Samantha Sanders Hornberger,
OD, has always been healthy, “but I had struggled with weight issues since the end of high school. I’m an emotional eater, and during times of stress, I gain weight.” She tried program after program, usually able to lose some pounds for an event or goal, but then she’d gain them back.
“To be my healthiest, best self, this was something I needed to conquer.” She discovered what most roller-coaster dieters have found: the quick fix was not sustainable. “I was always looking for a way to get to my goal as quickly as possible so that I could stop the dieting. And there was immense guilt,” she says. She believes that other women in demanding professions like optometry may share that high-achieving goal of perfection.
Finally in February 2019, Dr. Hornberger came across a program that emphasized lifestyle changes and nutrition to gain wellness and energy. Not only did she lose and keep off pounds, but she became so enthralled with how she felt and how she gained energy and confidence that she also became a certified coach in the FASTer Way to Fat Loss, a program that emphasizes whole food nutrition with intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting can mean different things on different plans. For Dr. Hornberger, her goal is to stop eating after dinner and not eat again until after breakfast, fasting for 16 hours and eating only during an eight-hour window.
Because Dr. Hornberger is playing the long game, she can shrug off the occasional indulgences. “One Big Mac isn’t going to set you back. Allow yourself a break every once in a while, and you’ll stop obsessing that ‘you can’t have that’ on your diet,” she says. The satisfaction she gained from seeing her results led her to coach. “The program made such an impact on my relationship with food and my relationship with my body. I had so much on my plate already that I wondered if I needed to add one more thing, but I decided I couldn’t not do it. I knew that there were women in my network who needed this.
“The interesting side benefit of losing weight and gaining endurance is the confidence at work and the confidence in my personal life, chasing dreams and setting goals. Knowing that I’m taking good care of myself is amazing, and it shows in the way I carry myself,” she says.
She also brings some of the lessons learned to her patients. Lawrenceburg, Indiana, where her Bright Family Eye Care practice is located, is a small town, so she already knows or knows of many of her patients. “My line is really blurry between personal and professional life. I talk with patients about my kids and the stories of my life. If my story will help me relate to what that patient is going through, I’ll be open.”
So she does talk about nutrition, exercise and fasting with patients. Some are genuinely curious because they’ve seen the physical effects of the program. Others appreciate that she can be blunt. One of her patients with diabetes has moved away but continues to drive 90 minutes to see Dr. Hornberger for her exams. “I’ve also had a dad come in, whose 18-year-old daughter follows me on Instagram, and he says that she repeats some of the advice I give there,” she says.
As Dr. Hornberger knows from personal experience, it can be a challenge to make sustainable changes that help you reach your weight goals. Now that she’s found what has clicked for her, she hopes she can encourage others on their path. The key thing—in weight loss as in reaching so many other goals, she says—is to surround yourself with a supportive community.
In addition to practicing, being a mom and wife and coaching women on weight loss, Dr. Hornberger runs The Modern Eyesite, an online educational and networking group at themoderneyesite.com.