As children, we probably all heard the "clean your plate" speech, but it was a lifelong habit that wasn't doing Ron Liskey any favors.
"A lot of it is about breaking the bad habits. You know, they always tell you to clean your plate -- and I did -- and that's not a good thing," says Liskey, a project manager in Technical Publications at John Deere Construction and Forestry in Dubuque, Iowa.
Two years ago at age 51, Liskey was living with the pain of two bad knees, aggravated by his 329-pound frame. Deciding it was time to take action, he joined a group weight-loss program in October 2004. His resulting weight loss of 110 pounds put him in better shape for a recent double knee replacement.
His doctor suggested the plan, and also helped him set his goal weight of 200 pounds. While that's still above the ideal BMI for his height, it was a reasonable goal given his history. "I've never been thin. I was over 200 pounds in junior high," notes Ron. While he still has about 10 or 15 pounds to lose, he's hoping to just maintain until he can get back on his feet again. "I'm not done, but I know I'm going to get there." he adds.
He now attends meetings on Saturday, but hopes an at-work option will become available again in the future. "Everybody has a different story," says Ron, "but for me, it helps having feedback in a group of people you know. Sometimes the scale doesn't tell you right away, and the feedback keeps you going." And it's equally important to offer support, he adds. "Sometimes you forget how much you've done until you talk about it."
Much of his core plan simply requires paying more attention to what he eats and finding healthier choices. "You know, vegetables are not our enemy," he says, wryly. "I had other problems, but incorporating vegetables was a big change. Now they're a bigger part of my diet, and they take the place of snacks that I have really been able to stay away from."
Learning portion control was another lifestyle change. "My daughter said it, 'Dadís a garbage disposal - he eats everything.' If it was there, I'd eat it," he notes. He now knows how to stop when he's full. "It's paying attention to your body. You know, I had symptoms before - shortness of breath and lack of energy - but I hadn't really paid attention." With the advice and support of his physician, he's also been able to reduce some medications he takes for high blood pressure.
And there have been other benefits. "Once I focused on this, I become more focused in general. The program emphasizes that this has to be a lifestyle change. We look at dealing with foods and moods and people, and you learn how to use those tools at work and in other things that are important to you."