"It Was Hard to Admit I Needed Help"
Patient: Jeff, age 43
Occupation: Operations Executive
Program: Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD) through Dean's Comprehensive Weight Management Program
Results: Lost 65 pounds and has remained at or below his goal weight since June 2008
As a former college football player — now a father and operations executive — Jeff solves problems. He's the one people get to fix things. So it was particularly difficult for him to admit he needed help with anything, much less something as personal as his weight.
"One of the hardest parts for me was admitting that I was overweight and could not solve this problem on my own," he shares. "In every other instance of my life, I'd prided myself on always being able to solve the problems I faced. In this case, I couldn't do that, and it took me a long time to come to grips with that."
But someone's innocent off-hand comment changed all that.
"I've always been a larger guy," Jeff explains. "At 6'3" and 280 pounds, I played college football at Northwestern. But then I got a job and a family, and the time to workout really faded to the side of the road."
Unfortunately, the eating habits he had developed as an athlete didn't translate well into a normal lifestyle devoid of four-hour or sometimes five-hour workouts each day.
"Suddenly, I found myself back up to my playing weight, but the weight was distributed on my frame very differently," he chuckles. "That innocent comment really put everything into stark contrast about where I was physically and where I wanted to be."
Jeff tried popular diets, like Atkins®, and lost about 20 pounds. However, he found these diets weren't "sustainable," in his words.
"There are a million diets that allow you to take weight off very quickly," says Jeff. "But for me, nothing was really, truly sustainable."
Acquiring the Right Tools to "Fix It"
Jeff chose Dean's Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD). He lost 67 pounds within six months, dropping from 287 pounds down past his goal weight to a healthier 220. Now he maintains at about 225.
"The thing that's different about this program is the weekly meetings to educate and support you through the process," claims Jeff. "Every week, I see 20 other people who totally get what I'm going through. And the staff really keeps you on track."
Jeff admits he really needed a program that produced fast, significant results to stay motivated, but the Dean Comprehensive Weight Management Program gave him so much more.
"Dean's VLCD provides a proven program, but also teaches you to sustain the weight loss," he explains. "They constantly monitor your health for safety. The classes help you figure out what puts you in a spin and gives you tools to handle those situations. For instance, I'm a volume eater. I need to eat a lot when I eat. I haven't changed that, but now I eat three apples instead. They teach you about food substitutions. They have the technical expertise to deal with both the philosophical and the practical issues surrounding weight loss. They have the experience to help you through the tough times because they've seen everything here before. They give you the skills and the support network you need to make these changes for good. I mean, by far the hardest challenge long term will be keeping the weight off. But I think the program has armed me with the tools to successfully do just that. So far, so good."
"The reality is that having no time is an easy cop-out. It's truly just an excuse," Jeff declares. "I have a very stressful position at my company. I worked 12-hour days, starting very early in the morning. I swore I had no time for exercise. But I gave up some time at the beginning of my day to workout, and now I actually get more done, especially at the end of the day. I'm more focused at work. I sleep better. In the end, once I faced up to the situation and did something about it, I became a better employee and better at home, too."
As a former athlete, Jeff says that a daily exercise routine was something he didn't realize he actually missed.
"I used to enjoy running, but I had gotten out of the habit," he shares. "By doing something every day, I've worked myself up to running half marathons. It was really hard at the beginning, but after about six months it became part of my routine. Now a side benefit is getting an hour to myself every day."
Jeff has noticed other benefits, too. Playing basketball was getting harder. Now he plays better and easier. While he had no immediate, serious health issues, both his blood pressure and his cholesterol have dropped to even healthier levels. He's had asthma since the third grade. Now he rarely needs any medication. He's more focused and able to stay on task longer. His energy levels are up, and his stamina is much better.
"When you're in the midst of the program, it's not easy," he says. "But in the end, it's made me better all the way around. And I've got to say that if I can do this, then anyone can."