Bob Hays remembers the moment he realized he had to do something about his weight.
“I broke the 300-pound barrier,” he says. “I couldn’t tie my shoes without holding my breath. I missed out on taking my grandson hunting because I didn’t feel up to it. I felt so bad I almost didn’t care.
“I said, ‘I’ve got to do something.’”
The week before Thanksgiving 2015, the 66-year-old Wichitan started the Healthy Solutions program at Ascension Via Christi Weight Management. The program combines shakes, entrees and other HMR foods with fruits and vegetables. Participants attend weekly group meetings and receive health coaching for support.
Now 50 pounds lighter, Bob is living a new life. He’s walking his basset hounds every night after work and feels like a different person.
“I feel so much better,” he says. “This is a big lifestyle change.”
He’d like to lose another 30 pounds to get down to 220.
“Maybe I’ll keep on going and get down to under 200,” Bob says. “I would be as light as I was my sophomore year of high school.”
Bob says a sedentary job — he’s a quality assurance manager at Yingling Aviation — and bad eating habits led to his gradual weight gain.
“Life happens,” he says. “There’s always an excuse not to take care of yourself.”
He was immediately impressed by the Weight Management approach. He especially liked the shakes, HMR turkey chili, chicken parmesan and chicken enchiladas.
“It is so handy to have pre-packaged healthy food,” he says. “You just heat it and eat it.”
And he liked the support of his health educator, Leann Moore, and the weekly support group.
“I thought it would be awkward,” he says of the support group meetings. “But everybody has different ideas. Everybody’s got a reason they’re there. The camaraderie of the group helps all of us get to where we want to go. It keeps me centered.”
Moore says she has enjoyed watching Bob’s personality “brighten up” as he has begun to feel better.
“He grasped the ideas quickly, and he applied them to his life,” Moore says. “It’s been a fun journey for him. He’ll send me photos of food that someone else has brought in, that he’s not eating. Or he’ll send me video of himself walking his dogs.
“A lot of people come to us looking for hope. We want to help them live the fullest life. The number on a scale is just a small piece of what I want for them.”
Now, a cookie jar sits empty on the Hays’ kitchen table, and it’s been empty for five months. Bob and his wife, Denise, now take grocery-store salads to weekly PT Cruiser Club meet-ups, which are held at local restaurants.
And he’s helping his granddaughter learn archery, in addition to planning a pheasant-hunting trip with his grandson this November.
“I’m their grandpa,” he says. “I want to see them into adulthood.”
And with that, he says it’s clear where weight-loss motivation has to begin.
“You’ve got to do it for yourself,” he says. “You don’t do it for anybody else.”