BOISE, Idaho - You’re eating healthy foods. You’re working out and being active. You’ve lost 5, 10, 20 pounds or more. Yay for you! But now what? For many people losing the weight is only half of the weight loss challenge. Keeping the weight off is the other half.
Lori Glaeser knows all about losing the weight – and keeping it off. Her New Year’s resolution in 2012 was to lose weight. After having her gallbladder removed, she quickly learned she could no longer eat her normal diet of the fried and fatty foods. “I felt miserable. I was really sick from the foods I was eating,” Lori recalls.
She joined St. Luke’s Humphreys Diabetes Center’s $10,000 Treasure Valley Weight Loss Challenge as a way to help motivate her to start making some lifestyle changes. “I thought maybe if I lose some weight, I could go off my blood pressure medicine,” she said. “My heartburn might go away. I could be more active!”
During the Challenge, she lost 60 pounds and another 10 afterward. She was feeling good and looking good! There were times when she didn’t want to think about exercising, or counting her calories, but she would recall why she started this journey in the first place. “I remembered feeling miserable, how sick I felt, and then recognized how good I feel now. It kept me going.”
She joined the Weight Loss Challenge again in January 2013 as more motivation, and lost an additional 15 pounds and has been able to go off of her blood pressure medicines. “I have changed my behavior and my outlook,” Lori beams. “This is a way of life. I had to change the way I think about food, the way I think about exercise.”
Dr. Amy Walters, director of Behavioral Health Services at St. Luke’s Humphreys Diabetes Center, agrees with Lori’s assessment – for successful, long-term weight loss, there must be a change in thinking and behavior.
“We often have engrained ideas about eating and exercise, which come from our early experiences but now sabotage our weight loss goals,” Dr. Walters said.
Some of the common beliefs that get in the way include things like, “I should always clean my plate,” “I really need dessert after dinner to feel satisfied”, and “If I have a bad day I just need to cope with alcohol, chocolate, or my good friends Ben and Jerry (ice cream).”
“By identifying our negative or unhealthy beliefs about food and exercise, we can start to remove barriers that interfere with positive behavior change,” says Dr. Walters.
But changing your thinking and behaviors doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. It helps to look at our environment and make changes that support your goals. For example, if you are trying to decrease your junk food intake, it isn’t helpful to have a large bag of Cheetos on the counter and a backup of Doritos readily available in the pantry for emergencies. Get the unhealthy foods out of the house and remove the temptation.
“Make the healthy choice the easy choice – have healthy snacks you enjoy on hand and easily accessible,” Dr. Walters says. “If you are struggling to change your eating habits, look at your environment.”
You also need to have realistic expectations about healthy weight loss and be prepared for relapse. About 90 percent of people who lose weight experience some degree of re-gain. Relapse is part of the change process. Don’t panic! All is not lost – a brief relapse does not negate all your hard work (after all, we don’t stop brushing our teeth just because we fell asleep on the couch and forgot one night). Instead, regroup, look at what has worked in the past and start again. The only way to move forward toward your health goals is to take a step in that direction, and lasting health behavior change is made one small step at a time.
“The effort is all so incredibly worth it to feel this good,” Glaeser says.
Meet This Year's Winners
On June 6, six Treasure Valley residents walked away a little bit richer – and a whole light lighter! A total of $10,000 in cash prizes were awarded to the top three men and the top three women who lost the largest percentage of body weight during the past five months in the St. Luke’s Humphreys Diabetes Center’s $10,000 Treasure Valley Weight Loss Challenge. The top male and female each received $3,000, second place male and female got $1,500, and the third place male and female, $500.
“This is the fifth time we have hosted the Weight Loss Challenge, and the results continue to amaze and inspire us,” Marketing Director Lisa Gonser said. “We had 99 people as finalists in the Challenge, and they all had a story to tell about how they have lost weight, improved their health and changed their lives. And out of those 99 people, 72 percent lost more than 5 percent of their body weight, reducing their risk for type 2 diabetes by half!”
The region-wide Challenge began in January with 634 participants from throughout the Valley. They received weekly nutrition and fitness e-tips, participated in weekly support and walking groups, and attended free activities including cooking classes, support groups, zumba classes and nutrition talks! Collectively, they lost more than 4,000 pounds!
The next $10,000 Treasure Valley Weight Loss Challenge will launch on Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014.
First Place Woman: Daphne Mallory, Won $3,000, Lost 83.2 pounds – 40.82 percent of her bodyweight
Daphne knew that health and well-being was the key to her family’s success – and it had to start with her. She exercised – zumba, sprinting, boxing, walking and high-intensity work outs. She ate better, following the Atkins diet and incorporating organic foods and lots of filtered water. Her family was a huge support. They babysat, encouraged her to keep up her new habits and didn’t complain about the food and exercise changes in their home. The YMCA staff also was supportive, offering her encouragement and holding classes even if she was the only one who attended. Daphne is committed to her new lifestyle and plans to start participating in local races with her husband.
First Place Man: Shea Morin, Won $3,000, Lost 124 pounds – 37 percent of his bodyweight
Shea wrote to us and said, “Having your 12-year-old son tell you that he is proud of you is the greatest feeling in the world!” His family was his biggest support. His wife, Hilary, prepared healthy meals for him and offered love, support and words of encouragement. His boys, Trevor and Treygen, were always there to say “good job Dad, you can do it!” And when Shea felt like quitting, his boys reminded him that they were not allowed to quit, so he couldn’t quit. His parents also offered healthy meals when he was at their house and complimented him on his hard work.
Shea started off by walking a mile on the treadmill every evening, and gradually increased his speed. Now he is up to jogging 8 miles on a 15 percent incline, up to five times a week, and does strength training for 40 minutes each session, three-times a week. He ate lots of lean meats and vegetables, in five or six meals a day, and included lots and lots of water.
Seeing his ‘before’ pictures will help keep him committed to his new healthy lifestyle. “I don’t ever want to be that guy again,” Shea says. He wants to live a long, healthy life with his family. One of his greatest moments was when his son gave him a hug and could bring his hands together when he reached around Shea’s waist! Shea plans to continue to eat right and go to the gym. He even likes going to the gym now!
Second Place Woman: Heidi Milburn, Won $1,500, Lost 70.2 pounds – 33.17 percent of bodyweight
Heidi loved that her clothes were getting bigger and bigger on her. It was a great motivator to continue on her healthier path!
She worked out six days a week, doing 1 to 1.5 hours of cardio, and incorporating some weight training. She ate a high protein, low-carb diet.
Her family, friends and co-workers were all very supportive during the entire Challenge, complimenting her on any progress she made, regardless of how big or small it was.
Heidi plans to continue with her healthy eating and work-out plan to stay at her new weight!
Second Place Man: Andrew Bolduc, Won $1,500, Lost 88.8 pounds – 35.43 percent of bodyweight
Andrew says, “Carrying around a 79-pound backpack on your stomach is hard on your body, especially when you have knee problems. Keeping myself healthy, working order has always been important to me. I just started slipping along the way. I don’t plan on slipping anymore!”
He started walking at regular intervals on a daily basis, logging 12-19 miles almost daily. He also did low-weight, high-repetition weight training and circuit training. Toward the end of the Challenge, he started including jogging and running. Andrew ate five to six times a day, avoiding high fats and empty carbohydrates.
Andrew found weighing himself regularly and trying on old clothes and feeling them get more comfortable was motivating. He was also on the verge of pre-diabetes, and at his most recent physical, his fasting blood sugars, cholesterol, heart rate and blood pressure had all improved significantly! His wife supported him by preparing foods and exercising with him. Friends and other family members encouraged him to keep pushing himself, and his dog, who loves to go jogging and swimming, was also a great motivator.
Third Place Woman: Michealle Flores, Won $500, Lost 48.8 pounds, 30.27 pounds of bodyweight
Michealle loved the way she started to feel and look as she started to lose weight. “As I dropped clothing sizes, it encouraged me to keep going,” she explains. She followed a 1200 calorie meal plan, eating lots of high-fiber foods and lean protein. She tracked all of it on MyFitnessPal.com. For activity, she did mostly cardio machines at the gym and walked her dogs. Her sister Lisa was her biggest supporter, taking walks with Michealle and kept her from raiding the fridge! Michealle plans to just continue with her new eating and exercise habits to stay healthy!
Third Place Man: Doug Hoiland; Won $500, Lost 80.6 pounds, 35.35 pounds of bodyweight
Doug isn’t into the group thing. It was just him and his MP3 player, out walking. He started out walking 4 miles, five days a week and worked his way up to 6-8 miles a day, five days a week. He also rode the stationary bike for 60 minutes. And during the past six weeks, he added jogging 3 miles, six days a week. Since January he has logged more than 1,000 miles!
He also changed his eating habits, eliminating all candy, pastries, chips, pat and anything with refined sugar or white flour. He only ate one serving – no seconds and thirds – and his portions were much smaller. He cooked small, basic meals for himself.
Lisa Gonser is a community resource coordinator at St. Luke's.