L.S. works at Community Hospital South. She has participated in the Physician Managed Program and Whatever It Takes for two years. She has lost a total of 95 pounds over the two years since the inception of the BTWM program. She writes, “Thank you for allowing me to speak on behalf of this program. As far as I am concerned it is the only program that works because it not only provides you with good tools to use, but you are constantly urged to look at yourself from the inside out and really discover what it is that makes you tick. I believe not only that I am a thinner person because of the program, but I am growing into a more confident person, a more compassionate person and a far more spiritual person than I ever was.
"Have I completely evolved? I hope not, but I am beginning to like the person I am becoming. I thank God for answering my prayers when I felt completely hopeless. I still remember the tears flowing down my face as I spoke with the EAP counselor when I found out the insurance would no longer pay for weight loss surgery and I felt the last door had been closed in my face. She told me of the group that was going to be trialed and gave me Rick’s name. I wish I knew if that counselor was still with EAP; I would like to see her today. I just want to say THANK YOU to each and every one of you at the Bridges to Weight Management Program! What a difference all of you have made in my life. I actually can say that I have my life back now!”
S.F., an employee at Community Hospital East who participated in both How to Eat and Whatever it Takes in 2008, reported her experience in the "Maintain no Gain" program in 2008: “I participated in this program and “weighed-out” this morning. I was curious how approaching Christmas eating with permission, intention and focus might affect my weight. Imagine my surprise when I was 5½ pounds less than when I began. (Which I think was about 6 weeks ago?) I REALLY enjoyed the eating associated with the holidays, even with my mother looking over my shoulder for five days. Nothing was off limits. The eating with permission concept has been personally liberating. In case you can't tell, I'm so glad I took the “How to Eat” course.”
She also mentions that, despite no significant weight loss in 2008, all of her biomeasures improved significantly.
J.W. has been involved in How to Eat, Nutrition 101 and counseling and writes, “How do I measure my success with improved weight management since counseling with Robin Stahl and Pam Estes? Not necessarily in what the weight scales reveal, but in how I think differently about the enjoyment of foods and how they can resource my physical body and give me the energy to achieve a healthier lifestyle. For those who must count weight loss or clothes size change, I will tell you that I have lost more than 10 lbs (slowly, but permanently) and have reduced three pant sizes! I must tell you that I am more excited about how I love foods now and delight in making good choices of food. Now, I must admit there are times when I make not-so-good choices, but I do feel liberated to make choices. Making good choices empowers me! It gives me the confidence that no matter how long it will take (years), I will continue to lose weight and enjoy the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices.
"Both Robin and Pam have held me accountable to my own self-directed goals of drinking a healthy amount of water a day, obtaining eight hours of sleep per night and exercising. I have joined Curves in July 2007 (as a Community employee, I obtained a discounted registration fee) and have kept my commitment to myself to exercise 3x weekly. My body tells me that better nutrition combined with exercise helps strengthen me! Thanks again for Bridges to Weight Management. It has been a life saver to me. It is not about what foods I should not eat, like I have been told by physicians and diet programs, but how food can enrich my life."
R.R., an employee at Community Hospital Anderson writes, “I am a long-time CHA employee and I feel compelled to relate to you the positive influences on my life I have realized through health improvement programs offered by Community Health Network. A positive attitude toward these programs was not always the case on my part, I am now sorry to say. The first time health screenings were done at CHA I received a follow-up call asking of my interest in exercise or weight programs. Weighing over 310 pounds and being very negative in my answers, the caller suggested that perhaps the best offering for me was to remove me from the call back list. This I readily agreed to. It was my feeling at that time that the network only cared that I was able to clock in, work my tour of duty without a time loss accident, and go home. Beyond that, I felt it was none of their business what I weighed or how much I exercised.
"I later became aware of the Bridges to Health programs as they were expanded to include CHA employees. I signed on purely out of financial interest, feeling I would listen to the ballyhoo periodically in order to obtain free medicines. To my surprise, which I reluctantly acknowledged at first, I found my pharmacist, Kathleen Haines, to be genuinely interested in helping me achieve better health through control of Type II diabetes. Thanks to her efforts, I have maintained better control of this problem and have been much more faithful in seeing my primary care physician for blood work and monitoring. After our physician mentioned Lap-Band surgery to my wife and I, we decided to check into the Bridges to Weight Management program. I was wary at first and felt that losing 10% of my weight was a hill I would never climb. I had dieted on and off for years with varied success, but always lapsed back into old habits and sedentary lifestyle. I wondered WHY would THIS program work any better. I must admit my main reason for getting into the program was to show support for my wife's efforts. Again, the program was a financial boon with the cost being zero to us. Both my wife and I have far exceeded our expectations for success with the program. For whatever reason, we have become highly motivated and have learned valuable things to try and use in the classes and groups we have attended. Erin, our coach has maintained contact and been very good guiding us through to this point.
“I especially want to applaud the efforts and CARING shown by all we have contacted during the program. Robin Stahl from Nutrition 101, Laura Parks from Whatever it Takes group, and Chris Garrity, personal trainer, have all been the greatest of help to both my wife and I. They have all been most supportive and understanding without any hint of being judgmental. They are very professional, yet relaxed and personal during their classes and meets. They offer useful suggestions and insights that we have been able to apply which have aided us in our efforts very much. Last, but my no means least, I laud Dr. Charles Williams. His supervision and monitoring have been a most valuable motivating factor for us. So, you can see, I hope how I have been transformed from a 300-pound plus morbidly obese person with a very poor self-esteem as far as weight goes and an attitude to match to a 251 pound (as of today) obese believer who is now most thankful that I work in a system that CARES GENUINELY about its employees to offer such programs, giving them an opportunity to realize life-changing improvement.
"This transformation has taken place in three short months. I don't have any number goals per se, my goal being to continue to eat responsibly and exercise regularly. If I do this I am confident I will continue to lose weight and become more healthy. I have this week had one diabetes medication stopped and am hopeful of getting off the others as well as perhaps B/P medicine eventually. When asked what I am doing to lose, I smile and tell them about Bridges to Weight Management!! Neither my wife nor I are really thinking about surgical intervention as we consider this not a diet, but a change in how we live and eat. She has lost 30+ pounds in the program as well. Doing it together has been a real key for us as we support one another's effort.”
A.S. writes, “For me to explain how my life has changed, I need to explain what it was like for me before March 2007. Obesity is not a condition you wish to be in. It is not necessarily a matter of being an undisciplined person, as so many think. For me it was a feeling of failure, self loathing, and disgust, even though I consider myself a well-educated person and reasonably successful at what I do. My answer to this was the next diet out on the market. Yes, that was me, a chronic dieter. I tried them all……and I was successful at dieting, it was after I met my goal weight that I was unsuccessful. I would lose it and then end up gaining it all back again. The shame I felt every time I ran into someone that knew me in my thinner state only to see me the next time in my fatter state was so humiliating. I cannot even describe on paper how badly I felt about myself.
"I trained myself not to be hungry and in the process lost all sense of hunger, knowing when I had enough, knowing what I needed or when I needed it. If I ate any “bad” food I would chastise myself to near starvation as penance and then eventually I would give up until the guilt and shame made me discipline myself yet again to another diet. During this time, I had acid reflux daily and took medication to stave it off. I could barely stand to go shopping for more than thirty minutes because I had such severe hip pain if I did. Shopping for clothes was torturous. Looking in a mirror at myself was humiliating and a sense of disgust would wash over me time and again as I tried to find something I could wear. I was so frustrated and desperation to find something that would work for me became my quest.
"Then, I heard about Bridges to Weight Management and I decided once again to discipline myself to another diet. By this time in my life…over 31 years of dieting unsuccessfully, I knew diets didn’t really work for me but I didn't know any other way. What I didn't know was that I was about to embark on a program far from a diet. I met Pam Estes from Health Promotions and entered the How To Eat program. During the next several weeks meeting with Pam, I learned so many things about eating and eventually I learned what it felt like to eat that one bite too much. I had lost all that in the dieting merry-go-round. I learned to reflect on what sounded good, and what foods satisfied me, so I didn't want to snack all the time. I learned about how to use fat, protein and carbohydrates, and how to get the most out of them. The bonus in learning this was no more medication for acid reflux. Suddenly the excess weight started dropping off of me. I learned to pay attention to what and how I was eating and how food made me feel as I ate.
"The second most important thing I learned was to exercise. I was a totally sedentary person before…the classic “couch potato”. Pam encouraged me to do something every day. I wasn't too crazy about this because I hated to exercise. It was boring and I told myself I didn't have the time. I had every intention of only following through with this part of the program until I wasn't meeting with her anymore. I bought some bands at the store and my niece showed me some things to do with them and I started with five minutes a day, knowing Pam would ask. That got boring…..fast. I was motivated to find something else to do because after all, if I had to do this I might as well find something I could like. I bought a badminton set and we played in the evenings as a family. Ten minutes of this the first time and I thought I was going to literally die, let alone ever breathe again! It was more fun than the bands, though. Then I discovered the park had a great track around it, so I decided to try walking. The first time around the track, I made it half way, four-tenths of a mile, and I could barely move, my hips hurt so badly, but the only way back to my car was to crawl or keep on walking. I discovered that day the more I walked the less I hurt. This was amazing! I began to walk the track every day and it didn't matter if it rained or it was 100 degrees out, I was out there walking that track. It didn't take long to make it around twice, then three times. I joined the Body Zone and started using the treadmill and taking Zumba classes. Now I do Zumba twice a week most weeks and I walk that treadmill as often as possible and work with a personal trainer for strength training.
"So, you may ask, how much has my life changed and what has all this meant to me?
- I am healthier than I have ever been in my life.
- I enjoy walking.
- I love to try new ways to get some exercise in.
- I look for interesting things to cook and eat.
- I know when I have had enough, which is SO exciting.
- I don't have acid reflux anymore.
- My hips don't hurt.
- I have so much more energy.
- I enjoy clothes shopping.
- I have dropped 45-48 pounds, depending on the day.
- I enjoy eating what I want.
- I love to cook again (I had given this up previously because I felt so bad about food).
- I eat chocolate almost daily and enjoy it without feeling guilty about it.
- I can look in a mirror and not be sick over my image--this is huge for me.
- I can eat in front of others now (previously, I felt I didn't deserve to eat because I was so fat, so I didn't eat much or any at meetings, etc.).
- I fit in airplane seats much better.
- I love to Zumba!
- Strength training has made me so much stronger.
- I have more stamina.
- I drink water and lots of it (I used to only drink diet sodas).
- My cholesterol dropped the first year from 208 to 178 and has leveled out at 184.
- My husband has put into practice the things I have learned in How To Eat. His cholesterol has dropped and he lost 20 lbs and has maintained that.
- I am so much more confident.
- I am altogether a happier person.
- I learned that I will never have to diet again!
"My life has never been better! This has really changed my whole life and I will never be the same again because of it.”
K.G. accomplished her 10% weight loss by working with Dr. Kluzinski and found him to be very supportive and helpful. I think that she would say that she learned to make better food choices by working with him. K.G. attended Whatever it Takes regularly and would often talk about how helpful she found the skill of mindfulness to be with her eating habits and stress management. K.G. really took to exercising on a regular basis and learned how to keep it challenging and have fun at the same time. She had her surgery in early November and was told that she was very healthy going into the surgery. This really pleased her. I think it was a confirmation that her efforts had some pay off besides just weight loss. She was seen for a follow-up visit with me in February and was very pleased with her continued weight loss since surgery. She stated that she thinks that her participation in the BTWM prior to surgery has helped with her post surgery adjustment. She really got the “lifestyle” of a healthy person and was not having difficulty giving up certain foods or portion control. AND she continues to exercise!
C.B. was someone who at one time thought about the possibility of bariatric surgery but had so much success learning and implementing tools that she learned through BTWM that she did not proceed with surgery. She worked with Dr. Kluzinski and was very thankful for the initial weight loss. At a certain point she decided that she wanted a less restrictive plan and began to focus on more mindful eating and making healthier choices. She also incorporated regular exercise. C.B. attended Whatever it Takes, the Body Image workshop and did individual work to support learning how to balance life and live life as a thinner person. She has a wonderful attitude and really understands that the journey she is on is one for life. In total, she has lost over 100 pounds in her two years of participation in BTWM.
C.N. started with the BTWM program in January 2007. She writes, “I feel honored to share my experience with this program and Health Promotions and so grateful for the opportunity to work for an organization that was willing to help their employees become healthier.” She started with CHIP classes and really enjoyed them. She tried food she had never had before and continues to eat some soy products to this day. In 2008, C.N. started with the Physician Managed Program. “This was a tremendous help for me.” The accountability was very helpful as was Dr. Williams’ way of getting to know her personally and using that knowledge to help her when the things were difficult. “He encourages me and motivates me to want to meet my goals.”
C.N. also utilized the services of Chris Garrity, a BTWM personal trainer. “Chris encourages you to go outside your comfort zone to see what is there, and in my case I found something I enjoy doing now. He pushes you like a trainer should, but in a positive way that makes you want to meet those goals you set up together.” C.N. also met with Robin Stahl, a BTWM registered dietitian. “She has given me wonderful insights and suggestions to help me.” C.N. also encourages all participants to get involved in the Whatever it Takes support groups. She spoke highly of Laura Parks, the facilitator of the groups. C.N. had high praise for the staff: “They truly care about you and your goals. All are always an e-mail away if you are struggling, have a question or any need that is there. I honestly don't believe I would have had the success I have had so far without them.” She continues, “I want everyone to realize that even though life can cause many interruptions you CAN and HAVE to make time for yourself. BTWM is NOT a diet plan. It's a life changing plan.”