Weight loss masters

One of my go-to books both during and after my 90-pound weight loss in 2010 was Eating Thin for Life by dietitian Anne M. Fletcher. It’s a collection of strategies used by so-called “masters of weight loss” – Fletcher’s term for people who have maintained a loss of at least 20 pounds for a minimum of three years.  That, Fletcher wrote, seems to be the  dividing line between those who “stick” with their new lifestyles and those who retrench to their old ways.

Since starting this blog in 2011, I’ve encountered several Weight Loss Masters myself – and I’ve learned something from every one of them:

•It’s never surprising to hear that someone lost weight after bariatric surgery, but it was inspiring to hear how Linda Tobey Duesler maintained her 110-pound loss: By dancing around with a hula hoop. When I interviewed her in 2011, Duesler was five years out from her surgery and having way too much fun for a woman in her early 60s.

•One of the early bloggers I followed was Shannon Canady, whose weight-loss story was very similar to my own but happened about four years earlier. When I interviewed her in 2012, I was especially curious how she’d moved on after Weight Watchers.

•My sister Traci lost weight so long ago that I almost forgot she was ever heavy. (And in truth, she was never that heavy.) But she is definitely a Weight Loss Master according to Fletcher’s definition – and she’s probably the person whose habits I’ve studied the most, because we’ve been running together ever since 2010. Usually at some point during nearly every run, we compare notes on how our eating is going. Here’s an interview I did with her in 2011.


Bonny Damocles after running the stairs in his Midland, Mich., home.

•I spent several months interviewing Bonny Damocles without ever really thinking of him as a Weight Loss Master. That’s probably because some of his initial weight loss came during a time when he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes – his body was dumping fluids to try to get rid of excess blood sugar. But Bonny went on to lose a total of 30 pounds, and he’s maintained that loss ever since 1991. The creative mental strategies that have helped him maintain a healthy weight and control his diabetes WITHOUT DRUGS for more than 26 years was the subject of this 2016 article I wrote for Diabetes Health magazine, as well as the book we later collaborated on, Type 2 Diabetes Pioneer, which is available here on Amazon.

Though I don’t have diabetes myself, I’ve since adopted many of Bonny’s strategies for my own weight-management purposes. For a look at how he operates, here’s a sample chapter from the book, “Scheduling Meals to Fight Fat.”

•I met Annie Giddens when someone suggested I interview her for one of my “Adventures In Food and Fitness” columns in The (Fort Wayne) News-Sentinel. At that point, Annie had lost 218 pounds over seven years. She’s since upped that total to 225 pounds lost, having finally made it to her original goal weight she wrote down back in January 2010. Though technically she only finished her weight loss in 2017, I would argue that Annie is a Weight Loss Master because she has been at this so long that maintaining a healthy, fit lifestyle has become a major part of her life.  She’s also changed up her approach so many times that there’s no “program” for her to all off of that she can’t fix with one of the many weight-loss tools in her toolbox.

•As a high school student in the 1970s, Debbie Powers desperately wanted to make the pom-pom squad. She lost 100 pounds and not only made the team,  but ultimately became its captain after her aunt took her to Weight Watchers. Debbie became a Weight Watchers leader in 1983 and is now the longest-serving leader in Fort Wayne, having helped all kinds of people lose thousands of pounds over the years. Here’s an article I wrote about her in September 2017 in The (Fort Wayne) News-Sentinel.