During 2011, my weight took on new highs, my health sunk to new lows and my doctors had me go through preliminary classes and tests for bariatric bypass surgery. I had been repeatedly told by everyone I spoke to that this was probably my last chance for a healthy life. Without a radical turnaround in my lifestyle, my diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, venous insufficiency, edema and morbid obesity had me facing an early grave.

My wife and I had accepted the surgery as my only option, and we began planning a nice get away to the Caribbean before starting the final pre-op stage. The week before Thanksgiving, depression set in as I figured it might be my last holiday season. Then out of the blue, my wife Donna informed me that she had changed our vacation plans and we were going to a place called Hilton Head Health, a weight loss spa. She told me I needed to have a check-up and get clearance from my primary physician to go. When I told my doctor about our plans, he said “Diet and exercise? Go!”

We arrived at H3 and were greeted by our personal concierge, who told me that not only was I worth it, but she could see it in my eyes, I could do this. She was a constant support throughout our stay, helping us schedule everything we needed, even giving us rides when we needed one.

We were weighed in – I was 501 pounds.

We went thru the H3 schedule and decided we would split up for the lectures to make sure we took advantage of everything we could during our ten-day stay. All the classes were informative, but Lisette Volz and Bob Wright stood out the most, with “Mindful Eating”, “Reading the Labels”, “Having a Plan”, “Writing a Menu”, “How to Deal with the Food Talk and Slips” being just a few of the topics they tackled.

The exercise classes were amazing – I didn’t think it was possible for someone my size to do this kind of stuff, but I was willing to try, and here it is one year later and I’m still trying and succeeding. We set up personal consultations, my wife Donna with Lisette and I with the Executive Chef. Both gave us the knowledge and motivation we needed to take home and make the H3 Healthy Lifestyle work in our lives.

When I was told how many calories I would eat a day I didn’t believe I could survive, but I was willing to try. How wrong I was! The food was excellent in my professional opinion (I have been a chef for over 25 years, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1988). Even the wait staff took a personal interest in us, making sure we had not only what we needed, but making us feel pampered too. We made sure to take advantage of the pool as often as possible, for free time as well as exercise, and as a reward, we ended each day with an amazing massage from either Mark or Whitney.

Leaving was not easy, but thanks to the staff of H3 we had the tools we needed to succeed.

When we got home we cleaned out the cupboards and refrigerators. The very next morning we shopped from the list we made in Lisette’s class. We’ve had our slips and have learned that’s OK – it’s natural considering our lifestyle before H3. We are both healthier, happier and lighter than we’ve been since we got married in 2002. Neither I nor my doctors can believe the results I’ve had thus far – WITHOUT weight loss medication or gastric operations. I saw my Primary Physician on June 22nd, six months after leaving H3. Incredibly, I was told I was no longer diabetic, although the diagnosis will be left on my chart for two years before being taken off. My weight is now 297 pounds, down 204 pounds (today I am at 270 pounds, down 231 pounds).

When I arrived at H3 I struggled to walk from the taxi to the building. Now, my wife and I jog and run on a regular basis. My edema has reduced significantly. I no longer feel that this may be my last year, but that this is the beginning of many more to come, with opportunities that I did not and could not dream of before. H3 is truly a life-changing and lifesaving program that I will never, ever forget.


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