Joe Myers, RN, Altru’s Administrative Director of Surgical Services, shares about his personal weight loss experience through Altru’s Weight Management Program.
My weight has been a challenge since I got out of the Army 40 years ago. After college, I put on a few pounds each year due to a much too sedentary lifestyle.
I have been in nursing since 1979 and employed at Altru for most of that time. As health care providers, I think we often overlook our own well-being. As our workday runs longer, we often lack time to cook properly or exercise regularly.
I made a conscious effort to reverse the trend about five years ago, when I began an exercise program through Altru’s Medical Fitness Center. Over a year, I lost about 35 pounds by exercising three to four times per week. I still had more to lose.
When I took a new position with longer hours, exercise went by the wayside and my weight started to creep up again. My A1C (I’m a type 2 diabetic) was increasing, and my degenerative knee disease was acting up again.
In December 2013, with my retirement date slightly over a year away, I spoke with my primary care physician, Dr. Shane Nygard, about Altru’s Weight Management Program. Within a few days, I was contacted about the specifics of the program.
Structure, Goals, Motivation
I had my baseline visit in mid-January. My realistic goal was to lose 45 pounds by the end of the sixth month. The program gave us a structure that helps to maintain focus on your goal. The diet is fairly rigid based on your caloric need.
Each week we had a weigh-in and classes that focused on either nutrition or exercise. Nearly 10 weeks into the program, I was close to my goal. Before 12 weeks, I had lost the 45 pounds and was determined to continue.
Stretching Beyond the Comfort Zone
Prior to the program, my exercise was limited to treadmill walking and weightlifting. Rachel Aure, Altru’s health and wellness specialist, exposed us to new exercises. I tried core strengthening, stretching, yoga, exercise ball workouts and more. In May, I discovered the rowing machine and began with 30 vigorous minutes, followed by brisk walking.
In June I transitioned from walking to running, which I honestly hadn’t done since leaving the Army. I tried my first mile and did it in a blazing 11:30. By July 14, I ran three miles straight. (I’m going to run the Wild Hog 5K in September, and in the spring I plan to do another 5K in Alabama with my grandkids.)
I have more energy, my knees feel better and I needed new clothes. At my recent six-month checkup, I also discovered:
- I had officially lost 53.8 pounds and a total of more than 22 inches.
- My blood pressure has dropped to normal range, so my medication has been cut in half.
- My A1C has returned to a normal reading, and all of my other lab work is great.
I have revised my goal to lose another 10 to 15 pounds. The program allows for modification and continuation, so I will continue weighing in and return to the weekly meetings as needed. The skills taught at the meetings will help me manage the day-to-day challenges of continuing and maintaining my weight loss.
I can’t say enough good things about Altru’s Weight Management Program and the Sanny and Jerry Ryan Center for Prevention and Genetics. Janet Schreier does a great job coordinating the program. Ann Mason is not only an excellent nurse practitioner, but also empathetic and supportive. Jennifer Haugen has a lot of knowledge and enthusiasm as the program dietitian, and Rachel Aure is exactly the right person to run the exercise program, as she is both encouraging and challenging.
Finally, I can’t say enough about my wife, Margaret. She has been incredibly supportive from the decision to begin the program, to all the changes in meal planning and the exercise regimen. We joined Choice Health & Fitness, where we have been regulars since January.
As the journey continues, we’re even closer to retirement. I’m looking forward to an active lifestyle with my extra free time. My wife and I are moving to North Carolina to winter near our girls and grandchildren, and we plan to spend summers near Detroit Lakes, MN. We will keep a gym membership, and we both enjoy golfing. Our children and their families are all active, and we are looking forward to keeping up with them.
If you or someone you know could benefit from healthy lifestyle changes like Joe, contact Altru’s Weight Management Program or the Sanny & Jerry Ryan Center for Prevention & Genetics.