When I first started “thinking” about losing weight, my intentions were that of most people. To lose weight, I need to kill myself with exercise, crazy diets, and—in the end—accept that losing weight and keeping it off is not obtainable. I tried multiple exercises and diet regimes. Most of them I was successful on, but I never reached my goal weight. And when the program stopped, the weight seemed to go back on double the speed of it leaving.

This left me in a dark state of acknowledging that I would never get my weight and health on track. This caused a lot of insecurities, guards, and walls in my life. At the time, these things were not necessarily foremost in my mind, but they were there lingering around causing a “block” in my head regarding my weight. Naturally, this caused an unhealthy response to my weight and my health because the mentality of, “it is what it is” or “things will just happen the way they happen” crept in and this justified my relationship with food, lack of exercise, and lazy habits in my life. My energy was depleted, my drive to succeed in life was non-existent, and continuing a healthy balance to life was eliminated.

This brought me to my heaviest weight ever. I remember looking in the mirror one day in total disgust with the way I looked. I then remember having thoughts that people judge me by how I look, rather than who I was on the inside. My blood pressure was high, my resting heart rate was high, and my motivation to be active was nonexistent. My practitioner advised me to lose weight and get healthier at my age now, instead of waiting until it was too late. All that didn’t seem to matter to me because I felt like I couldn’t do what I knew I needed to.

But, one day, when I was in the lonely spot, I re-evaluated the same thought, “Are people judging me by how I look rather than who I was on the inside?” There I was, justifying my behavior for the way I looked and allowing that to determine my successes, joy, and ultimately my future. I knew what I needed to do, but there was still a mental block in my head. But I acknowledged that there was still a good person underneath it all.

This started the long decision to start weight loss, but on the inside, I had to find that person and I had to be that person. I had to face that person. Meaning, the foundation of me is still in there. Do not allow the circumstance of your bad decisions lead you to a life that you will regret. Go find that person.

This led me to many hours of research online about weight loss. I had heard of Optifast in the past, but I never researched it thoroughly. I did not know that a group of physicians routinely follow their patients to reach and maintain their goals. My impression was that of many other “shake or VLCD” diets. Because of my insecurities about my weight and health in general, this led me away from this diet. I did not want to “face the music” with a physician regarding my weight. And, of course, the subject of cost was discovered. For some reason, I thought I could lose weight at no cost to me. But I tried that before – and look at the situation I was in. I looked at it as a burden to pay for a program and eat their brand of food.

However, one night I had a discussion with my wife, and she sternly looked at me and said, “This will cost less than a stay in the ICU. And that won’t deal with the issue, that will just prolong it.”

Those words hit home with me and this really started a fire within me. I saw that it not only affected me but the ones I love and care for. So, I decided to take the plunge and commit to the program. And I am glad I did…

This is where my journey and my story turn for the brightest. Because Optifast is managed by a physician, I researched medical facilities in Alaska that partner with the program which led me to the Alaska Premier Health team in Anchorage, AK. I remember making my consultation appointment and having thoughts of canceling because those feelings of judgment and my own insecurities were creeping back in. But I remember the “why’s” to this decision, and remembered the importance of this to my family and loved ones around me. When I took that first, small step into the clinic I was hit with their motto – “You can do this. We can help.” That was the beginning of the rest of my life.

From day one and up to the current date, the staff at Alaska Premier Health has been non-judgmental, friendly, caring, and attentive to my needs, both physically and emotionally. And this is something that I did not understand that I needed – they know there are good, bad, and ugly days, they are here for a lifetime. I thought I was alone and everything was going to fall back on my plate. This is how traditional diets have worked for me, but the staff at Alaska Premier Health takes a non-traditional outlook to weight loss. And that outlook is what provided a transformation of who I am today, to how I feel, to how I view food and health in general.

So much of our lives are based on how we look, we try to change the outside without understanding the process of what happened underneath the surface. This program and clinic really bring what is happening on the inside and bring it to the surface. There were tests and numbers that I did not know what they were, nor what they meant. The staff takes the time to explain the tests and the “why’s” of each one, but more importantly, how those play into my weight, health, and goals to maintain. I thought I would have to live at the gym, sucking down oxygen and pretending to know what I was doing. To my amazement, I was surprised at the amount of exercising that was recommended, but that wasn’t just a recommendation, it was backed by being under constant care and monitoring.

My provider, Allen Chapman, has kept me accountable and goal-oriented in this journey in a way that I believe anyone who wants to lose weight can, whether it be 1 pound or over 100 pounds like me. As mentioned, he built my plan around me, not some diagram that is on a wall in his office. As time goes on and goals are met, the plan gets adjusted including my diet and an exercise program that doesn’t require that I need to live at the gym. He talks with me about maintaining stress, balancing healthy days with “cheat” days, and managing time to allow for one to enjoy the process.

But most importantly, Allen has taught me that the best investment a person can make is in his or herself. I struggled with insecurities in my weight and health prior to meeting Allen, his team, and the Optifast program. But through his professional and compassionate care, he has shown me that with enough support, determination, and hard work anything is possible.

There have been good days and not so good days. But this program has helped me maintain an attitude to work hard for my goals. Seeing the results are motivating, but reflecting on the “old me” and how my outlook and perspective have changed is the driving force to this. It has been said: “You make time for the things you want” – and this is more of a lifestyle now, not some dreaded diet or exercise program that I hurry to get through. And I think that is the foundation of the results that I can see.

At the current date, I am happy to say that I am within a few pounds of losing 100 lbs, my blood pressure maintains within normal limits, my resting heart rate dropped over 30 beats per minute, and now I look for opportunities to be active. I mentioned earlier the cost of the program, but in reality, if I had to pay double or triple the cost, it would be worth every dollar. That investment I made into myself does not have a price tag. There is no more fear or hospitalization, crazy treatments, or even death associated with my weight and overall health.

On top of that, it seems like time spent with my family has increased because we all can now go out and do things. I am able to teach my children the importance of diet and exercise now by showing them, not just telling them to eat their vegetables from the couch.

I am sure there are many that have been or are in the same situation that I was. Believe me when I tell you it will change your life. You will learn more about yourself than you knew was there. You will find that the folks who run the Optifast program are there for you. When you are in the office, the entire world is about you and your well-being. It takes hard work, but hard work is easier when you have a supporting group standing next to you. They stick to their motto – “You can do it, we can help” and I can confidently agree that they hold to this standard. My only regret is how long it took me to take that small step into the office because that one, small step launched me into a healthy future. And who doesn’t want that?

I would like to thank the entire medical team at Alaska Premier Health, their support staff, and everyone else involved with my care. I would like to thank the creators of Optifast for sticking with the research and building a program that fits the needs of its clients, not forcing the clients to fit the needs of the program. I attribute the success of my journey to everyone that has been involved directly and indirectly in my care. I look forward to continuing these relationships and seeing where this journey will lead me next.