Ron, 56; Janie, 52
"It's great that losing weight makes us look better, but the real benefit is better health."
— Ronald James, Youngstown, Ohio
|The numbers are proof of this couples' heart-health commitment.|
|Ron||Starting total cholesterol level||229|
|Total cholesterol level with medication||165|
|Total cholesterol level with medication and lifestyle changes||139|
|Total weight loss||40 pounds|
|Janie||Starting total cholesterol level||254|
|Total cholesterol level with medication||200|
|Total cholesterol level with medication and lifestyle changes||165|
|Total weight loss||35 pounds|
If Ron's heart attack wasn't enough of a wake-up call to get serious about heart health, a picture taken of him and his wife hugging on New Year's Eve 1999 finalized the couple's resolve. "We looked like sumo wrestlers," Janie said. She can laugh about it now because she's 35 pounds lighter and her cholesterol level is almost 100 points lower. She's gone down three dress sizes while Ron has had his jackets and pants altered three times during his 40-pound weight loss.
"It takes some work and some commitment, and it helps a lot to have each other's support. Our diet has changed completely, and the treadmill gets a real workout these days. It takes a little longer to shop for food when you're shopping heart-healthy, and we don't go to the Dairy Queen every time we get the urge," Janie said "But we don't swallow a handful of antacids every night before we go to bed, and we both feel so much better."
Ron said, "It's great that losing weight makes us look better, but the real benefit is better health."
Ron and Janie felt they needed some help getting started so they went to a dietitian. "We had a real education in food and physical activity," Ron said. "I used to think that golf was exercising and that certain brands of cereal were healthy. Now I know that I need to have regular physical activity — I walk on the treadmill five days a week for about 40 minutes and Janie goes for nearly an hour."
Their kids are great supporters, too. When they were talking around Christmas time about the expense of a dietitian, their 27-year-old son told them he didn't need any presents. Just spend the money on the dietitian and get themselves healthy — that would be his Christmas present.
Ron isn't concerned about risks associated with cholesterol-lowering drugs. He has confidence in his doctors. "At first they checked my blood every three months and now every six months. My doctor wants me to stay on the medication as a preventive measure due to a family history of heart disease. I'm on a low dose and I don't have any side effects. I see no reason to be worried about taking the medication."
Both Ron and Janie know they will have to be committed to better health for the rest of their lives, and they know that the rest of their lives will be much richer for having kept that commitment.