In this episode of the Real Health and Weight Loss Podcast, Dr Lucy Burns interviews Sharyn Streitberg, a nurse originally from Melbourne, and currently living in Switzerland. Sharyn shares her remarkable weight loss journey and the transformative impact of the Real Life Medicine program on her life.
Busy as a wife, mother, and nurse, she had neglected her own health, leading to type 2 diabetes and renal complications. Despite medications, she felt tired and unwell. Sharyn discovered Real Life Medicine through a friend in Australia and decided to give it a try.
The Real Life Medicine program, focusing on low-carb, real food, and incorporating mindset and hypnosis, proved to be a game-changer for Sharyn. She describes her significant health improvements, including a drop in HbA1c from 12 to 7, normalised renal function, and stable blood pressure.
Sharyn's achievements extended beyond numbers. She found herself fitting into dresses she hadn't worn in 23 years, feeling emotional yet triumphant. Moreover, she participated in a 10K walk, a feat she never imagined accomplishing just a year ago. These achievements, both personal and physical, exemplified her dedication and progress.
Sharyn emphasises the support and sense of community she found in the Real Life Medicine group. She highlights the importance of self-compassion, the simplicity of the program, and the positive impact on her overall well-being. Despite occasional slip-ups, Sharyn maintains a sustainable and consistent approach to her health.
The episode concludes with Dr. Lucy Burns inviting listeners to join the Real Life Medicine Momentum program for a supportive and transformative journey toward better health. To join, head over to this website: www.rlmedicine.com/momentum.
Dr Mary Barson (0:04) Hello, my lovely friends. I'm Dr Mary Barson.
Dr Lucy Burns (0:09) And I'm Dr Lucy Burns. We are doctors and weight management and metabolic health experts.
Both (0:16) And this is the Real Health and Weight Loss podcast!
Dr Lucy Burns (0:21) Hello, my gorgeous friends. It's Dr Lucy here this morning and I am without the gorgeous Dr Mary because I have a very special guest to interview. And I think that for all the women in the world, you will relate very well to my gorgeous guest, Sharyn Streitberg. Sharyn, welcome to the podcast.
Sharyn Streitberg (0:40) Thank you for having me, very honoured.
Dr Lucy Burns (0:44) Well, you know, I think that your story is remarkable. And I say remarkable, almost with tongue in cheek because it is a great story. But it's not that you're super special like your story is, you know, one of those– Oh my god, she's so rare type of stories. It's a story that we hear a lot. But it's a story that makes a phenomenal difference to the person experiencing the story.
Sharyn Streitberg (1:11) Yes, it's an interesting story. A one of travel, adventure and change.
Dr Lucy Burns (1:21) Indeed, indeed. So what I'd love to know, Sharyn, if you could just set the scene for our listeners, just tell them a bit about who you are, where you live at the moment, and even how you found Real Life Medicine.
Sharyn Streitberg (1:34) So I am originally from Melbourne, I worked as a nurse in Melbourne for many years, and then my husband was assigned to overseas duties with the corporation that he works for. And I'm currently living in Switzerland, where I've been for the last seven months. Prior to that, I was in Poland for five years. So I've had a very interesting change. And Real Life Medicine, for me, has been such a game changer in my life, I'm happier and healthier, which I never thought was possible. And it was introduced to me by a friend in Melbourne in about March this year. And she's also a member of Real Life Medicine, and she told me about it now. And you know, it's just another thing that I have to think about. And so here I am, I bit the bullet
Dr Lucy Burns (2:33) So your friend introduced you to Real Life Medicine, tell us about your health at that stage, like what was going on for you? Why did she think that you needed to, you know, be introduced to us?
Sharyn Streitberg (2:43) I was battling with my weight for many, many years, up and down, all over the place. I've tried numerous different lifestyle-changing programs, which were probably not as natural and as real as they could be. I don't know if I can mention which I have tried. But yeah, of course. Weight Watchers, like it 15 14 15, so I could get a beautiful depth dress way back in the day. I look back at photos of that now I wasn't even overweight. You know, I was 40. But anyway, I went into the diet trauma that I hear a lot about, and I don't think I fully experienced that aspect. But constantly being bigger than my friends. Then I started nursing. And I put my weight on when I was at college because I was drinking 10 cans of Coca-Cola a day to stay awake because we were partying, of course, and studying during the day. And it just went from there just blew out of control. And it just went up and up and up. Then I lost weight and I got down to a reasonable weight. And then from then on, it's just going up and up. So at my heaviest, I was 130 kilograms. And I made some changes. And I used a product called Isagenix and it worked. And I did maintain it, but it just was so full of stuff that I shouldn't be putting my body and my girlfriend in March this year, because I still dabbling every now and then in shape meal replacement. It's just not good to put stuff in your body. You don't know what it is.
Dr Lucy Burns (4:34) No. And did you have any kind of health effects, you know, related to ongoing weight gain?
Sharyn Streitberg (4:40) Yes, so four years ago, I was diagnosed with type two diabetes and hypertension. I suspect the type two diabetes may have been a couple of years before diagnosis, but I chose to ignore it. I have this news. Good news, bad news. The good news is I should do this and this is what I teach my patients and my clients. The bad news is, Ah it doesn't apply to you.
Dr Lucy Burns (5:11) Yes, we call that the rebel, the rebel who doesn't care, and say– bugger, I'm gonna do it anyway.
Sharyn Streitberg (5:17) Yes, exactly. So I didn't believe I had hypertension, I just went to the doctor one day, I was in Poland then. And because I have a pacemaker for a nonspecific reason, an unusual reason that anyway, he did my blood pressure, and it was like 260/120. And I'm like, I said– that's ridiculous. My blood pressure six months ago was perfectly stable. There was nothing wrong. So I just thought this machine was like the electronic machines, I had to say just doesn't recognise because I have had a fat arm. Just right. Yep. Anyway, he said—just humour me and take these tablets. And so I was reluctant to take them because I didn't want to, you know, pass out from dropping blood pressure because I didn't trust the machine. And then I flew to Australia because my dad was having surgery. And I wanted to be in Australia. So they had a blood pressure clinic at the hospital. And I thought I'd check it again. And it was ridiculously high again. So I asked them to do it manually. And they said —No, it's definitely high. So I ended up then agreeing with my doctor thinking— Wow, what has changed? And I was checking my glucose levels at that time, after the doctor had told me that they were high. I think that a week before I came to Australia, I was getting readings of 10 or 12, and up to 18. And I just thought I just couldn't believe it. Yeah, I slept in total denial. And the warning signs were there, you know, you're getting up in the night to go to the bathroom, I was drinking water. I drink a reasonable amount of water. But I was drinking a lot more, and I was thirsty at night. And then I hadn't really changed my diet, even though I had tried to, from my previous discussion with my GP in Australia, manage my lifestyle so that the writing was on the wall.
Dr Lucy Burns (7:15) It's so interesting, isn't it, though? How strong our denial mechanisms can be even in the face of really obvious signs. And you know, and as you said, you're a nurse, so you knew. But your brain goes on– Oh, no, can't possibly be true. And it doesn't want to know about it. So just runs away and hides.
Sharyn Streitberg (7:35) Exactly. It was quite bizarre. And I just said to my husband recently, so I can't believe everything I thought was true is not true. And I was teaching at one of the universities in Australia in the nursing school. And I'm teaching nutrition and I'm now realising how I'm teaching the wrong thing. I'm teaching the guidelines. But for me, it's so clearly a metabolic disorder. It's not the guidelines that I needed to follow. So that was a really perplexing situation for me.
Dr Lucy Burns (8:13) Absolutely. So you came home and you met up with your friend. And she said, I know this Real Life Medicine crew, you should have a look at them. And what did your brain do then?
Sharyn Streitberg (8:23) So what happened to have that discussion is when I arrived in Australia in October last year, 2022 to settle my kids back in Australia, because they've been living overseas with us. And it's time for them to start their life at university after finishing high school. My blood pressure, my blood, glucose has started to get ridiculously high. And I couldn't understand why because I was taking a weekly injection of trulicity. It was stable in Poland, it really had all to do with the change of environment, change of diet, and the stress that we had been under through COVID. And it was a myriad of things. And I went to my doctor and my renal function was not looking as it should for someone my age.
Dr Lucy Burns (9:08) Right? So you really were profoundly unwell then with your metabolic syndrome and diabetes, it was having some significant effects on you.
Sharyn Streitberg (9:17) It was having significant effects. And that was it for me. I worked with the GP in Australia before I came to live in Switzerland to join my husband. And I said I need to fix this. And then I was telling my girlfriend who is also a nurse. And she said, this is what I found. I'm going to the you had a conference. She said— I'm going to this, and said– Have a look and I said when I get to Switzerland I'll have a look and see but my mind at the moment sorting out the kids making sure they're all settled. I'll get to it.
Dr Lucy Burns (9:50) It's a profoundly common trait amongst women that we look after everyone else's needs first and we'll ghetto ours at some stage.
Sharyn Streitberg (10:02) Yes, exactly. And I realised the mistake in that and I tell people now don't put things off. I've got girlfriends in Australia, who are amazed at how much progress I've made. And I tell them what I've done, but they just haven't got the brain space to think about it, because there's so much going on in their lives.
Dr Lucy Burns (10:24) Absolutely. So you then got back home. And then what happened?
Sharyn Streitberg (10:27) I said– well, I looked at it, I read up on it, I finally had the headspace to think about it, because I had, the house had already been unpacked. Thankfully, because it's an arduous task every few years. And I read about it and I said to my husband, I think I should try this. And he goes, he's the devil's advocate in my life, and he says, —Well, you try a lot of things, you said, really, you just need to exercise more and eat less. And he just looked at him cross-eyed and I went– I don't eat more than you. And that was also the problem. I'm not eating enough. But I'm not eating enough of the right food. So he said, If you want to try it, try it and see what happens. So here are seven ways that I started in May. So I started looking at it in April, I made some changes in May and hit the first 12 Week Challenge in June. And I haven't looked back. And my husband is amazed.
Dr Lucy Burns (11:30) You now have momentum. Yes. Which is why we call it momentum because that's what it is, you get started with just a little step, toe in, you know, make a couple of things hope that it's gonna be alright and then you just get going, and it just, it just moves forward.
Sharyn Streitberg (11:51) Yeah. And look at the look, it is so simple. And look, I still have struggles. I think for me the incorporation of the mindset and the hypnosis has actually been a real change for me because I've always looked at that. Those concepts are yeah, it's all a bit hippie, a bit of fluff. Look, I don't I don't need that. And but I thought, you know, if I'm going to embrace this, I've got to embrace it all. So I just started with one change. And that was looking at my cupboards, removing everything because you do. Although I didn't throw things out, I put them in the cupboard where I couldn't see them. And actually, mostly, that's not a huge issue for me, and my husband just eats the garbage to the left. But after seven months is not any garbage in the house anymore. Really.
Dr Lucy Burns (12:43) They will be getting healthier, he'll be getting healthier by proxy.
Sharyn Streitberg (12:47) Yeah, he claims that the weight I've lost has gone to him so..
Dr Lucy Burns (12:54) Well, and so how is your health these days what's been happening?
Sharyn Streitberg (12:59) So I have dropped my HBA1C from January 2022, from 12 to, I think my last one was in September this year, and it's now seven, excellent. I've been really pleased the biggest drop came I think in June, when I started it was nine. And now it's down to seven and hopefully, it's down into the normal range. My endocrinologist, he was not openly supportive of what I was doing. He sort of felt it was like low carb. It's really keto. And you need to have carbohydrates. And I said I will prove you wrong. And so I've actually now sent him the link to what I'm doing because I turned up in his office recently for a check. My renal function is back to normal. I don't have a huge elderman leak anymore, which is just amazing. Because that was a turning point for me, you know, it should have been one of the other things. My blood pressure is stable only take quite a small dose of an antihypertensive. So they don't want to stop that at this point. My glucose is sitting below, depending on some days, it's sitting around 6, 6.5, and some days it's sitting around 7 or 8. And I always know when I've not been as focused on like, what I'm eating by my glucose in the middle of the day.
Dr Lucy Burns (14:23) But I think that again, you know, one of our favourite sayings is progress, not perfection. But you know and you are showing enormous progress from a woman that was really profoundly unwell with type two diabetes affecting your kidneys that were leaking protein. And you know our listeners, hemoglobin A1C is a measure of people's diabetic or glucose control. And 12 is what we would consider poor control it means that it your blood sugar we're probably sitting around the 18 fairly frequently. So to then have it come down into seven, and whilst it's not quite in a normal range, it is optimal like it's great, it's amazing for someone with type two diabetes to be able to reverse your disease.
Sharyn Streitberg (15:12) Yeah. And the endocrinologist here was like– this is amazing. He was just blown away by the change just in the three months between seeing him. He just couldn't believe it. And then I did a two-week continuous glucose monitor because I wanted to educate myself on what foods affected me the most, I was really curious to understand that and being a nurse, I liked a little bit of research and a little bit of science. So because the continuous glucose monitors here are outrageously expensive, and being type two diabetes, your insurance will not pay for it. So it's like $180 a month, Australian dollars, just for the tag that goes on your arm. So he just wanted to eat for two weeks. And for two weeks, I looked at what I ate, and I ate things that I used to eat, just to see what they would do. And I've learned so much about the food I eat. And it's been amazing. Yeah, that's wonderful. Just reinforce everything.
Dr Lucy Burns (16:17) Yeah, yeah, absolutely, and if I remember correctly, you posted a picture in the Facebook group recently about an achievement that you presumably didn't think was possible. So I'd love you to share that too.
Sharyn Streitberg (16:30) So I've had two major achievements. The first one was the picture I posted. The first was a dress. I have two dresses that I have kept for 23 years. I last wore these dresses, because I was so expensive when I bought them, you know, that 23 years ago, they were now they're not so expensive. But I last wore that dress two weeks before my wedding. And it was firm then and a little bit too curvy. And it probably shouldn't have been wearing it. And now I put it on and it was loose. So I pulled out the second one. And it was loose. And I was just like, – Oh, I was so excited to go there and cried. It was so funny. My husband goes– Why are you crying? You look amazing. And I went, I know but I never thought I'd wear these again. They've travelled the world with us addresses have been to eight countries. Yeah, wow. One of them I'd worn it once. And it was to firm that to a Melbourne Cup event somewhere where we were living. And yeah, I cry myself like a baby. It was like laugh cry. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Joy. Yeah. My second big achievement recently is I've participated in the Lausanne marathon, the 10K event, I did the walk, and nearly got mowed over by the Nordic walkers that they walk with their sticks because they moved still. But I finished it and I finished it five minutes under what I expected I'd finish it. So I was pretty happy. I was a bit sore afterwards. Because I do a lot of walking and I live on the side of a hill. Like it's really a glazier without snow used to be a glazier 1000 years ago. And Lausanne is very hilly. So it's got 340, so we walk a lot in the vines, the vineyards. But normally we get the train or the bus to the top, I would walk down because my cardiac function is somewhat average. And I'm not particularly fit going up your is a struggle, so we walk down, but there's still some hills to go up. But it's just slow and easy wins the race, you know, progress, not perfection. And so I thought 10K be easy, I won't get sore because I'm walking on a weekend I'll do 15, 16,000 steps. And I was so sore the next day, that I couldn't sit down, I had to actually clean the house. So I didn't have to sit there and keep the muscles moving.
Dr Lucy Burns (19:00) Yeah, so walking the 10K, that's something you never thought you'd be able to do this time last year.
Sharyn Streitberg (19:09) This time last year, that would not have been possible for me, I would have struggled with the distance I would have struggled with muscles, and feet, although my feet are pretty strong. And just my fitness was shocking. So I would have said in May this year, I could not have done it at all. There was one hill, and it's in a very minor hill. But in May this year, I couldn't walk up that hill. Now I can without stopping so they're all amazing achievements.
Dr Lucy Burns (19:42) Totally. When you posted that picture in the Facebook group, everyone was so happy for you.
Sharyn Streitberg (19:47) And it's such reinforcement that you get from the group and I remember when I first started like everyone you guys said in your podcast and your support. Coaching call is when you do this and stop posting photos, you'll start getting lots of comments and stuff. And that will help feed and stuff. But you've got to remember that eventually, the positive comments will stop and you've got to be able to sustain that. So for me, all these sorts of wins, and the non-scale victories or scale victories are amazing for me, I'm the lightest I've been, I'm smaller than when I was married in 2000. So these are all victories that sustained me and seeing everyone else's victories. It's like we can do this. It's been an incredible journey and not something I ever thought would happen.
Dr Lucy Burns (20:33) Amazing! And I think one of our you know, things in Momentum is that you're doing it for yourself, but not by yourself.
Sharyn Streitberg (20:39) Yeah, exactly. I don't feel alone. And if I'm having a bad day, I can post about it. And it gets support and someone else's out. And having a bad day to this is what I've done. And so I found that environment really helpful. And in the meditations, I'm a person who loves structure. So what I liked about the 12 Weeks was, on Saturday, the information would come through for me at midday, because it was midnight in Australia. And so on Saturday afternoon, if I had time, I would already start the modules. And so every week, I would have had a plan, I would do this, and I would do that, I'm gonna do this. So for me, who loves everything lined up and ordered and how I have to do it, I found it super easy. The simplicity was, was great. And I had the mind space to really think about challenging my views on meditation and hypnosis, I was always afraid of hypnosis. Because you know, you might end up doing something you shouldn't.
Dr Lucy Burns (21:46) There is no cracking, no quacking like a duck on our hypnosis.
Sharyn Streitberg (21:52) So I found it super simple. So I'm probably struggling a little bit now because the structure is not the same, the materials there. But it's not like it's new every week. There's so much to fish through. But I'm also doing intensive French at the moment, because part of my visa conditions is to learn French and let's say on a sip, ah, I don't know how good I'm doing. But I have any, I have an exam coming up. And hopefully, it will be done and dusted in 10 days, and then I can refocus again, on getting my structure back.
Dr Lucy Burns (22:29) Indeed, indeed. So I guess, you know, for you, you know, it's had a profound change. You've had a profound change.
Sharyn Streitberg (22:38) Ah, I can't believe I've had to put myself every day. It's like, I cannot believe it. I see my shape go past a window, and I'm actually looking at it myself. I'm not like trying to hide.
Dr Lucy Burns (22:50) I love that.
Sharyn Streitberg (22:51) I am going to need new clothes.
Dr Lucy Burns (22:55) That's the good luck, bad luck thing with weight loss, isn't it?
Sharyn Streitberg (22:58) Yes, exactly. It's a good thing.
Dr Lucy Burns (23:01) And do you think that this is, you know, something that you'll be able to maintain? Like, you know, because that's been a lot of people guide, I think it's, I don't think it's sustainable.
Sharyn Streitberg (23:09) Totally sustainable. I am still losing weight. And I'm doing reasonably slowly. And I still have my slip-ups. I feel I've got a lot of carb creep at the moment, because we've had a few celebrations, and I tried to do the best I can. But sometimes it's a little hard to resist. I know I cannot have Pringles in my house, or crisps or chips or anything, because I love them. And I can't just have one. So they're just not in the house, although they are in the house at the moment because we had people bring them to a party. Last week, we had a delayed housewarming, and I did all low-carb food. And people didn't even know.
Dr Lucy Burns (23:54) No, it's not hard It honestly isn't once you just need a little bit of space in your mind. And the actual doing of it is easy.
Sharyn Streitberg (24:05) Yeah. It's so simple. And it's like I have the mind space. My kids are doing well. And, you know, they used to take up a lot of my time for various issues due to COVID-related stress. But you know, things are going well. And I like changing things from pasta. I think I've had pasta. twice in the last seven months. I went to Italy and I was terrified. I was going to fall over in Italy and not eat. I went to Italy for a week I met some friends from Australia, there were some girlfriends and it was so easy to maintain because it's interesting not everyone needs pasta in Italy and I didn't need any pizza because I'm not a big pizza fan anyway. Although the fat dough pizza is amazing.
Dr Lucy Burns (24:53) Yeah, I know for pizza lovers, you can actually you can still you know have your pizza. What is it? Have your cake and eat it too. You can have your pizza and eat it too.
Sharyn Streitberg (25:02) Exactly. But I think the most important thing is that the self-compassion. You know, I used to kick myself when I slipped up. And now maybe I think I'm a bit too self-compassionate at the moment. But.
Dr Lucy Burns (25:16) oh, no, no, no, you're onto it. So firms are fair.
Sharyn Streitberg (25:20) I'm the boss of me. And that resonates. You guys said that at the beginning– You are the boss of you. Is it helpful or unhelpful? So just changing the words, how I spoke about how I ate has made an incredible difference.
Dr Lucy Burns (25:33) Yeah, yeah. You know, you're still a work in progress. And I think that's why we, you know, really spend our time with that self-compassion, because for decades, you know, you put yourself at the bottom of the heap. You tried dieting, you learned, you know, some tools that are probably unhelpful, long term. And so it's unlearning that behaviour, and those stories and relearning the new ones, which, you know, to quote Pantene, “it doesn't happen overnight, but it does happen”.
Sharyn Streitberg (26:05) Yeah, It's amazing. It took a while for the changes to start, I would say. I think maybe by week eight, I started to see real positive changes in the 12 weeks. And I did start losing reasonably quickly. I think about week four, week five, but actually seeing the changes in myself was probably around week eight. And it was quite amazing. I still pinch myself.
Dr Lucy Burns (26:34) I know and what I just love and again, our listeners won't be able to see you on the camera. But just you know, your skin's clear. You're vibrant. You just look well.
Sharyn Streitberg (26:44) Yeah. And my fingernails, I cannot believe my fingernails are healthy. And they were never terrible, but I just thought they were stronger. It's amazing how much damage I was doing to my body before this.
Dr Lucy Burns (26:58) Well, again, it's always helpful to know, though, that our body is an incredible organ that can repair if given the opportunity, as yours has. And this is why I always say to people, it's never too late. People are never too old. It's never too late. You can always start and the best time to start, you know, for a lot of people might have been a few years ago. But the second best time is now.
Sharyn Streitberg (27:25) Exactly. That's exactly and I said to people recently, I didn't tell anyone. I was going on this journey, I decided to keep it a secret. And my husband did let the cat out of the bag because he said the photos that he took of me and my dresses because he was so proud. And he was excited for me. And he didn't realise that I hadn't told anyone. So the family were like– Oh my god, what are you doing? And I said I am eating healthy, real food all the time. And they said, but don't you miss something. I'm not missing anything. I said if I feel like a potato, I eat a potato. But I eat one potato. I don't eat 10 potatoes. Interestingly, potato doesn't affect my glucose as much as white flour. That stuff is the devil.
Dr Lucy Burns (28:18) Well, I think you know white flour doesn't have any starches or five, you know, it's not a whole food, like a potato comes as a whole food. It makes quite a bit of difference if you how you prepare it. So people who do a fine mash, for example, will often have better-put glucose up compared to a baked potato.
Sharyn Streitberg (28:38) Yeah, definitely, definitely. So I don't have potato often, but occasionally I'll have a small potato. But mostly I love the cauliflower mash.
Dr Lucy Burns (28:47) Indeed. And you know what, you are the boss of you. It doesn't have to be perfect. It has to be consistent. So if you're eating low carb, real food most of the time, and you're honest with your brain about what's going on, then you will always get results. It's just incredible. And Sharyn, you have changed the trajectory of your health and your future. Future Sharyn is going to be looking back and thanking current Sharyn for the change.
Sharyn Streitberg (29:20) Ah, absolutely. Absolutely. I'm not looking back.
Dr Lucy Burns (29:25) I love it. I love it. Thank you so much for being a guest on the podcast and for all our lovely listeners. If you relate to Sharyn's story and you want to be part of Momentum, please, now's the time the doors are open. All you need to do is toggle over to our website at www.rlmedicine.com/momentum and you can join our beautiful crew. It is the most supportive, lovely, safe and just incredible environment and full mainly because it's full of incredible women and you know, Mary and I are blessed and honoured to be part of their journey. So go check it out. Alright lovelies, I will see you next week. Have a wonderful, wonderful week. Bye for now.
Dr Lucy Burns: (30:12) The information shared on the Real Health and Weight Loss podcast, including show notes and links, provides general information only. It is not a substitute, nor is it intended to provide individualised medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor can it be construed as such. Please consult your doctor for any medical concerns.