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Health & Wellness

Success Stories: Weight Loss Matters

What You Need to Know: 

These inspiring stories are from fellow UK employees who have managed to lose weight using programs and resources offered through UK's Health & Wellness program. 

For Elizabeth Siereveld, Weight Loss Matters is a lifestyle rather than a weight loss program.

April of 2009 is when I officially signed up for my first 10 weeks of Weight Loss Matters. However, I had been thinking about joining the program in January of 2009 to be a part of the biggest loser competition. I guess I was too afraid and did not want to start the program without a buddy. So I found out that I was going to be in two weddings in October of 2009 and that is when I decided to join Weight loss matters to get ready for the two weddings.

I was nervous and scared because I felt like I had a lot of weight to lose and I didn’t know what to expect from the program. I also felt like I did not have any energy and became winded easily with aerobic exercise. I decided I was too young to be feeling that way and did not want to set myself up for hypertension and diabetes in the near future. If I could change anything about my decision to join weight loss matters I would have joined much sooner than I did, I would have never waited because WLM has given me my life back in so many different ways including my health and happiness.

The staff of WLM is great. Karen and Helen are always positive and encouraging me to succeed. They have given me so many tools for my toolbox of life to deal with weight issues and food choices. They have taught me that WLM and loosing weight is not about a quick fix but it is a lifestyle change. Karen and Helen and their support staff are always willing to go the extra mile to help me succeed by answering questions, introducing me to new healthy foods, and also providing resources to tackle the everyday challenge of loosing or maintaining your weight. I really would not have been as successful as I have been without the support from the WLM staff, my family, and friends.

My biggest challenge for weight loss has been myself. I have had to make a lot of changes to my daily routine and had to really get my mind in the right place to lose weight. Before beginning WLM I was a person who was running to McDonald’s once a week for a super sized meal and washing it down with a large soda, and now I realize that I don’t need fast food and I really do not want it. I can say that I have not had a value meal from McDonalds in over a year now and I don’t even miss it. My diet now consists of fresh food and most days of the week I eat at home, and not in restaurants. I feel that I can control my diet better if I prepare the food myself. I still crave food that is not so good for me now, but I make a conscious effort not to have those things in my house. WLM has also provided me the tools I need to make smarter, healthier choices when eating out at restaurants. I have to confess I do avoid the chip aisle at the grocery store because I know that if I go down that aisle a bag of potato chips will jump into my cart and go home with me. I have also had to plan my meals out and be prepared. I pack my lunch and breakfast every night before I go to bed so that I am not rushing around looking for things to eat during the day and also do not have an excuse to go eat in the cafeteria. WLM diet plan does not ban any foods from the program. However, it does teach you how to incorporate your favorite foods into your meal plan and not have to deprive yourself of your favorites as long as you do it in moderation. I have been able to eat M&M’s most days just because I need a chocolate fix.   

After being in the program for almost two years, I have lost 58 pounds. I am still not at my goal weight, because I have decided that I would like to lose 100 pounds. I never thought it would be possible when I started the program, but now it has become a personal challenge for me. I have just recently started working with a personal trainer at the Johnson Center to help me reach my goal of 100 pounds. Working with my personal trainer is the hardest thing I have ever done, but it is also rewarding because he pushes me to places that I have never taken my body. My trainer is very knowledgeable and encourages me to succeed while keeping me engaged in the exercises. He knows I can do what he is asking me to do and wants me to take my fitness level beyond what I have been able to do in the past.

How does it feel to be me now? I am a much healthier and happier “me” now than the “me” that I have been in a very long time. I have so much more energy now that I didn’t have before starting WLM and loosing my weight. I have been an athlete all my life, but before now I was just “going through the motions” but now I enjoy working out and all the extra energy I get from it. This past year I completed a 5k race downtown Lexington and also completed a sprint triathlon held here at the University. I had completed the triathlon in 2008 and this year I was able to decrease my finishing time by thirty minutes. In 2011 I plan on training for a half Ironman triathlon in August.   

I just want everybody to know that they can be successful in WLM. WLM is not a quick fix or a fad diet. It takes hard work, lots of planning and commitment to the program. I have made my health a priority over the past two years and I have learned it is ok to be selfish when it comes to my health and overall wellness. I work hard at it everyday and it has become more of a lifestyle for me rather than a weight loss program.

The hardest part of the program was making the initial phone call.

Charlene Wesley joined UK’s Weight Loss Matters program in May 2007 and attended two 10-week sessions. We asked Charlene to tell us what the program was like for her. She said the lessons she learned will stay with her the rest of her life:

H&W: Why did you decide to start Weight Loss Matters?
Charlene: I decided to join the Weight Loss Matters program because my weight was getting out of control and the physical constraints were beginning to control my life. When I realized that my weight was limiting me, I decided it was time to do something about it. 

H&W: Was the program difficult?

Charlene: The program is not difficult at all! They provide a food plan, not actual menus, based on your current weight, physical activity, etc., that lets you incorporate all foods. When you surrender your eating habits to that plan instead of trying to force them into the plan, it works like a charm.

H&W: Did you enjoy it?

Charlene: I did enjoy the program, the ease of it all. I lost weight even without an exercise program. I enjoyed keeping track of what was going into my body. It was almost like a science experiment. I actually felt like I was finally in control of some part of my life. I was never hungry and my energy level started to soar almost immediately. I lost weight the very first week and after gaining weight steadily for almost two years, it was a much needed boost to my confidence level. I learned something new each week during the classes and the support from the staff was tremendous; always encouraging.

H&W: Have you been able to keep the weight off?

Charlene: I have been able to keep the weight off. I had a relapse of sorts during the holidays, but as soon as I started writing down my food intake again, the weight started coming off again. I don't write my intake on a daily basis anymore, but I know if I start gaining again, the weight loss is just a pencil stroke away. I think differently about what role food plays in my life and I think that makes the biggest difference for me. I have lost an additional 10 pounds since attending the program and would lose even more if I put myself back into that routine.

H&W: What was your biggest challenge?

Charlene: The hardest part of the program was making the initial phone call and admitting that I had issues with the weight. I thought I would be embarrassed going to a weight loss program, but everyone has the same interest in mind and they are working on their own goals. It’s just as encouraging seeing them attend as it was to attend myself.

For this couple, losing is a win-win situation.

Tim and Julene Jones know what it’s like to be losers. The married couple, both UK employees, were the winners of Weight Loss Matters’ Biggest Loser competition.

 "We decided to enroll because it would be a kick-start to a healthier lifestyle for us," said Tim, who works for the Kentucky Transportation Center.

Julene lost 10.8% of her starting weight; Tim lost 9.3%.

“(Weight Loss Matters) was a lot easier than I thought it would be,” said Julene, who works for the Libraries in Special Projects. "Karen (Bryla McNees) and Kim (Moore) were very encouraging when I would see them at our weekly class, and Tim gave me tons of support during the week, especially when we would exercise together and plan our meals."

Tim agreed that the program was not difficult, but did say that it required "some thought when planning and preparing meals."

"The biggest challenge has been to overcome or deal with emotional and mental issues with regard to weight loss and appearance," said Tim. "For example, it was rather intimidating to walk into the gym the first time.  I just wanted to be invisible. But as time progressed, I realized there were others at the gym for the same reason I was – to lose weight."

For Julene, the biggest challenge was recognizing and overcoming her emotionally driven eating habits.

"When I would have a bad day, I used to eat to feel better," she explained. "Now, I’ve realized that I deserve to be healthy.  That’s become my motto – that I deserve to be healthy."

Since the program Tim has maintained his weight loss and Julene has continued to lose.