Monday, January 4, 2010

Weight Watcher Ron - My Role Model for Commitment and Goal Achievement

Since Thanksgiving, the same thing happened to me that happens to millions of Americans during the holidays - I gained more than 5 pounds. Parties, family gatherings, food, wine, football, basketball, snacks, beer. Woo-hoo! If that isn't enough to drive me to a New Year's resolution, I don't know what is.

During that same period of time, a good friend of mine LOST more than five pounds!

Not only that, but he's been on a steady weight-loss program for about two years, and he's lost a total of 60 pounds. In May of 2007, Ron Wilson, a long-time friend, weighed 240 pounds. Now he weighs 180 pounds - very close to his goal weight.

Yes, millions of people lose weight every year, and many of them actually keep it off. That means I can do it, too. So can you. How Ron did it is both instructive and inspirational. Here's his story...

Back in 2002, Ron was motivated by the symptoms of Type II diabetes to sign up for the Weight Watchers program. You may know that Weight Watchers is a no-gimmick approach to losing weight. It involves diet, nutrition education, exercise, coaching and - most of all for Ron - counting and recording "points" in a journal. Losing weight is actually a simple activity. You lose weight every day that you expend more calories than you intake in food. But you don't know whether you're doing that unless you measure and keep track.

Well, it worked. During 2002, Ron lost 50 pounds in 9 months. When he achieved his goal and he shifted to "maintenance," he felt he no longer needed to keep a record of his food intake. Also, he was the Chief Legal Officer for a big company, and the time-demands and stress of that job caused him to snack more and exercise less. Slowly, he gained all those 50 pounds back. Plus 10 more pounds. It's an old story.

But in 2007 Ron retired, and he resolved to make some permanent life changes. A diabetic at the age of 62 and with a history of heart disease in his family, he felt that if he didn't change his lifestyle, he would be risking his life. He wanted to exercise regularly and eat more sensibly. He signed up for Weight Watchers again, this time with renewed motivation. He wanted to reduce his medications. He wanted to be able to enjoy activities like hiking and SCUBA diving. His goal was to lose 60 pounds before 2010.

This time, he had more going for him than motivation. For one thing, the work-related stress in his life was gone, and he had more time for exercise. For another, he had the support of his wife, Eileen, who participated in the program with him. Also, he had a great coach with Debby, the program director at their weekly Weight Watcher meetings.

In addition, Ron relied on self-discipline and perseverance, both strong suits for someone who had practiced law for decades. He quickly got back into the habit of measuring food and recording his intake. At the end of every day, he knew for sure whether he had burned more calories than he had taken in.

He and Eileen went to the gym five times a week. And when arthritis made it hard to put in time on the treadmill, he took up swimming.

Then something wonderful happened. He found that what he was doing had become a habit. Which meant that doing all the right things wasn't so much a matter of personal strength anymore. It was simply the way he lived his life. He had ingrained new behavior patterns.

I asked him how he stayed on track during the holidays. He said that he looked at parties and get-togethers as "high-risk" situations, which made him more vigilant than ever.

In short, Ron is a real Weight Watchers success story. This time he'll do "maintenance" right. He took the weight off slowly. He doesn't eat the way he used to. During the past two years, he's made permanent changes in his lifestyle. Going forward, he'll continue journaling, just to be sure that his daily intake equals the calories consumed in activity.

And that's how you're supposed to do it. Anybody can lose a lot of weight fast. That doesn't mean beans if you gain the weight back.

So Ron's story has inspired me. I'm telling it here so that it will inspire you, too. Ron didn't make any New Year's resolutions this year. He's already met his goal.

Other heroes of mine...


Meredith Bell said...

My personal experience is that nothing beats keeping a journal of what you're eating. It's amazing how easy it is for me to resist a high-calorie dessert or snack when I'm keeping a record of everything that goes in my mouth. This was the most important element of my weight loss 7 years ago.

david b mclaughlin said...

Fantastic story. Way to go!


Kathleen Scott said...

The best part is that he'll keep going strong, feeling good have a better longer life.

I think gym memberships should be tax deductible.