By Megan Malugani
In May 2010, Rochester Magazine profiled three inspiring individuals who had lost a combined total of more than 250 pounds through the HMR Weight Management Program at the Center for Weight Loss & Wellness at Olmsted Medical Center.
Despite some challenges—and temptations—in the past year and a half, all three profilees are still on track and determined to maintain their weight losses and healthier lifestyles.
MIKE & ERIN WIDMAN:
HEALTHY LIFESTYLES, HEALTHY ATTITUDES
When they were taking off pounds quickly a few years ago, Mike and Erin Widman made a deal that if one spouse gained the weight back, he or she would have to pay the other person the costs of the OMC program. Neither husband nor wife has had to cough up any money yet, according to Mike, but “it’s still on the table and we joke about it every once in awhile.”
Both Widmans are thrilled with the healthier lifestyles they’ve cultivated as a result of their weight losses, and are generally satisfied with the numbers on their scale.
Erin, who lost 39 pounds on the program,
weighs about five pounds more than she did at her lowest point, but considers herself in no major danger of a more dramatic gainback. While she still drinks meal replacement shakes on a daily basis, usually for lunch, she eats a full range of healthy foods as well, generally covering half her dinner plate with fruits and vegetables. Erin is constantly facing temptations in her workplace—the communal M&M bowl is her nemesis—but usually beats back her urge to splurge. “I know what’s right or wrong. I just have to make good choices, everyday,” she says.
In addition to eating right, Erin exercises faithfully. She trained for and completed the Med City half-marathon in May and has taken up biking. Both Erin and Mike travel around the country by motor home in the summers with their young sons, and stay active on their trips by walking and hiking.
Mike’s lowest post-program weight was 120 pounds less than his starting weight.
He did gain some of that weight back— around 20 pounds—when he transitioned away from eating only meal replacement shakes and re-introduced foods into his diet, when he decreased the intensity of his running regimen, and when “some of my old habits snuck in a little bit,” he says. However, Mike hasn’t gained any more weight back for several months. “Overall, I’m pretty happy. When I lost the weight I knew I’d get to a low point and then rebound a little.”
For Mike, the ongoing challenges are “those special occasions that seem to happen every day, like we’re on vacation, so we decide to get the kids ice cream. Or I think, ‘I had a really good day at work, so let’s grab pizza tonight because it’s quick and easy.’ We had broken that mindset of ‘let’s have a celebration and focus it around food,’ but it starts to creep back in.”
Not a day goes by that Mike isn’t conscious of the challenges—and rewards—of maintaining his new, healthy lifestyle. “You always have to watch it. I’m pretty confident in all my skills and knowledge, but things sneak up on you, like you realize you had two highcalorie meals in a day…. It’s knowing the plan and putting it in place and working it. It’s not simple and easy. Every day you have to consider how much you’re going to eat and what you’re going to burn off,” Mike says.
Mike and Erin remain realistic and evenkeeled about their minor ups and downs. “You expect the little roller coasters, and you just get back on track,” Erin says.
“A little wave up and down now and then is not a crisis,” Mike concurs. “It’s a lifestyle.”
A commitment from both spouses to a healthier lifestyle—not just for now, but forever—is instrumental to Mike and Erin’s long-term success, they say. “When you’ve had weight issues your whole life, it’s easy to go back to your old ways,” Erin says. “Having a partner with me 24/7 who is following the same program has been helpful.”
A NEW PERSPECTIVE
When Connie Jelatis-Hoke lost 120
pounds, she gained the ability to reach new heights—literally.
“I finally completed a goal I had when I lost weight to climb Crazy Horse during their annual Volksmarch,” says Jelatis- Hoke of the organized 6.2-mile, round-trip hike to the mountain carving in the Black Hills. “Those kinds of activities help me realize how far I’ve come and how much I’ve changed.”
Jelatis-Hoke—who tries to exercise an hour every day and enjoys activities ranging from rowing and paddling to weight training—has maintained a relatively consistent net loss since the original Rochester Magazine article appeared, with a few small gains and losses here and there.
Many of the habits she acquired during the program have become important parts of her life: she still finds inspiration, energy, and support in weekly group sessions with others who are in the OMC weight management program, and she still carries HMR meal replacements with her. “Having them with me allows me to make that choice and not get stuck in a totally unhealthy food situation with no options,” she says.
Jelatis-Hoke and her family also keep their fridge stocked with washed, ready-to-eat fruits and veggies. “We also try to keep out foods that we want to avoid,” she says. Jelatis- Hoke’s biggest challenge is to remain vigilant and mindful of what she chooses to eat and why. Planning and preparing for what Jelatis-Hoke calls “food encounters” is a big key to her continued success, but she sometimes gets weary of this necessity. “Or, if I’m tired or really stressed, it’s easy to try to energize with food, or just do mindless eating.”
Keeping an accurate written record of her eating and exercising is another key to Jelatis-Hoke’s ongoing success. “Even when I feel like I haven’t been doing so well, I can look at my records and be reminded that I’m really doing okay,” she says. For example, “even when I feel like I’ve really ‘pigged out,’ I look back at what I’ve eaten, and it’s such a far cry less and better than what I used to do.” She concludes: “Even if I go off on a jag, I know that I have the knowledge, tools, and new habits to keep me on track. And if I do stray, I no longer give up on everything. I know now what I need to do to keep on track.”