How One Local Couple Used Health Scares as Fuel for Healthy Changes
At the time, both Tina and Tony were experiencing health issues. Tina, now 60, had been told by her doctor that she was in danger of developing diabetes. Her husband, Tony, 59, had thickened aortic tissue that left him feeling breathless and weak whenever he exerted himself.
The Dearborn Heights residents, both teachers, turned their frightening news into a mutual wake-up call. They’ve each lost more than 85 pounds and are in excellent health today. Here’s how they did it.
Making the decisionOver the years, Tina watched her weight creep up to 217 pounds on her 5-foot-1 frame. But it was her husband’s health that motivated her to do something about it. “Tony was experiencing a lot of heart-related issues, and they were pretty scary,” she says. “I thought, how can I tell him he needs to lose weight when I do too?” So, she signed up for Weight Watchers® through HAP at a discounted rate in July 2012. Tony signed up the following month.
Tony, at 5-foot-7, weighed 276 pounds when he embarked on his lifestyle change. “What originally motivated me was I getting dangerously close to 300 pounds and I didn’t want to cross that threshold,” he says. Learning about his heart condition was the additional push he needed. “I considered that as getting the wake-up call without the scare,” he says. “I didn’t have a heart attack or have a bypass or anything, but I figured I had to do something about it.”
Changing their eating habitsWith Weight Watchers, the couple used a point system that helped them gauge their food intake based on their weight and gender. “I love Weight Watchers – they teach a whole lifestyle,” says Tony. “They never tell you that you can’t eat something. Instead, they educate you on the consequences of what you do eat.”
The couple started cooking their own healthy meals and upped their intake of produce, which is low in Weight Watchers points. “I’ve never eaten as many fruit and vegetables as I have in the past four years!” says Tina.
Their biggest challenge has been socializing when they’re surrounded by calorie-laden foods. Their solution is to bring their own diet-friendly dishes like veggie or fruit trays. “We take small portions and eat slowly, and we keep busy socializing to avoid the food table,” she says. “We aren’t always successful, but when we aren’t, we just let that day go and get up the next morning, hit the ‘reset’ button and start over, trying to do our best to stay within our point allotment for the day.”
Deciding to move moreThe couple also made a conscious choice to become more active. “Prior to losing weight, we did nothing but walk our dog,” says Tina. “It was an effort to bend over and tie our shoes.” After Tina had lost about 20 pounds, she bought a workout video. “I love aerobic dance routines, so I found one and popped it in,” she says. She now has six different dance videos that she uses Monday through Friday.
Tony started out with short walks, eventually building to walking and jogging five miles at a time. The couple also started exercising together. “Biking is our favorite thing,” says Tina. “We got a bike rack and have started taking our bikes on vacation.”
Even after reaching their weight-loss goals, the couple have continued to eat healthy meals and exercise regularly. Tony, who has since retired, now cooks most of the couples’ meals. “We fix meals that we know are Weight Watchers-compatible … that makes it easier to stay within our points budget,” says Tony. The two are planning more biking vacations with family and are excited about their healthier futures.
“The changes are incredible, from head to toe,” agrees Tony. “I started out with a waist size of 48 inches and now I wear a 34-inch waist pant. And I can run without my knees hurting.”
The couple believes that with help and support, anyone can lose weight. “We see so many people who could benefit from this kind of lifestyle change,” says Tony. “I feel like if I can do it, they can do it. It’s just a matter of making that decision.” To learn about HAP’s Weight Management Program, go to hap.org/loseweight.
Small changes to help you lose weight
To shed pounds, you needn’t make a radical lifestyle overhaul. These small changes can help:
- Drink more water. Swap out soda or juice for water and drink water throughout the day.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. These foods are low in calories but help you feel full.
- Measure your portions. Simply measuring what you eat will help you consume less.
- Avoid multitasking. You’ll eat more while watching TV or checking Facebook.
- Move more. A pedometer can help track your steps and encourage you to be more active.
As part of our commitment to healthy living and preventive medicine, we’ve partnered with Weight Watchers to give our members a discount. Join a 12-week session for only $99. After the initial first session, the cost is $119 for each 12-week session as long as you keep re-enrolling. The program includes online tools including a bar code scanner and activity tracker, which make it much easier to keep tabs on the food you eat.
To sign up for Weight Watchers, follow these steps:
1. Log in to your hap.org account.
2. Select “HAP Member Discounts” from the Quick Links menu.
3. Scroll to the Weight Watchers to get the promo code.
4. Enter the code here to sign up.