By Marie McAden
Diet and exercise. It’s the go-to strategy most doctors recommend to lose weight and stay healthy. But does it really work?
Mac Mitchell had his doubts. For most of his life, the retired Beaufort contractor lived on a steady diet of fast food and snacks. As he reached his 60s, he was long past the years when he worked in the field with his construction crew, providing him with the physical activity that had kept him in shape in his 20s and 30s.
“When you become the boss, mostly you’re just pointing,” he quipped.
Mitchell knew he had packed on a few extra pounds, but he didn’t realize just how far he had let himself go until his wife signed them up for the Body Makeover program at Beaufort Memorial Hospital’s LifeFit Wellness Center in 2016.
“I was shocked to learn I was 261 pounds,” said the 6-foot, 1-inch Mitchell.
Worse than that, an analysis of his health at the beginning of the program revealed his blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol were all high. Just one lap around the gym’s quarter-mile track left him breathless.
“I couldn’t even do a pushup,” Mitchell admitted. “I was a train wreck.”
Designed to help participants create life-long healthy eating and exercise habits that will put them on track to lose weight and get fit, the program includes small group exercise sessions with a wellness coach three times a week, nutrition counseling and special events, including and a shopping trip to the grocery store to learn how to choose foods wisely.
“Losing weight isn’t easy, but the payoff for your health can be huge,” Beaufort Memorial LifeFit Wellness coach David Purser said. “In order to help folks start the process, we created our Body Makeover program to provide the tools they need to take off the pounds — and keep them off. “
Mitchell enjoyed the grocery store field trip and coaching sessions that were part of the program, but the workouts were brutal.
“During those first two weeks, I wanted to quit every day I walked into the gym,” he recalled. “I felt awkward being in a room full of strangers trying to work out for the first time in 30 years.”
But the program’s small-group format provided the personal attention, accountability, structure and social support that he needed to help him meet his goals.
“To establish a baseline and measure results, the program also includes a comprehensive body composition assessment and fitness test. All the tests are repeated at the end of the program to show how much you’ve improved,” said Purser, who has been working with the program for the past six years. “Participants also have access to an exclusive Facebook support group.”
For Mitchell, the work paid off. After completing the program, he had lost 24 pounds and seven inches from his waist. His total cholesterol had dropped from 195 to 182; his triglycerides from 235 to 130.
“It was tough, but that’s the point,” he said. “If it’s not difficult, your body is not going to change.”
He was so thrilled with the results, he signed up for a second Body Makeover session. After a few months, he had dropped to 206 pounds and lowered his total cholesterol to 176 and his triglycerides to 91. While he had started out wearing a size 44, he got down to a 36.
Now five years into his new lifestyle, the 70-year-old Mitchell has gained back a few pounds but he’s kept his blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides low. He continues to work out with LifeFit personal trainers five days a week and urges others to sign up for the next season of the program.
“I moan and groan, but without the training, I couldn’t keep up with my grandkids,” said the grandfather of six children ranging in age from 1 to 8. “An 8-year-old can move pretty fast.”
The next session of the 8-week Body Makeover Express program begins Jan. 24. Appropriate for all ages and fitness levels, the cost of the program is $275.00 and registration closes Jan. 14. For more about the program, visit BeaufortMemorial.org/BodyMakeover or call the LifeFit Wellnes