“Going to H3 truly did change our lifestyle.”

It has been a year since my husband, Phil, and I went to Hilton Head Health (H3) to change our lifestyle (December 2011) – and we’ve been singing H3’s praises ever since! To date, Phil’s lost 50 pounds and I’ve lost 45 — and we are continuing to lose! We are moving through clothing sizes at a rapid rate and it’s great to be going in the right direction!! My cholesterol is down 40 points and I have reduced my Lipitor from 20mg to 10mg daily and may be off it entirely after my annual physical.

Upon arriving to H3, I was afraid we would spend a week there and not learn anything we didn’t know (but just weren’t doing). That couldn’t have been further from the truth. We learned weight loss tools that have helped us in all aspects of life – from dining out to exercise; we’ve been able to incorporate H3’s weight loss rules in our daily routine to achieve lasting success. For example, who knew that weight loss is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise? Who knew that restaurants “steam” their vegetables in BUTTER? Or if you know your metabolic calorie range, you can know exactly how many calories you can consume to still lose weight?
As far as exercise is concerned, we were already in the gym an hour a day but adding an extra half hour and actually sweating has worked wonders!

Since returning home, we’ve enjoyed celebrations, holidays and trips while maintaining our weight loss. For example, last Valentine’s Day, Phil and I had a wonderful dinner that fit within our 350 calorie count; it included grilled shrimp, roasted vegetables, homemade chocolate dipped strawberries (16 cal each) and homemade lemon meringue cookies (23 cal each), PLUS champagne (100 cal). A true feast and we counted everything without feeling like we cheated on our diet or feeling deprived. Many of the recipes I found on Hilton Head Health’s blog, H3Daily.com, and the rest I was able to figure out from the cooking tips learned during our visit.
One of our goals was to learn how to dine out within our new healthy lifestyle. We’ve done that and it’s become almost a game to outwit the restaurant’s’ plans to make us gain weight. We’ve found that folks in the restaurants are quite helpful if we ask for slight changes that help us make healthier decisions. We find that more and more restaurants now have calorie counts on their menus (Panera is a favorite) or can give you their nutrition charts. We continue to be shocked by the high calorie counts for things we would expect to be fairly low and the ASTRONOMICAL calorie counts for things we knew were high. I can make a margarita for about 150 calories at home – whereas a common restaurant margarita is well over 700! So we’re still eating out, enjoying the healthier meals that we order and are still losing weight!

Checking the calorie counts before we go out for a meal has also helped us. With that said, there have been some slip-ups. One evening we went out with friends without knowing where we were having dinner. The restaurant they picked was having a special on a 12-ounce prime rib (which I love), so I planned my strategy as I sat there (without being able to check the calorie count for prime rib beforehand). I hadn’t had meat earlier in the day so I thought I could have 6 ounces, take the other 6 ounces of meat and the baked potato (no toppings) home for another meal. I ate the Caesar salad without the croutons and with the dressing on the side (using Bob Wright’s “Dip and Spear” method). Didn’t eat the rolls and had no wine. I was so proud!! Proud, that is, until we got home and I checked and found that prime rib is 100 calories an ounce!! I had 600 calories just in the meat!! Haven’t eaten it since!!

Portion control is another huge effort. We have always been careful about it at home so it hasn’t been much of a problem – except that we now measure EVERYTHING). But when we go out to eat, instead of just sharing a portion, we most often divide our entrée in half, share that between the two of us, and take the other half home – for one, sometimes two (or more) meals. Even McDonald’s comes in under the portion control wire (even if not the healthiest choice) – a kid’s happy meal of hamburger or chicken nuggets and fries is the right portion/calorie size for an adult. In fact, that is the size McDonald’s adult burger and fries used to be when they began some 60 years ago.

Another key to our success has been eating mindfully. There is a big difference between eating something because you love it and just eating because it is meal time or out of habit. We’ve even broken the movie popcorn habit (though going “cold turkey” during our first couple trips to the movies was HARD). Now, we generally don’t have popcorn at the movies and don’t miss it. If we are going to have it, we portion it out and take it with us. Whenever we think about indulging in something, we plan for it and THINK about it – it’s become a habit.

I won’t pretend that adapting a healthier lifestyle doesn’t take time and effort but being able to look at ourselves in the mirror and in photographs without wincing is its own reward!!

In short, our stay with Hilton Head Health and the continued support Phil and I receive through the H3 e-newsletters and blog have made a huge difference in our lives and we cannot thank the staff enough. Going to H3 truly did change our lifestyle – and only for the better!!