Losing weight for life
Faculty, staff achieve goals on different weight-loss programs.
Losing weight and keeping it off is challenging, especially for yo-yo dieters.
For some Elon faculty and staff, success on the scale was a matter of finding the right weight-loss program and support system.
Kristi Rehrauer, lab manager in the biology department, started attending campus Weight Watcher meetings in 2007. She struggled with her weight her entire life and had done many diets before. She turned to Weight Watchers after having two children.
After dropping 120 pounds in about a year and a half, Rehrauer decided she could help others reach their goals. She became a Weight Watchers leader in the spring of 2010 and has led several campus meetings, which are convenient for many and held at lunchtime.
“I’ve had a lot of members on campus hit goal and become lifetime members,” Rehrauer says.
People who are successful on Weight Watchers tout it because the plan doesn’t restrict what you eat and the weekly meetings provide a lot of support.
“You can eat what you want to eat as long as you account for it,” Rehrauer says. “It’s not a diet. It’s a way of life. If I want to eat pizza, I eat pizza. I just account for it.”
Points are assigned to foods and range from zero on up. Individuals are allotted a certain number of points a day, depending on weight, age and sex. The key to losing weight on the Weight Watchers program is staying within the daily points limit. The weekly meetings give participants an opportunity to trade success stories and talk about their struggles.
Jim Beuerle, an associate professor of mathematics, started attending campus Weight Watcher meetings in September 2011 when he realized that exercise alone wasn’t going to help him get to his goal weight.
He turned 40 in the summer of 2011. For him, it was a wake-up call.
“My father had his first heart attack at 40,” he says. “That was a big push for me to really get healthy. I had a friend suggest Weight Watchers. It was on campus and easily accessible.”
Beyond a strict exercise routine, Beuerle had never done any kind of food-related, weight-loss program. Over the years, his weight crept up. He lost more than 25 pounds on his own and then turned to Weight Watchers, but he wasn’t sure how he’d like the weekly meetings or if he’d fit in.
“I always thought that Weight Watchers was for extremely overweight people, and I was not extremely overweight when I joined,” he says.
While the meetings tend to attract women, Beuerle quickly felt part of the group.
“After my first five minutes of the meeting, I knew this was going to be a good fit,” he says. “I would recommend it for everybody.”
Once Beuerle started tracking his points, he realized his portions were too large and that he was eating too many simple carbohydrates.
“I thought I was always eating healthy and this was a shock,” he says. “I was just eating too much. I started realizing what a portion really was and being accountable for what I ate by the end of the day kept me on track.”
It took Beuerle less than six months to get the last 28 pounds off. He continues to work out three to five times a week. Now, he is a lifetime member of Weight Watchers after staying within two pounds of his goal weight for six consecutive weeks.
While he no longer needs those weekly meetings to lose weight, he still stays in touch with the group and plans to attend future campus meetings.
“It is very motivating to hear people being successful and overcoming their vices for food,” he says.
Most people who stick to a regimented eating plan lose weight. For some people, keeping the weight off is a challenge. Chris Esters, coordinator of foundation and community engagement in university advancement, lost weight on both Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, but she regained what she lost and then some.
“It just wasn’t sustainable,” Esters says. “I went from being overweight to obese.”
Her cholesterol and sugar levels started to go up.
“It was at that point that I could see that my diet was starting to impact my health,” she says.
It was about that time that she overheard some of her co-workers talking about a diet developed by French physician Pierre Dukan. Esters bought his book, “The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep it Off Forever” and decided to give the eating plan a try.
Esters started on June 3 and by Aug. 20, she lost 30 pounds and reached her target weight.
The plan includes four phases: attack, cruise, consolidation and stabilization. Weight loss occurs during the attack and cruise phases, and the consolidation and stabilization phases are designed to help make that weight loss permanent.
During the attack phase, which can last up to 10 days, all foods except for lean proteins, nonfat dairy products and a required amount of oat bran are eliminated from the diet. The foods that are allowed can be eaten in unlimited quantities. During the cruise phase, which is the phase where the majority of the weight loss takes place, vegetables that are fairly low in carbohydrates are added back in.
Once a target weight is reached, the consolidation phase begins and additional items, such as fruits and multigrain foods and a weekly celebration meal are added. The consolidation phase needs to be followed five days for every pound lost.
Finally, in the stabilization phase, which is designed to last a lifetime, a variety of foods are added back in, although the expectation is that a pattern of healthy eating was developed in the other three phases.
Initially, Esters had to adjust to a diet that didn’t include bread, muffins and bagels. At the same time, she found the eating plan simple to follow, which helped her stick to it.
“It’s not boring,” Esters said. “I could mix it up. I didn’t feel restricted at all. It’s the easiest diet I’ve ever done, and it’s quick so you don’t feel like you’re in that place of restriction for fairly long.”
Esters read the book and understood what she needed to do so it would work.
“I knew exactly what I could do in each phase of the diet,” she says. “It was very regimented. I didn’t have to guess at it.”
Esters says she went from a “nicely fitting size 14 to a nicely fitting size 6.” That was enough to motivate her to keep it off. Her success also impacted her family. Her husband, Ed, went from 204 pounds to 170 pounds. Her daughter lost weight on the plan, and her nephew has shed close to 100 pounds.
Esters now has new eating habits that she thinks she can maintain.
“The bonus was that I learned through the whole process how the body reacts to food,” she says. “I learned how to eat better and like it. You learn another way of living and that’s what helps keep the weight off.”
Kim Boggs, a program assistant in annual giving and parent programs in university advancement, was inspired by her co-workers’ successes on the Dukan plan and thought it seemed like a doable lifelong diet.
Boggs lost 70 pounds in 2006 while attending on-campus Weight Watchers meetings but ended up putting half the weight back on last summer while taking prednisone. She started the Dukan Diet Sept. 24. Since she’s started, she’s lost more than 40 pounds and is still losing.
“I love it,” she says. “You get quick results.”
Since she’s attended those weekly support meetings offered by Weight Watchers, she knows that following a plan in a book has its challenges.
“With the Dukan Diet, you have to be more self-disciplined,” Boggs says. “You are not going to a meeting, and you’re not getting weighed each week.”
Foods are limited and that makes it harder to adapt in certain situations, but the results make it worth it.
“It’s strict, and you need to have willpower,” Boggs says. “When they have parties here, you can’t eat the cake and the doughnuts. One reason that people can stick to it is that it comes off so fast, and you have that incentive.”
Boggs says her lifestyle has changed for the better.
“I was a sweet tea drinker and loved to have a cookie after a meal, “ she says. “My tastes now have completely changed.”
Regardless of the eating plan people follow, incorporating exercise helped many take and keep pounds off.
“When I’m talking to new members, I tell them the two things that helped me more than anything was tracking what I eat and exercise,” Rehrauer says.
Want more information about the programs?
Interested in attending on-campus Weight Watchers meetings? There will be an open house from noon to 1 p.m. on Feb. 26 in McMillan 117. Attendees do not have to join. It’s an informational meeting only. Contact Kristi Rehrauer with questions at Ext. 6193 or email@example.com.
The Wellness Center will reimburse Elon employees half the cost of joining 12 weeks of Weight Watchers. A 12-week session costs $144. Anyone who weighs in nine out of 12 weeks will get $72 back. Participants can do this twice. Spouses and friends who aren’t Elon employees can join and attend meetings but won’t receive the reimbursement.
A copy of the book “The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep it Off Forever” is available at the Wellness Center at 412 W. Haggard Ave.