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Lifestyle change is working

Between the Lines



Two weekends ago, the time arrived for an overdue task. Throwing out clothes. Not just worn-out duds, but plenty of nice stuff.

This was therapy. Psychological therapy.

It also was a matter of following orders.

As readers may recall ("Starting down a new path," Between the Lines, Dec. 4), last fall I undertook a lifestyle change, specifically avoiding a certain four-letter word (diet). After performing miserably on a stress test, tipping the scales at a ridiculously high weight, and hearing my regular doctor and cardiologist advise lap-band surgery, I decided first to try willpower — with the help of a health coach, Andrea Castle.

That was right around Oct. 1, 2013. Next week will mark six months on the program. Each Friday morning, I check my weight and report it to Andrea.

Last Friday, that number reached a new low — and this is where real numbers finally begin to come out. I was too unsure, and honestly too embarrassed, to go that far before now. It's still not easy; I didn't tell my wife until a few weeks ago.

On Sept. 26 at the cardiology clinic, I weighed a gut-stretching 310 pounds. As of March 21, I was down to 251 — 59 pounds lighter.

As Andrea put it bluntly during a recent visit, "You've basically lost a young child."

With a long way yet to go. As statistical charts confirm, I still qualify for that most humiliating of adjectives: obese. It's a sad, painful, even depressing word when it applies to you. My goal is simple: lose enough to shed the dreaded o-word, and never go back over that line again.

With Andrea's help, that goal now seems sensible. She has worked many years in the hotel business locally, but for a long time she also had to deal with the o-word. Then she decided to go back to college and gain the expertise to help others, while changing her own life — dropping a stunning 140 pounds. Degree in hand, she's been slowly adding clients around her usual hospitality work. (Many have asked, so here's her email: Or go to

She helps analyze your situation, gives you a daily target for maximum calories (1,500 for me) and provides information about what to eat and avoid. The message comes through so much more effectively knowing Andrea has been down the same path, dealing with the same emotions, not so long ago. You simply have to be accountable to yourself.

Her strategy includes one "cheat day" a week, which helps avoid letdowns and fools the body into maintaining a higher rate of metabolism for the other days. Of course, that "cheat day" has evolved into more like just a cheat meal, with only rare major explosions of caloric intake.

But this isn't one of those quick-reward plans. It's a permanent change. At first, my weight was coming off at anywhere from one to five pounds a week; more recently, it's just a pound or two. Or none, after the early flab came off. In fact, this latest stretch between 50 and 60 total pounds lost has gone much more slowly.

Yet I finished going from the first notch to the last on several belts, then happily went out to buy a new one, along with new pants. For years I'd been stuck at a waist size of 46 to 48. Now it's down to 42, snug but comfortable. As for shirts, I've gone from 4XL to 2XL, closing in on XL.

Andrea had made it firmly clear from the start that at some point I'd have to attack the closet.

"And don't just store the big clothes away in case you need them later," she said. "You have to throw them out, because you won't need them again."

When that day finally came, it brought a huge new wave of satisfaction.

But the results aren't just about clothes. More people are starting to notice. I'm eating better, feeling better, sleeping better, concentrating better, able to run up flights of stairs or take a brisk walk without being winded in the slightest.

No gimmicks, just being more aware — and determined.

And believe me, after dealing with weight issues for so many years, if I can do this, so can you. Or anyone.

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