I Am A 10-Time Duke Graduate

degreerevLast week I “graduated” for the 10th time from the Duke Diet & Fitness Center, the preeminent residential medical weight loss program, affiliated with the Duke University.

Unlike college where you graduate once, at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center one can graduate many times. Interestingly given that I graduated from Rutgers (undergrad) and NYU (grad) in the 70s, when academic costs were far less, I realize that I’ve paid more to Duke than for my entire collegiate undergrad and grad educations combined. But it is money well spent. So when I decided to return once more, I loaded up my iPod with my top 20 driving tunes and headed south 420 miles to Durham, NC.

dfcWhat is the Duke Diet & Fitness Center? Simply, it’s a wonderful, supportive, health based program for people with weight issues. I’ve written about this in the past in an earlier Struming, American Obesity which is on the Duke web site. Alas I am obese, defined as having a Body Mass Index (BMI) in excess of 30, but I soon hope to be merely overweight (BMI 25-30), and after that who knows? I am thankful that the Duke program has helped me in my lifelong weight struggle. And when I slip, the voice inside my head says go back to Duke, so I have—10 times. And I am so happy to have done so.

I am 30+ pounds lighter than my heaviest weight but still far from my goal. Since my real goal is to dunk a basketball, I don’t think any amount of weight loss will help me dunk other than using a trampoline. But since I lack hops at any weight, I still aspire to be at least 30 pounds lighter and I am confident that this time I will get there. But words are cheap and action is what counts, so check back with me this summer.

The Duke Diet & Fitness program is a terrific one because it’s an integrated multi-faced program with many components:


People who attend eat modestly, but eat well, they learn about obesity and they learn about themselves. The program is flexible to the needs of the individual. As I mentioned I have gone many times, starting with my first visit in 1998. I am a “returnee” who knows the drill but still needs the discipline to help me. Will I return again in the future? Who knows, but I would never be disappointed to do so. I find it interesting to see the committed employees at the Duke Diet & Fitness Center, some of whom I now have known for 20 years, others who’ve joined in the more recent past. I am impressed with the culture of the organization. Each employee has a heart of gold and contributes to the well-being of their clients. They have saved many lives and will continue to do so.

The program has roughly 50-100 clients going through it at any time, and it’s a mix of men and women, largely though not exclusively 40+, all with a weight issue. It’s also a mix of first-timers and returnees such as myself. I’ve met incredibly interesting people in my visits including athletes, actors (think voice of Darth Veder—yes him, nice man BTW), and business leaders. Ironically my fondest acquaintance from Duke is the late Bill Rosenberg, the founder of Dunkin Donuts and a franchising pioneer, who I met in my first trip and became my friend until he passed away in 2002. I was proud to have been his buddy.

One medical issue that is common among many participants is diabetes. I am a type 2 diabetic, largely well controlled over time, but there’s nothing like a bad HA1C reading (which measures average glucose levels over a 90 day period) that gets my butt down to Durham. Diabetes is an epidemic with currently almost 30 Million American afflicted and projections for 50 Million in the future. It can be a life shortening disease if not managed properly. Obesity and diabetes are like “peas and carrots” as Forrest Gump would say.

So I am a Duke Diet & Fitness graduate once more and hope to push my weight (and most importantly my HA1C) down. And I still want to dunk, even if it’s on a 9 foot basket. I seek to earn a nickname like Vanilla Thunder. Good luck to me on that. I have a better chance of losing some weight.

Thanks Duke Diet & Fitness Center. You are the best.

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One Comment

  1. Lynn Hoban says:

    No excuses. Just results.

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