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Happy losers

Written by Theresa Campbell

Local residents find success with weight-loss programs that work for them.

Numerous diets and weight-loss programs are on the market, and while there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to losing weight and keeping it off, several residents in Lake and Sumter counties love the new and healthier people they’ve become since shedding unwanted pounds.

Losing weight together 

Michael and Patti Hensley, of Oxford, have lost nearly 100 pounds together—counting his 65 and her 33—and the pair admits it was a spontaneous decision to start dieting. 

They had visited Legacy Clinic in The Villages for chiropractic treatment for bulging discs from a car accident when they were intrigued by an advertisement for the clinic’s 12-week weight-loss program.

“Doing it together with my wife made us very accountable with each other,” Michael says, “and then when we fixed our meals, we were fixing meals that were good for both of us.” 

Michael feels dieting with his wife made their marriage stronger. 

“One of the things we were doing is we were walking first thing every morning to get our metabolism started, and we got to the point that we really looked forward to that morning walk for a half of an hour,” he says. “It was our time together just out walking.” 

The best thing about losing weight, Michael says, is that he was able to get off his diabetic medication. Before starting the program, his three-month average 

blood-glucose level, or A1C, was 8.2, and at the end of the diet, his A1C was 5.4, which is in the normal range.  

The pair typically ate hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, while lunch and dinner were 4 ounces of meat, 4 ounces of a vegetable, and 4 ounces of fruit. They eliminated all sugar, flour, and pasta. 

“We immediately began seeing results the first week,” Patti says, recalling she lost 7 pounds and her husband lost close to 15. 

“At the beginning of the program, I could have easily gone off. My dad was in the hospital in Orlando, so I packed my meals so that I had everything with me,” she says. “The best thing about this diet was getting back into a healthier lifestyle. It was worth getting our health back into shape, and I would definitely do it again.” 

“They held each other accountable, which was fantastic and they followed the program exactly how it was designed,” says Dr. Chris Kessler, of Legacy Clinic. “A lot of people come to me because their doctor has said, ‘Your bloodwork is terrible, you’ve got a couple of months to turn this around, and if not, we are going to put you on some medication.’” 

Losing weight can make a difference, he adds.

“I had a patient lose over 150 points on his cholesterol, and one lady dropped her fasting blood glucose from over 200 down to the 80s, in just a couple of weeks,” he says.

Photo: Nicole Hamel

40-pound lighter grandma 

Nancy Steinmetz, 63, of Lady Lake, has 12 grandchildren ranging in age from 3 to 22. 

She was tired of weighing more than 200 pounds and tired of feeling pain. 

“I needed not to hurt and to be able to enjoy life,” she says, adding she was inspired by a friend’s success at Total Nutrition and Therapeutics in Lady Lake. 

Nancy met with Lori Esarey, a certified family nurse practitioner and founder of TNT, who started a customized treatment plan for Nancy to improve her health.

“I feel much better than I have in 10 years or more,” Nancy says. “I’m not having joint pain like I did. My stomach was having issues, and I’m not having any of those issues anymore. I’ve learned that I prefer to be healthy (rather) than indulge myself with a lot of sugar and stuff. I’m not eating the breads, the starches, and I’m off dairy, too, because of how my body reacts to it.” 

She was thrilled to lose 40 pounds in six months. 

“All of my bloodwork is much better. My blood pressure is down, and I feel like I can do so much more and have a thousand times more energy,” Nancy says.

“The nice thing about TNT is that they teach you so much,” she continues. “They are a great team. They are there for you, and they are very encouraging. They’re willing to meet with you and help you with recipes.”

“Nancy now has a healthy relationship with food and understands what her body needs,” Lori says. “She continues to immerse herself in learning and has come to realize the value of coaching for accountability.” 

Others are noticing a healthier Nancy.

“People want to know what I am doing, and basically I tell them I am on a health plan and seeing a nutritionist,” says Nancy, who sees her weight loss as a great lifestyle transformation. “I’m looking at this as improving my overall health.”

Photo: Anthony Rao

Transforming a picky eater

Bridgette Graham, 26, of Leesburg, has struggled with weight most of her life. She has tried diets with prepackaged foods but she detested the taste and tried exercising at the gym without any luck. 

At 223 pounds and a bride-to-be in December, she decided to go to the Clermont clinic of Transformations Medical Weight Loss, because it was doctor-monitored based on bloodwork and features a personally tailored weight-loss plan and coaching. 

“I was skeptical,” Bridgette admits of her first visit. However, she was pleased the program featured real foods—a balanced diet of dairy, fruits, vegetables, carbs, and lean meats.

“It’s not a diet, per se, it’s a lifestyle,” she says. “And what I really love about this program, because I am the pickiest eater that you can ever imagine, is that they teach you how to eat and make lifestyle changes that you can live with.” 

Bridgette lost 12 pounds in her first month. “And over the course of six months, I have lost 64 pounds,” she says, adding she was on four long vacations during this time and still kept the weight off. 

“They really care about you here,” Bridgette says of the Transformations staff. “And they always ask about my wedding plans.”

Photo: Anthony Rao

70 pounds gone

“My weight was killing me,” says Anibal Asosto, 47, of Clermont, who is now one happy man since he has shed 70 pounds in the past year and has gotten off all of his medications, including blood-pressure pills. 

“I feel totally different, physically and mentally. I have more confidence and that has been the most important thing,” Anibal says.

He was inspired to go to Transformations Medical Weight Loss in Clermont after seeing a friend’s success with the program. 

“One day I looked in the mirror and thought, ‘I can’t deal with this weight anymore,’ so I just showed up and that is how I started,” he says. “I didn’t know what to expect, but they made me feel very comfortable.” 

He lost 10 pounds in his first week, and another 8 pounds the second week, which was all he needed to keep going. 

“I was never starving,” he says.

Anibal was pleased his bloodwork improved as he lost weight. His triglycerides, once 350, dropped to normal, and his cholesterol has been in the healthy range. 

He enjoys having more energy to enjoy physical activities with his son, and he’s looking forward to running in a 10K race this month. “It’s impressive how losing weight can change your life,” he says. 

About the author

Theresa Campbell

Originally from Anderson, Ind., Theresa worked for The Herald-Bulletin for many years. After experiencing a winter with 53 inches of snow, her late husband asked her to get a job in Florida, and they headed south. Well known in the area, Theresa worked with The Daily Sun and The Daily Commercial prior to joining Akers.
“I finally have my dream job. I’ve wanted to work for a magazine since I was a teenager, and I’m very excited to be here,” Theresa says. “There is such positive energy at Akers that it’s infectious.”
Theresa has three grown daughters—Julia lives in San Francisco, Emily is in Austin, Tex., and Maria is at the University of Central Florida.

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