Weight Loss Journey: This Retired Navy Couple Proved Age–and Weight–Is Nothing But a Number
Margaret Hodas-Walsh, 65, and Steve Walsh, 66, worked together to lose a combined 110 pounds in nine months after their kids left home.
Margie – Retired US Naval Officer
Steve – Retired US Naval Officer and currently a Program Manager at MITRE
What made you both decide to finally commit to losing the weight for good?
When the scale read 200, pounds, Margie (a retired US Naval Officer) didn’t want to buy any more plus-size clothes. (She was wearing XLs and Size 18.) At about the same time, Steve was at 310 pounds and had a medical scare, so we decided to unload the weight together.
How much weight have each of you lost and how did you do it?
Margie lost 50 pounds and Steve lost 60 pounds. They went back to the Jenny Craig program, because we’d had been successful on it before in 1991 when we were in the Navy and had just moved from our duty station in Adak, Alaska, to Oahu, Hawaii.
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What are your goal weights? Have you reached them? If so, how long did it take you?
Margie’s original goal was to lose 30 pounds. When she achieved that, Steve was still on his weight loss journey, so Margie continued with him and ended up losing a total of 50 pounds, exceeding her original goal. Steve also reached his weight loss goal of losing 60 pounds. It took them nine months to reach their goals. We are proud of our achievement and continue to practice the healthy eating habits learned from our personal consultant while on the Jenny Craig program. This has helped us to maintain our goal weights within five pounds for over a year now.
What other diets/routines have you tried in the past?
Margie had never really dieted before 1991. Steve had tried a few of the high-protein diets over the years before Jenny Craig. The Jenny Craig program has been a great fit for us both for successful weight loss.
What has been the hardest part of your journey?
Margie loved regular soft drinks, desserts (brownies and ice cream), and good bread. Steve was also an ice cream lover and liked his craft beers, wine and fine spirits. Learning to limit our dessert and after-dinner/night snacking was a hard habit to break. We learned portion control from the variety of delicious meals and found we could enjoy our favorite foods by limiting the portions. Jenny Craig also had the best desserts and snacks, which satisfied our sweet tooth and salty cravings. Margie’s favorites were the Chocolate Lava Cake and Triple Chocolate Cheesecake. We both loved the brownies. Steve enjoyed the hearty entrees and his favorite was the Meatloaf & Vegetable Medley.
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Who/what inspires you to keep going?
Raysha, our Jenny Craig consultant, was a constant source of encouragement, support and education during our weight loss, which kept us motivated to achieve our goals. We like the way we look and feel healthier now. We enjoy the compliments from friends, family and our kids. We sleep better and have more energy! We have also reduced the number of medications we were taking for high blood pressure and cholesterol.
What does your typical day look like?
Margie gets up around 9 a.m., weighs herself, eats a light breakfast, walks the dog, walks an additional 45-60 minutes with neighborhood women (three to five times a week), and then attends to other activities and errands.
Steve is up around 7 a.m., eats a light breakfast, goes to work or telecommutes and does strength/weight training at least two times a week. He also walks a lot at work, most of the time over 10,000 steps daily during the week.
We eat dinner together, walk the dog and watch some TV and the news around 9 p.m. We are in bed by 11 p.m. (Steve) and midnight-1 a.m. (Margie). On the weekends, we garden, mow the lawn or do things outside with family and friends (travel, camp, go to football/baseball games and concerts/festivals) and dine out.
Could you give us an example of a typical healthy meal for the two of you?
For dinner, we love making shrimp and grits with sautéed spinach. I use the 100-calorie packaged grits. We have a lot of chicken-based meals too. We practice portion control and include lots of vegetables, which we learned from the Jenny Craig menus. We have salad and/or green veggies at every meal and use olive oil instead of butter. We almost never have bread with meals anymore and don’t snack after 8 or 8:30 p.m. Late-night snacks are killers in derailing your diet. We try to limit alcohol to weekends only. Margie’s drink of choice is now unsweetened iced tea with no-calorie sweeteners instead of the two to three regular sodas a day that she consumed before losing weight.
What are your go-to snacks?
- Slices of turkey/chicken sandwich meat
- Popcorn and pretzels
- Low-fat cheese sticks
- Fresh fruits in season
Do you have cheat meals/cheat snacks? If so, what are they?
We do splurge on the weekend, but don’t overindulge. When we dine out and enjoy our favorites such as pasta dishes, pizza or ribs, many times we take half of our meal home for lunch the next day. We only eat one scoop of ice cream, one to two brownies or half a slice of cheesecake. Gone are the days of eating a bowl of three to four scoops of ice cream or the whole slice of cake!
Do you have any “go-to” tools that keep you on track?
Margie is probably more disciplined and weighs herself the same time every day and records it on a calendar. Usually, after a high-calorie weekend/vacation/holiday, our weight usually bounces back after a day or two. If it doesn’t, we limit portions at dinner with larger salads or vegetables for a few days to get back on track. We also try to continue a modified exercise program on vacations.
Do you find yourselves focusing more on diet or exercise? Or do you try to find a balance?
To lose the weight, the focus is on dieting. To maintain, Margie finds she likes to increase her walking or other activity to keep the pounds off. Steve takes the more balanced approach with his diet (food intake) and strength training.
What is your favorite way to work out? How do you motivate yourselves on the days you don’t want to exercise?
Margie walks three to five days per week for about one hour or more and recently added pushups and sit-ups to her routine. She walks with women in the neighborhood and just can’t say no to them. Peer pressure works wonders! Steve lifts weights two times a week and consumes protein shakes. He continues because he likes the way he looks and feels.
How has your weight loss journey affected your relationship with each other? Would you recommend losing weight together to other couples?
Our relationship has blossomed, and we do more together. Both weight loss attempts were done together and both worked. When we tried to do our own thing, it was always frustrating. He wanted a high-protein diet with no desserts; I wanted to eat smaller portions including the sweets I loved. The differences were just too much to manage separately.
How has your weight loss journey affected the rest of your family?
We did it when the kids were out of the house and we no longer had to make big meals. We were in our late 50s/early 60s when we had three teenage kids living at home, and all three were athletes with big appetites. Our kids love that we look healthier. Our relatives often compliment us and our weight loss has even encouraged them to do their own program as a couple.
What advice do you have for others, especially couples, who are struggling with weight loss?
- Find a program that you agree on and can do together. It makes it simpler for prep and cleanup.
- Doing the Jenny Craig program helped us with portion size and healthy substitutes for some high-calorie items that we liked.
- Having the right support is valuable too. Having Raysha, our Jenny Craig consultant, was a great asset, giving us the encouragement and guidance that we needed to stay on track. She provided a judgment-free zone which helped avoid and diffuse any possible confrontation between spouses. This kept us focused and more supportive of each other.
- Work out together if you can; if not, do your own thing at the same time.
- Don’t give up the foods you love (desserts for Margie, and alcohol and cheese for Steve). Just consume them in smaller portions or limit the quantities! We’ll never give up ice cream, but now we’re satisfied with less.