In October 2016, Lucas Iverson, information technology supervisor at Altru Health System, stepped on the scale at a regular doctor’s appointment.
“It said 3-0-1,’” he shares. “I got a little upset. I haven’t thought of myself as an ultra-fit or athletic person. I thought I could manage this. I realized all the things I had been trying to do weren’t working.”
After serving in the Navy for six years, Lucas noticed he was eating the same as he did while in service, but without the time spent exercising. He admits, “I was eating whatever I wanted and didn’t understand the consequences that went with doing that.”
About two years ago, at age 35, Lucas started to have elevated blood pressure. “It dawned on me that, ‘hey, maybe I can’t have a pound of bacon in the morning,’” he shares. “It was more than ‘I’d like to get in shape.’”
Taking the Next Step
At first, Lucas was skeptical.
“I’m struggling to eat right and exercise, and this would mean paying someone to tell me to eat right and exercise.”
It was the first time Lucas had seen the scale pass 300. He knew this pattern had to stop—now.
Gobble, Gobble (In Moderation)
With some direct-yet-gentle encouragement from Dr. Gomez, Lucas took the next step. A few weeks later, he met with Jennifer Haugen, registered dietitian. Of all days to start, it was the day before Thanksgiving.
“Jenn told me I don’t have to eat three heaping plates,” shares Lucas. “I can still enjoy Thanksgiving, just have a little bit of everything. It was one of the best Thanksgivings.”
With a structured diet and activity plan, weekly classes and weigh-ins, Lucas started to watch the weight melt off, which was motivation itself.
“It has to be a choice; you have to want to do it,” stresses Lucas. “It became easier as time went by. The classes didn’t just tell you what to do to lose weight. They told why it’s needed and how to make it work.”
Lucas found Altru’s Weight Management team of experts to be incredibly supportive throughout the process. “If you have questions, they’ll help you. And, it doesn’t feel like they’re reading a script when they explain things to you. It’s all individualized to meet your needs.”
Lucas continues, “The idea is to drop as much excess weight as possible right away. Then, you transition into regular foods that you buy at the grocery store. Then, you learn how to do it for the rest of your life.”
In Lucas’s opinion, the coaches made all the difference.
“Janet has been helpful from the get-go. Jenn has been extremely helpful and energetic. Rachel is inspirational and insistent about me reaching my activity goals. You could just feel that they were genuinely interested in people becoming healthier.”
Down 61 pounds since starting, Lucas is still a part of the program on a limited basis.
Lucas and his wife, Joanne, have worked together to keep the enticing foods out of their house.
“While she isn’t in the program, my wife is watching and supporting what I’m doing,” says Lucas. “We’ll have salads a lot more often. We watch how we cook. We’ll add cinnamon to sweet potatoes instead of a dollop of butter. Rather than buying tortilla chips, we’ll bake tortilla shells. It’s easier to make healthy choices together, and it’s those small tweaks that make an amazing difference.”
Rewards Outweigh the Struggle
For anyone considering making a change, Lucas offers this advice: “It doesn’t hurt to ask questions and get more information. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, to start. But once you get going, the rewards become the motivation. You’ll feel better. You’ll have more energy. Getting all the information is the best first step.”