Transformation: What A Difference A Year Makes

  • Friday / March 22, 2013

Transformation: What A Difference A Year Makes

Transformation: What A Difference A Year MakesWhat a difference a year (and a transformation) makes! It’s quite unbelievable, on March 9, 2012 I set foot into the Visiting Nurses Clinic of Asbury Park and saw nurse practitioner Pat Garduno. Our first meeting, though fruitful, was not the warm, caring, supportive, experience I was use to with my former primary care physician, Dr Rosenfield, back in Seattle. But it was an eye opener! Before I walked in I knew my Type II Diabetes was back and in full swing. A single finger stick glucose test validated that—with a 420 glucose level I was setting off alarms—not only in my head! NP Garduno seemed cold, removed and almost scolding in her behavior. It made me not want to ever come back.

A week later (March 19, 2012) I did return for a follow up. In our previous visit I was given 2 prescriptions for my diabetes as well as one for high cholesterol and was told I’d be on these medications for the rest of my life. I looked at NP Garduno and said, “… you certainly don’t know me very well! I beat this once before and I’ll do it again!” She just rolled her eyes and smirked. Fast forward to the next day and my first visit with nutritionist Janet Blum.

I knew I had to lose weight. At 270 pounds, I wasn’t the heaviest I’d ever been, but damn close. Janet and I talked about portion control, which I had been shown with previous nutritionists I had seen back in Seattle. But Janet also started telling me about the Take Shape For Life (TSFL) program she was involved with and was also a coach for. As she explained it, and me being the skeptic that I naturally am, I said, “Seems too good to be true. I’m not ready to drink the Kool-Aid just yet.” And with all that info, and my brain quite full, I left.

I let it all wash over me as I processed, and researched. I took in a lot of info that Tuesday with Janet. By Friday I decided to try TSFL. I figured the worst that could happen, I’d be out the cost of a month of food. The best—I’d lose the weight I needed to. I called Janet and she helped me place my first order.

My TSFL order of Medifast foods and a copy of “Dr A’s Habits Of Health” showed up on Monday the 26th & I started the program Tuesday March 27, 2012. And on April 19th I got a membership at Colosseum Fitness here in Asbury. It’s the one thing I had been waiting years to get back to—working out again! Between years of battling  Sarcoidosis and a devastating car accident … it was about time … and I couldn’t wait! Let the transformation begin! And so it did!

Sometimes pictures ARE worth a thousand words! Or a few pounds.

Joe - 3.28.2012
Transformation: Joe - 4.18.2012 @ Colosseum Fitness - 246 lb
Transformation: Joe - 5.12.2012 - Trying On New Clothes - 231 lb
Transformation: Joe - 6.17.2012-TN - More New Clothes - 215 lb
From March 2012 to June 2012 • Minus 50 Pounds

There was a lot going on during that time. I had my bike stolen & replaced by insurance. Which was nice because the bike was 10 years old. The replacement cost me zero! With the new bike, and it being well into spring, I was adding longer and longer bike rides to my “motion vocabulary.” I even rode my bike to the gym, then took “the long way home” on my return trip, always riding down the boardwalk. As things progressed even my walks grew longer and farther. Bike rides became 20 miles long, walks 5 miles or more at speed walking paces. My gym routine and cardio grew as my weight dropped. This was all so amazing to me! And felt so good!

I have to say, I really didn’t have a problem with the TSFL program or the food. I was dead simple for me. I loved the structure and the no brainer 5 & 1 meal plan. As long as I ate my five Medifast meals and one “Lean & Green” meal, each 2-3 hours apart, and drank a minimum of 62 oz of water a day … I was good. The food was good too. As I saw the weight come off, I, like Janet, became a TSFL coach too, and started coaching my own clients.

As clothes became too big, I donated them to Goodwill. As I bought new clothes, Target, Old Navy & JC Penny became my places to shop. They all had “liberal return policies” & they had great discount racks. Discount racks and mega-sales were my new best friends. Of course I saved all tags, stickers, and receipts for every new piece of clothing I bought. I even had a filing system to keep track of tags and receipts. Because as soon as I dropped a size, straight back to the stores to return those bigger sized clothes and replace them with clothes that fit. Some might consider this devious, I call it “working within the return construct.” If I didn’t, I would be spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars to go from size XXL & XL to size Small. I went from size 46″ to size 31″ in pants. And that is where I’m happy to have ended up. There is no longer ANY clothing in those larger or in-between sizes, because I don’t plan on ever going back! Ever!

Transformation: Transformation: Joe - 7.21.2012-TN - Reaching my 1st goal weight - 195 lb
Transformation: Joe - 7.29.2012- New Pants & Shirt - 192 lbs
Joe - 8.30.2012- Fit & Tan - 179 lb
Transformation: Joe - 3.1.2013
From July 2012 to March 2013 • Minus 100 Pounds

I hit my final goal weight of 165 pounds on October 8, 2012. While I was transitioning off the Medifast foods back to “store bought” foods, the East Coast was hit by Hurricane Sandy. If that wasn’t stressful enough I needed to find a full time job. There have been other “issues” but I won’t go into them now. Let’s just say, it’s been stressful, and leave it at that.

From the time I started transitioning to about 2 months ago, I gained back 15 pounds, yes some of that was muscle, but some of that was fat. So I did go back on Medifast foods for 4 weeks & got back down to 165 pounds. If I fluctuate and start going over 5 pounds, I know it’s time to reign in my food intake or increase my calorie burn. It’s all part of the process, all part of the new habits of health I’ve come to know and live. It’s all part of the journey I started and will continue on for the rest of my life.

Throughout my life, illness and obesity — for whatever reasons — controlled my life. Sometimes it takes a huge jolt to wake a body up. It took an autoimmune disease, perpetual poor health, my partner cheating on me, splitting up, short selling a condo, moving 3000 miles back to New Jersey, and Type II Diabetes to get me to a place where I knew I needed to step up and take responsibility for myself and my life. I’m so glad I did!

Every day I’m in the gym. every day I look in the mirror, I’m reminded of the person I was, and the person I’ve become. I can do things I haven’t been able to do in many many years, and I’m proud of those achievements. I’m proud of myself! I deserve this new body and this new life! I look forward and relish the thought of being healthy and fit for the rest of my life. It feels good. It feels right.

A final thank you to Janet Blum and to all those friends, family and TSFL members, clients and coaches as we inspired each other on our journeys. Thank you all! And most of all … thank you … ME … for sticking with it & achieving all I have!

All I can say is … “What a difference a year makes!”

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Joe Streno

artist . musician . photographer . apple computer consultant . residing on planet earth with his three cats rudie, rocco, & rose & living to tell tales about it

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