Many of you have been a source of encouragement for me on my wellness journey and many have also asked about how I am doing so I thought it was about time for an update. I’ve held off on doing an update on my progress in the Weigh To Wellness Program to wait for metrics on cholesterol, but since they will not be forthcoming for another few weeks I’ll wait until then to report progress on my biometrics including BMI, blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. However, I will report on one major statistic – I recently lost my 75th pound. Take a look at the photo included below. Mr. Tim Sobie, owner of Sobie Meats with his wife Teresa, located on Remembrance Road in Walker, put together 75 pounds of meat in two tubs to show what this weight loss looks like in terms of red meat. I was initially hoping for 75 pounds of fat which would look much larger, but they don’t ever have that much fat on hand. I think you’ll agree that it is quite the pictorial representation for my weight loss!
My first appointment with the good folks at Weigh to Wellness was back on September 21 and I was put on 1,000 calories per day to get ready for the beginning of the program the following week. For that first week I ate Lean Cuisine and Michelina’s Lean Gourmet type meals. On September 28, I was put on an 800 calorie per day diet through December 19th. Meals during this phase consisted of product purchased directly from Weigh to Wellness. All products (with the exception of the protein bars) came in a small packet which was mixed then with water and either heated or just drank in the case of the shake. The products were soy based and had high protein content. A typical schedule/diet for the 800 calorie per day phase looked like this:
6:00 a.m. Oatmeal
10:00 a.m. Shake
12:00 Noon One of four types of soup or chili
3:00 p.m. Protein bar
6:00 p.m. Two pancakes
9:00 p.m. Protein
On December 19, I graduated to the 1,000 calorie per day phase and was allowed to remove one to two meal replacements and add up to 6 ounces of lean meat and up to 4 cups raw or 2 cups cooked green or non-starchy vegetables per day. On Wednesday of last week I graduated to the 1,000 to 1,200 calorie per day phase. This added to my diet fruits, grains, dairy, and pretty much everything except sugar. My first day eating “real food” I had an egg and toast for breakfast and a yogurt and cheese for lunch and it tasted wonderful.
I have a doctor appointment at Weigh to Wellness each week, usually on Wednesday mornings at 7:00 a.m. I weigh in, have my blood pressure taken and meet with a doctor or nurse to discuss progress and how I’m doing. I’m also doing a lot of reading on the psychology and biology of eating and meeting with a behaviorist every other week to discuss the readings and ultimately how to prevent regaining the weight once the program has ended.
The program emphasizes a lot of water intake, a minimum of 64 ounces per day. Cells have to be hydrated at a certain percentage for weight loss to take place. Strenuous exercise is prohibited until the carbohydrates are added back into the diet. If someone exercises too much in the 800 to 1,000 calorie stage, it can force the body into survival mode, or what I have fondly come to call the “lost in the woods mode.” If you were lost in the woods you would might be desperately exerting yourself to find a way out and if you were also without food your body would retain water and fat for your protection. This happened to me three times on the diet, once when I swam and walked in the same day and once when I split and stacked wood for 4 hours. In that case I ended the day 5 pounds heavier than I started the day! I started out walking 1.5 miles 3-4 times per week and then doubled this to 3 miles. I also began swimming ¼ mile per time and will now increase this to ½ mile each time. I am definitely looking forward to stepping up the exercise to racquetball and running now that I’m past the 800 calorie stage.
I have about 17 more pounds to lose and have about 9 weeks left in the program. Perhaps in a future blog I’ll try to enumerate some of the many benefits I experience daily from losing the weight so far.
Many have asked me for the contact information for Weigh to Wellness. Weigh to Wellness can be contacted at 616-685-1490 and http://www.advantagehealth.org/services/weigh_to_wellness. Since their locations are on the East Beltline and Wealthy St. in Grand Rapids, I included the contact information for a similar program that offers services in Grand Haven and Holland in a recent Digest. This program is The Medical Weight Loss Clinic and can be contacted at 1-800-GET-SLIM. If you know of other programs I would be glad to put them in the Digest or a future blog. The best way to access a program is to start with your doctor. If you have a certain number of risk factors that exceed certain benchmarks, our Priority Health insurance will cover the program. I’ve already had some employees tell me that they checked this out and though they are overweight they did not have enough risk factors present to allow their doctor to prescribe them to the program and have the cost of the program covered by the health insurance benefit.
Support at home is crucial. My wife Leslie has lost 37 pounds since I started the Weigh to Wellness Program. She started about the same time I did and basically cut her portion size to about palm size and eventually began counting calories. She did not change the type of food she ate. It also helps a lot that she is an excellent cook.
It is a strange feeling to completely start over with clothing at close to age 50. Almost every stitch of clothing that I owned has been given to Goodwill, Inc., given away, thrown out, or reduced to the rag bag. I haven’t wanted to purchase much in the way of clothing when it will only last a month so I have purchased some clothing from Goodwill, Inc. until the weight loss is completed.
I’ve learned much over the past four months and look forward to the last couple months of the program. I approach all of this with proper humility as my failures with keeping weight off dwarf my successes over the past 25 years. I believe that with the knowledge and practice that the program affords that the outcome will be different this time. More important than knowledge and practice is the mindset that this isn’t a diet that ends when the weight loss stops but a major lifestyle change that is permanent.
A very strange and bizarre part of this process has been that I have become unrecognizable at first glance to many colleagues and friends who have known me for a long time but haven’t seen me in the past 2-3 months. It started when two Grand Valley Metro Council Board members walked right past me and didn’t know who I was and since then a significant number of people, including my own doctor have failed to recognize me at first, though I realize that part of this was shedding the moustache.
The Health Management Committee is hard at work on wellness program development. One facet of the wellness program will include disincentives that will require some employees to pay more for their health insurance. The great news is that the only way to have to experience a disincentive is to refuse to participate in the wellness program or refuse to follow your physician’s advice. Even if your specific condition does not improve, as long as you follow your physician’s advice, you will not pay a disincentive. My doctor, Dr. Jerry Witherell, worked with me on diet issues for three years before prescribing me to the Weigh to Wellness program. I didn’t always follow his advice and even canceled a couple of appointments so I wouldn’t have to face him. I would have had to pay a disincentive had the wellness program been in place then.
This has been quite a journey so far with much work to go. The bottom line is I feel great! The good news is that if I can do this, anyone else can too!