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Dr. Michael Stern: “Focus on what abilities you do have, rather than your disabilities and the things you have lost”

Determine what gives you pleasure, and pursue it, all while remaining within your abilities. I use the term MS as being a miracle survivor and don’t think of myself as disabled, but rather that I have special abilities. I can’t play basketball like Michael Jordan, but he also cannot instruct someone regarding how to remove […]

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Determine what gives you pleasure, and pursue it, all while remaining within your abilities. I use the term MS as being a miracle survivor and don’t think of myself as disabled, but rather that I have special abilities. I can’t play basketball like Michael Jordan, but he also cannot instruct someone regarding how to remove a kidney stone or how to lose weight quickly and forever either. We all have our special abilities and it’s how we use them that makes all the difference. Focus on what abilities you do have, rather than your disabilities and the things you have lost.


As a part of our “Unstoppable” series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Michael Stern, author and founder of the Seattle Weight Loss Center.

Dr. Michael Stern is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Madison, and Autonomous University of Guadalajara Mexico Medical School. He completed his post-graduate studies at the College of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, now called Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. His medical school training was six years, from 1973 to 1979.

Dr. Stern completed a one-year rotating internship, year of internal medicine, a year of general surgery, and three years of urology and urologic surgery. He became board-certified in adult and pediatric urology in 1983, and went on to have a successful private practice from 1980 to 2007.

He moved to Santa Rosa, Calif. to join the medical staff of True North health clinic, an inpatient fasting facility promoting a hygienic medicine to cure disease and develop good vegan eating habits. Dr. Stern taught urology for 10 years at the premier naturopathic medical school of Bastyr University.

Dr. Stern maintained having a specialized medical practice from 2010 until 2016, when he officially retired temporarily because he had a 2 1/2 year hiatus dealing with worsening medical problems from multiple sclerosis. In 2019, he came across a physical therapy robotic machine that could take people from wheelchairs to walking again, but his weight disqualified him. To qualify for the machine, you had to be less than 80 kg, or 176 pounds. At the time, he weighed 240 pounds. He then went on to lose 70 pounds, reaching 170 pounds and has been able to maintain that weight ever since.

This inspired him to want to help others with their weight loss goals, and recently opened a nonprofit organization doing just that in 2020. The organization is based on what he has learned through experience and research. Dr. Stern’s Rotation Diet is also shared in his new book by the same name launched Dec 2020. Teaching and helping others is Dr. Stern’s primary activity, which gives extraordinary meaning to his life, while crossing off one thing on his bucket list at the age of 74.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! It is really an honor. Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share your backstory with us?

Dr. Stern, a retired urologist who has extensively studied weight loss from a variety of angles, has become a weight loss specialist. A former marathon runner, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1995, and today is a quadriplegic. Seeing how so many people struggle with weight issues, which bring about or exacerbate underlying health conditions, he founded the Seattle Weight Loss Center. Through the nonprofit organization, he is on a mission to help as many people as he can to take control of their weight, successfully shed the extra pounds, and improve their overall health and well-being. I am unable to roll over in bed, but I am blessed that my mental powers and my verbal powers are still intact.

Do you feel comfortable sharing with us the story surrounding how you became disabled or became ill? What mental shift did you make to not let that “stop you”?

I was a sports enthusiast, playing basketball from high school till 1997 when MS would not allow me to play at the competitive level. I completed three marathons in my 30s and completed two triathlons while always maintaining running, swimming, basketball, golf, tennis, and water skiing. I never let my disabilities or failing health keep me down and use all my energy to keep helping people live a better life. That’s what it’s all about.

Can you tell our readers about the accomplishments you have been able to make despite your disability or illness ?

I continued to practice medicine and provide education, motivation, and inspiration to my patients even when I was able to not walk or examine them or perform surgery. Most recently, started my nonprofit Seattle Weight Loss Center and wrote a book called Dr. Stern’s Rotation Diet. All from my wheelchair.

What advice would you give to other people who have disabilities or limitations?

Determine what gives you pleasure, and pursue it, all while remaining within your abilities. I use the term MS as being a miracle survivor and don’t think of myself as disabled, but rather that I have special abilities. I can’t play basketball like Michael Jordan, but he also cannot instruct someone regarding how to remove a kidney stone or how to lose weight quickly and forever either. We all have our special abilities and it’s how we use them that makes all the difference. Focus on what abilities you do have, rather than your disabilities and the things you have lost.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

My father taught me that you can accomplish anything and I believed him. He also told me that giving returns to you tenfold. I went to medical school because I decided that helping others gave me pleasure and completed my life by giving it meaning.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Hopefully, my life is an example for others to accomplish all that they can with their special abilities.

Can you share 5 things I wish people understood or knew about people with physical limitations and why.

  1. Not being able to walk does not affect your mental acuity.
  2. Not being able to talk without losing your breath does not mean that you can’t have great ideas.
  3. Stephen Hawking was clearly a brilliant mind and thinker, yet had many physical limitations.
  4. That it’s okay to allow people to do what they can to help, but they shouldn’t force the help upon people with disabilities.
  5. If I am unable to perform a task it does not mean that I do not know how to do it, so listen carefully to my words and don’t try and do it on your own.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?

Life is like playing golf. You have to learn how to have fun when you’re playing really bad because one day you will have a lot of fun when you start playing well.

Life is also like a combination lock. You can have all the right numbers, but unless you put them in the right order the lock does not open.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂

I would like to talk with Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey about giving to others.

I would’ve liked to talk to Steven a Hawking, but unfortunately, that’s no longer an option. But I would like to speak to other highly accomplished people who had very unique abilities and many limitations.

https://www.SeattleWeightLossCenter.org

Dr. Stern’s Rotation Diet

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!

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