin, where she said there was no fresh food.

Her diet, typical for a family with German-Polish-Russian roots, included a lot of bratwurst, deep-fried fish, fried potatoes, fried cheese curds and bakery delicacies.

Her husband’s job was transferred, and they moved to Oregon late last year. Even after 20 years in family medical practice, she was not the picture of health. Her body, just 5 feet tall, weighed 270 pounds.

Something had to change. She knew she needed radical adjustments in her lifestyle.

Getting started was the issue.

Holding her thumb and forefinger just one-eighth-inch apart, she said, “I was this close to diabetes (due to her weight) when I came to Oregon. And I wanted to lose weight. But I never had a job where they cared about your personal health, like they do here (at the Sandy Adventist Health Clinic, where she is on staff).

“I also wanted to walk the talk for my patients. If you’re really fat and you tell your patient to lose weight, they’re like: ‘you first.’ ”

In mid-January, she began a three-week “Kick Start” program to become a vegetarian, because research has shown pre-diabetics are better off with a vegetarian diet.

“It was pretty compelling science,” she said. “This is the statement that I read that totally changed my life: ‘The latest studies on diabetes show that a vegetarian diet high in complex carbohydrates and low in fat is the best dietary prescription for controlling diabetes.’ ”

That gave her confidence. She joined a support group, but she still needed to lose fat, and she knew that couldn’t be accomplished without increasing muscles.

“Fat can only be burned fast in your muscles,” she said. “But my job is totally sedentary. I was a TV addict; the only exercise I had was walking my dog.”

Then she began a supervised exercise program.

Six months into the program, she awakes at 3 a.m., goes to the gym at 4 a.m. each day, logging at least 45 minutes of lifting weights twice a week, 30 minutes of cardio every day on the stationary bicycle or rowing machine and 1 or 2 miles of swimming every day.

She adds resistance training during her lunch hour at work. She also walks her dog every day and hikes local trails every weekend she’s not working at the Sandy Urgent Care Center.