Steve Knox’s “Uh-Oh” moment came when he saw himself in a photo. “It was a wake-up call for me,” said Mercy Medical Center’s Director of Finance. “I thought, well, I might want to do something about this.” Besides carrying extra weight, he wasn’t feeling great and his numbers at his last physical were less than ideal.
For the lifelong athlete who played Class A baseball, basketball at lunch every day, regular rounds of golf, and even trained for and completed a half-marathon, this was new territory.
The slide from peak shape was gradual, but started with two torn meniscuses in just over a year—both requiring surgeries and recovery times. “Neither knees returned to normal enough for me to play basketball or run, and that’s when I started to not exercise daily and didn’t change my eating habits,” the 50-year-old said. “It was a recipe for a slow disaster.”
With an athlete’s resolve, Steve challenged himself to get back into shape, committing to healthier food choices and a personalized exercise program that takes into account his physical limitations.
Down almost 30 pounds, Steve said that his success is the result of finding a plan that he can stick with as he works toward his wellness goals.
Getting out of the danger zone
One of the first things Steve did when he started his weight loss journey was purchase a biometric scale for around $50. The scale’s 13 indicator categories (BMI, muscle mass, body fat, etc.) reads numbers in red (unhealthy), yellow (warning) and green (good). The first time Steve stepped on the scale, all 13 readings were in the red zone. “I thought no way that can be right,” he said. “But, oh, it was right.”
After learning what each measurement meant, he set out to raise those numbers out of the danger zone. Eventually, through diet and exercise, he was able to get all of the numbers in the green and yellow.
Diet is key to weight loss
“I always thought that exercise was the most important thing for weight loss but I found out that for me, diet was the key,” Steve said.
He consulted with Mercy’s Director of Health & Wellness Stephanie Wheeler about his weight loss goals, and she referred him to Mercy’s weight management department and outpatient dietitians. He learned about making healthy choices and was given a target for daily protein and carbohydrate intake.
To help him keep track, he downloaded an application “Lose It” on his cell phone and tracked everything he ate. “I tracked for 178 straight days, whether it was a good or bad day,” he said. “It was probably the most important thing I did—and it still is—as it helped me understand what I was eating.”
When he is fighting through a weight loss plateau, Steve also practices intermittent fasting—8 hours of eating healthy foods followed by 16 hours of fasting. To keep him motivated, he also participated in Mercy’s Employee Weight Loss Challenge last year. “It helped keep me on task, and I do like the competition.”
Tabata training: Knee-friendly way to get heart rate up, work muscles
When Steve decided that he wanted to incorporate more exercise into his routine besides several rounds of golf a week, he once again sought help from Stephanie Wheeler.
Stephanie created a personalized Tabata training routine for Steve that he does at Mercy’s Employee Fitness Center three times a week. In Tabata, an exercise is performed at a high intensity for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest. Steve completes eight Tabata’s—which includes weightlifting mixed with floor exercises—in 20 minutes.
“It took about 5 times in the gym before I nailed down how to do Tabata exercises and timing, so my advice to anyone trying it is don’t get frustrated,” Steve said, adding that he downloaded an application that keeps track of the timing for him.
Support at home and work
Steve and his wife are newlyweds, married this spring. He said that the support of Susan, who works in Quality/Project Management at Mercy, has been an important part of his success.
“Without Susan jumping on board with me, it would have made this journey really hard,” he said. “We don’t always follow it, but we do plan our meals for the week together because otherwise we end up scrambling and that usually doesn’t go well.”
Other support comes from Mercy co-workers who are happy to share tips they’ve learned on their own path to wellness. Steve said that Director of CVOR Scott Reich shared his recipe for queso soup that is now a favorite at the Knox house. “It’s awesome and high in protein and low in carbs,” Steve said.
Finding a balance
Like many people on a wellness journey, Steve had to adjust to moderation when socializing, eating at restaurants and relaxing on vacation.
“I used to take it for granted that I could eat what I wanted, but now, I have to think through how it’s going to impact my goals,” he said. “There are times I say it’s worth it, other times, it’s not.”
He admits that while on his honeymoon, he did splurge—relaxing instead of exercising, and eating and drinking without tracking. He did put on some pounds but was able to eliminate the vacation weight gain when he returned and got back on his diet and exercise plan.
There’s no secret recipe
“It may take you a month or two to really sort through what works and what doesn’t,” Steve said. “There is no secret recipe. You will have good weeks and bad weeks; each person is different. You will plateau at times and need to shake things up, but if you stay with it, you will drive past it and be successful.”