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Jim O'Keefe's story


You don’t have to eat salads every day to lose weight.

Hi! I’m Jim O'Keefe and I'm 64 years young. I began my weight-loss journey on October 1, 2012 and 1000 days later I had lost 165 lbs, dropped 18 pant sizes, finished 1st in the men's division of age 35 years or older in a triathlon, and learned a ton about healthy lifestyle changes.

Let me tell you how a broken foot and a phone call changed my life.

In April 2012, I was having my annual physical. When I stepped on the scale my weight registered at 485 pounds. My PCP picked up the telephone and made an appointment in the Weight and Wellness Center for me to see if I qualified for gastric bypass surgery. When my PCP hung the phone up I remember her saying, "Jim, if you want to see your 60th birthday, I hope you qualify for this surgery." I went through the program and qualified for the surgery and had a surgery date of October 20, 2012.

On September 11th while attending a Red Sox game against the Yankees I broke my left foot when standing up for the 7th inning stretch. Because of this, my surgery date was put off until January 2013.

It was the next day that I called my wife's friend, Ray H. who lost 65 pounds in 60 days. I asked him what did he do to lose the weight and if he would help me. I told him I wanted to avoid the surgery and that I've been a yo-yo dieter my entire adult life. Also, more than three times in my lifetime I lost 50 pounds or more. His response was, "Yes, I'll help you but, Jim, it's important to look at the bigger picture, not just a number on a scale."

The bigger picture

I followed the three most common pieces of advice he gave me when it comes to weight loss: journaling my food, move more and water intake. He also recommended me to start drinking a meal replacement protein drink.

For most of my adult life, I never ate breakfast — I just drank a Diet Coke and ate a couple of muffins, usually chocolate chip. I thought the less I ate, the more weight I would lose, but eating more has actually helped me lose weight. Having the meal replacement kept me full longer and I stopped snacking on random (bad) foods throughout the day.

I am not a gym person and I knew that trying to eat healthy ALONG WITH exercising heavily every day would be too much for me at once. Instead, I decided to move more by walking once my foot cast was removed.

I live on a hill and started by walking up the hill made it just past my next door neighbor’s house before wanting to lay down and roll down the hill hoping I didn't pass my driveway. The first time felt like an eternity, but the more I did it, and the easier it became, I now enjoy this (mostly) peaceful hour to myself. The baby steps count!

Non-scale victories

I didn’t give up on myself when times got rough. Four days into my journey, I found myself crying hysterically after getting a text from my weight-loss coach that read: "Jim, You got this. Just keep doing what your doing and you'll be fine." I was up one pound and after talking to my wife that this coach has no clue, I was about to quit. She told me to call him. After talking to him I agreed I'd give it one more week if no results than I would quit. Seven days later I was down 12 lbs.

I stopped eating seamlessly and forced myself to learn how to cook my favorite foods with healthy substitutes.

I learned to celebrate non-scale victories. While it's definitely a motivator to see the scale move down, it's really about the other victories that make the lifestyle change so much more worth it. Things like being able to participate in a triathlon, shopping at places other than the Big & Tall Men's Shop, finally being able to sit comfortably in my seat at Fenway Park; those little things are incredible measures of success.

On days when I feel like there's no change from two months ago, I look at before and after pictures.When you see your body every day it's hard to notice changes. And if you're a bigger person, like me, it's even more difficult to see significant transformations in the mirror. That is why you must depend on those non-scale victories and take a look at how far you've come!
My suggestion to you, if you are just starting out, take progress pictures! It's so refreshing to see how much happier and more confident you are in later pictures.

I still have a good amount of weight I would like to lose. I will continue to aim for my goal weight but I will not cut calories or starve myself for a meal if I'm not losing as much as I want to. It's all about balance.

So if you are looking to make a lifestyle change, or perhaps you've already begun, just remember to do this for yourself because you want to — not because you feel pressured to. If you are truly happy with your mind, body, and soul, OWN IT! If you are putting on a facade to hide your unhappiness, then maybe it's time to take control. Don't let anyone or anything bring you down — just take it slow and enjoy the ride. It's not a race!

I'm fairly new to the Weight and Wellness Center, but so far, I’ve lost another 30 lbs since May of 2017 for a total of 195 pound lost since I started. Oh by the way, I never had the gastric bypass surgery.

The main reason I signed up with Tuft's Weight and Wellness Center is because it's about an overall change beyond the scale, not just losing weight. The program is based on teamwork that focuses on more than solely calories. 
If I can do it...YOU CAN DO IT!