Weight loss success: Nat’s story

Nat Russo, a 2012 participant in ADC’s Weight and Health Risk Management program has seen success! He shared his story, including what led him to the program and how it’s changed his life.

“My name is Nat Russo. I’m 42 years old. I’ve been in the program four months? Four to five months? And I’ve dropped 70 pounds, so far in that time.”

What led you to this weight loss program?

“I was living on fast food. And not even really paying much attention to it. I work in a very stressful environment, stressful occupation, and it was just very easy for me to run across the street at lunchtime and grab a bag of food from whatever fast food restaurant, and come back to the office and keep working. After a while, it adds up. I didn’t realize how quickly it adds up until I wound up having a heart attack.

“I was 38 years old, and I’ve been seeing my cardiologist every 6 months. It was clear to me that my weight was a huge factor. So I asked him about bariatric surgery. He told me he would support it, but I might not be aware of a program called HMR being run here at the hospital. He asked me to check it out, so I went and signed up about 2 weeks later.”

Was the program hard?

“I was eating a lot of garbage before coming here to this program. So I was hungry a lot, and there was a period of time when it feel like my thoughts were kind of foggy, I was lethargic. But after a while my body adjusted – you know, within a handful of days – it was almost like someone threw a switch and everything was back on even keel again.”

What physical activity do you do?

“I started by walking about half a mile a day, and the very first time I tried it, I got halfway around the block and thought, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ And it didn’t matter if I went forward or back – I was in the middle of the walk, so I had to go the same distance. But within a week and a half to two weeks, that little two week walk started feeling like it wasn’t enough, and I felt my endurance increasing. So I just gradually increased and increased.

“I keep trying to challenge myself a little bit without it being too much exertion. I’ve learned that you really don’t have to kill yourself with physical activity to be successful at weight loss. You just have to have physical activity. And getting up off of my couch is not physical activity. It used to be the most physical activity I did in a day. Not anymore.”

What has been the reaction to your weight loss?

“I have a colleague that I only see every three to four weeks, and every time he sees me he taps me on the shoulder and says ‘You look like a different person every time I see you.’ The reaction varies from person to person, but it’s always surprise.”

How has the weight loss changed you?

“There was a period of time before I started losing weight that I actually felt older than I am, and I felt as if I was getting sicker and sicker. And I was starting to have more and more medical problems. And now that’s reversing.  Now I’m having fewer medical problems. I’m taking less medication. My lab numbers weren’t this good when I was a teenager. So I’m just amazed all the way around.”

Why do you think this program has been successful for you?

“Of all of the programs that I’ve tried in the past, this has been the only one that’s worked for me. And I think it has a lot to do with the built in support system – going to classes and learning how to change your lifestyle, how to embrace a new viewpoint, a new relationship with food.”