Losing to gain

NEW ULM – Losing weight is an endeavor that requires discipline, direction and patience.

For New Ulm’s John and Miriam Hoffmann, it has been a year-and-a-half endeavor that has proven to be worthwhile.

Miriam has lost 70 pounds and John has lost 25 since beginning a weight-loss program under the The Heart of New Ulm Project in September 2012. The change in their lifestyle was spurred on when John came home from the doctor with sobering news.

“My husband is the one that jumpstarted us both because he’s a Type-1 diabetic and the doctor told him if he didn’t take off some weight that he would have to start insulin shots,” Miriam said. “We were both trying to start to get this going, but we just needed that push and that was the push we needed.”

The Heart of New Ulm Project, led by Allina Health, is a program that is designed to reduce the amount of heart attacks in the New Ulm area within a 10-year period, according to its website (heartbeatsback.org). The program helps participants take steps toward leading healthier lives – in order to reduce the risk of heart problems and other health-related issues – by mapping out steps to doing so on a case-by-case basis.

For John and Miriam, this meant monitoring their diets – known in nutrition simply as the basic sum of food consumed by a person or organism – and exercising on a regular basis while checking in with HoNU’s counseling staff.

“It was a challenge for me more so than Miriam,” John said of altering his diet. “I’m a meat-and-potatoes guy and for me to have to eat a salad and watch what I eat, that was hard for me.”

Eating healthier, coupled with the exercise he got from working on the farm, has helped John lose 25-30 pounds since weighing in at 250 when his doctor told him that he needed to change his habits almost two years ago.

The counseling staff provided tips to making healthier eating choices as part of the program. John and Miriam have been applying these tips to alter their diets since beginning the program, which is one reason they have managed to lose weight.

“They have so many good tips out there and I think of them every day, I follow them every day – they’re really good,” Miriam said. “I consider it a huge gift to my heart.”

The exercise portion of Miriam’s weight-loss journey did not require complicated, exhausting workouts. Rather, Miriam’s everyday exercise routine of simply walking on the treadmill at home has played a big part in her weight loss.

“At that time, I was walking about 3 to 4 miles a day,” Miriam said of when she first started. “Now I’m walking 2 miles a day, but every day absolutely, I still do.”

Ever since losing 70 pounds, Miriam said she no longer has persisting knee problems and has also been granted a reduction in medication for her blood pressure. However, those are not the only positives that have resulted from her weight loss.

“What I noticed the most? She’s happier,” John said. “She is always smiling, she feels good, she’s got more energy. That’s the big thing, too: she’s got the energy.

“Before, we just were kind of like dogs – you didn’t want to do anything – and I noticed that with myself in lifting feedcorn bags and stuff. In the spring, I’d have such a hard time lifting 50-pound bags because I just couldn’t hardly do it anymore, I was so out of shape. Now I just whip them around and I think nothing of it.”

A little more than halfway to his goal of losing 50 pounds, John said continuing to watch what he eats is crucial to meeting that mark.

“We still eat healthy, we watch what we eat,” John said. “[Monday night we had] a couple wieners and a salad, that’s our supper. But no buns – we cut the bread out.

“If we have bread, we don’t have potatoes. If I have french fries one meal, that’s all I can have. We’ve really got to watch what we eat, but it isn’t that hard.”

When asked if she had any advice for anyone interested in taking part in a weight-loss program, Miriam said a change in attitude and approach can make all the difference in the world.

“You need to find in yourself what’s going to make you tick with a diet program,” Miriam said. “Once you get started and those first few pounds come off, that’s all you need.

“Don’t look at the big picture because it will overwhelm you and discourage you before you even get started. Take it day by day and week by week. Treat is as a personal challenge and think to yourself, ‘I want to see what I can do with this.'”

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