Sharing Success: Matthew Brown
During 2011, my weight took on new highs, my health sunk to new lows and my doctors had me go through the preliminary classes and tests for bariatric bypass surgery. I had been repeatedly told by everyone I spoke to that this was probably my last chance for a healthy life. Without a radical turnaround in my lifestyle, my diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, venous insufficiency, edema and morbid obesity had me facing an early grave. My wife and I had accepted the surgery as my only option, and we began planning a nice get away to Tortola before starting the final pre-op stage. The week before Thanksgiving, depression set in as I figured it might be my last holiday season. Then out of the blue, my wife Donna informed me that she had changed our vacation plans and we were going to a place called Hilton Head Health, a weight loss spa. She told me I needed to have a check-up and get clearance from my primary physician to go. When I told my doctor about our plans, he said “Diet and exercise? Go!”
We arrived at H3, greeted by our personal concierge, Keila. Keila told me that not only was I worth it, but she could see it in my eyes, I could do this. She was a constant support throughout our stay, helping us schedule everything we needed, even giving us rides when we couldn’t find one.
We were weighed in – I was 490 pounds and Donna was 268 pounds.
We went thru the H3 schedule and decided we would split up for the lectures to make sure we took advantage of everything we could during our ten-day stay. All the classes were informative, but Lisette Volz and Bob Wright stood out the most, with “Mindful Eating”, “Reading the Labels”, “Having a Plan”, “Writing a Menu”, “How to Deal with the Food Talk and Slips” being just a few of the topics they tackled.
The exercise classes were amazing – I didn’t think it was possible for someone my size to do this stuff, but I was willing to try, and here it is one year later and I’m still trying and succeeding. We set up personal consultations, my wife Donna with Lisette and I with Executive Chef Jen Welper. Both gave us the knowledge and motivation we needed to take home with us to make the H3 Healthy Lifestyle work in our lives.
When I was told how many calories I would eat a day I didn’t believe I could survive, but I was willing to try. How wrong I was! The food was excellent in my professional opinion (I have been a chef for over 25 years, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1988). Even the wait staff took a personal interest in us, making sure we had not only what we needed, but making us feel pampered too. We made sure to take advantage of the pool as often as possible, for free time as well as exercise, and as a reward, we ended each day with an amazing massage from either Mark or Whitney.
Leaving was not easy, but thanks to the staff of H3 we had the tools we needed to succeed.
When we got home we cleaned out the cupboards and refrigerators. The very next morning we shopped from the list we made in Lisette’s class. We’ve had our slips and have learned that’s OK – it’s natural considering our lifestyle before H3. We are both healthier, happier and lighter than we’ve been since we got married in 2002. Neither I nor my doctors can believe the results I’ve had thus far – WITHOUT weight loss medication or gastric operations. I saw my Primary Physician on June 22nd, six months after leaving H3. Incredibly, I was told I was no longer diabetic, although the diagnosis will be left on my chart for two years before being taken off. My weight is now 297 pounds, down 193 pounds since leaving H3.
When I arrived at H3 I struggled to walk from the taxi to the building. Now, my wife and I walk and jog on a regular basis. My edema has reduced significantly. I no longer feel that this may be my last year, but that this is the beginning of many more to come, with opportunities that I did not and could not dream of before. H3 is truly a life changing and lifesaving program that I will never ever forget.
Update: In Januray 2013, Matthew was pleased to announce that he has now lost 193 pounds since his initial visit to Hilton Head Health.
How have Hilton Head Health and the H3@Home program helped you change in the following ways?
As seen in before and after pictures, I’ve gone from the largest person in a crowd to an average size. My wardrobe has shrunk from a special order 7XL to off-the-rack XL! Not a week goes by that someone seeing me exclaims, oh my have you lost weight. You look great!
I want to live a life without boundaries, NOT one where I am always worrying whether there will be enough food to satisfy me, how far I will have to walk, will the bathroom be big enough for me to fit into or needing to bring a special chair to sit in everywhere I go. On my return trip to H3 in December I will only need one seat on the plane, and I won’t even need a seat belt extender!
It used to be hard for me to get up in the morning (even with 8 hours of sleep). Now I get up an hour and a half earlier with no trouble. My work day in the past was 10 hours (9 and half sitting down). Now I sit for about an hour a day and my days are shorter because I am able to accomplish more in less time, with energy to spare.
- Exercise habits
Before our stay at Hilton Head Health, my wife Donna would get me to go for walk with our dogs, and if it was more than a half mile long (tops) I would get very upset. Now I take the dogs for a walk (four times as far as we used to), then I go out for a four mile jog (no joke)! My gym in the basement got very little if any action before H3; now I’m a regular again.
- Eating habits
I am an Executive Chef. I’ve been cooking professionally for 28 years. I’ve been eating professionally for 20. Diets? You name it I tried it. Before leaving H3, I called my parents (who were dog-sitting for us) and told them take everything they wanted from the cabinets, refrigerators and freezers (I have four freezes and two refrigerators), that we were going to get rid of everything and start over fresh, and I have never looked back! All foods are now prepared from scratch: low fat, low sodium and portion controlled.
How would you rate the motivation of your coach?
When I had my initial consultation with Amy, I told her knowing what to do was not the problem: motivation was. I was already losing weight rapidly thru diet alone. I knew I needed to exercise but didn’t really want to (that stuff hurts!). Well it doesn’t hurt as much anymore – actually it feels good. When we would talk, Amy would listen to what I had done in the previous week, remind me of how far I had come and get me to commit to carry on and even try a little harder. In hind sight, it was just what I needed. With Amy’s coaching I was able to complete the “Couch to 5k in Ten Weeks” in about 6 weeks. I ran my first 5K for the Alzheimer’s Association on September 23, 2012 in 58 minutes (today, November 4th, I did it in 44.84 minutes).
What has been your biggest accomplishment/success since returning home?
I’ve been able to successfully lose almost 200 pounds.
My blood sugar is in the normal range.
I have a regular workout routine.
My blood pressure is now 124 / 72.
I am teaching others how to eat properly – “UNWISE, BETTER, BEST”.
What is something that you are doing consistently now that you were not doing before starting the program?
Living instead of merely existing.