Inspiring Change: What One Man Gained When He Lost
Two years ago, Ron Holley, a real estate developer from Houston, Texas couldn’t imagine being where he is today. At the time, Ron resembled many 50-something overweight American men, the father of three was carrying 260 pounds on his 6’1″ frame, with a size 44 waist. To make things worse, Ron was told at a check-up at the doctor’s office that his sugar levels were at the point that he was on the verge of needing diabetes medication. Ron, who already had a fatty liver and was taking high-dose pills for high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure, had the wake up call he needed.
Friends, who’ve been through the program before, encouraged Ron to try Pritikin. Knowing he needed a change, Ron immersed himself in the lifestyle-change program at Miami’s Pritikin Longevity Center. There he learned and adopted the ultra-healthy Pritikin diet and exercise regimen, now two years later, Ron is 70 pounds lighter and the proud owner of a “comfortable, loose-fitting size 34.”
Ron remembers, “Two years ago, I had a huge stomach, and I remember thinking that there’s no way I’ll ever get rid of it. It’s solid. Well, it’s gone now. It’s disappeared. It’s hard for me to believe that I did it. But just one day at a time of Pritikin living, and it happened.”
Equally pleased is Ron’s wife, Natasha, a cardiologist. And sure, she had done her best over the years to convince her husband to clean up his act. “Believe me, I was preached to,” laughs Ron. “Natasha makes fabulous heart-healthy meals. But I travel a lot – I’m one of those million-miler guys. Unfortunately, away from home, I ate all kinds of junk. I couldn’t even stop to get gasoline without wandering into the mini-mart to pick up coke and chips.” And regularly, he pulled into drive-thrus for a burger and milk shake between meals. “I was a fast food junkie.”
Just days into his two-week stay at Pritikin, “the light switch went on. I went to just about every lecture,” recalls Ron, “and what the educators said about food, lifestyle, and health, well, it all made sense. It fit together. And they were so passionate.” That passion wore off in a very big way on Ron. Today, two years later, he’s completely off his cholesterol and triglyceride drugs, and down to the minimum dosage for blood pressure.
Before Pritikin, he got around, but not very well. Today, on the treadmill, “I can knock out six miles in an hour.” And just six months after leaving Pritikin, at a lean muscular 190 pounds, Ron ran his first half-marathon, and in 2 hours, 26 minutes!
One thing Ron cannot stop talking about is how his food preferences have changed. “I don’t eat fast food anymore because I don’t miss it. I’ve regained my taste buds. I actually enjoy food like salmon without a lot of salty sauce on top, and fresh berries instead of sweets for dessert. I love pure, simple food tasting strongly by itself.”
One major change from his pre-Pritikin days is that he no longer drinks sodas, not even diet ones. And he used to be a big milk drinker. “Now, if I drink any milk at all, it’s soy milk.” Ron still loves wine, “but I’ve noticed that with the weight loss, all I need is a small amount – much less than my 260-pound days.”
This tenacious and inspiring Texan, now into his third year of Pritikin living, shows no sign of stopping. “I enjoy my exercise.” When he isn’t running, he’s wheeling at top speed in spinning classes or working up a sweat in cardio strength classes. What keeps him going? How does he steer clear of old favorites like 16-ounce steaks? For Ron, it all boils down to this: Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.
And he’s feeling it each and every day – and night. Before Pritikin, Ron suffered from sleep apnea. Every night, there was a CPAP machine tethered to his face. “By the way,” he interjects, “those machines do not add to the bedroom life.” Today, he’s machine free. “I simply don’t need it anymore, and I’ve stopped snoring.”
What he loves each day, too, is the pure pleasure of physical movement. Running just for the fun of it. For how it makes him feel. For years, because of all the extra weight, movement hurt. Even the activities he loved, like hunting, were a struggle. All the hiking and lugging of equipment – the jackets, ammunition, and binoculars – wore him out. Not anymore. With his new, trimmed-down body, “it’s amazing what I can do.” On a recent trip in Wyoming, “I was going miles and miles with no trouble at all. It was a whole new experience.”
Nowadays, he’s also returned to sports he enjoyed in his teens and twenties, like tennis and golf, which he had thought, because of his excess weight, he’d never be able to play again. What tickles Ron most of all, however, is Natasha’s reaction to his new body. As his Pritikin transformation was taking place, as he was getting thinner, leaner, more graceful, and yes, more appealing, she’d joke, “I feel like I’m cheating on my husband.”
“I still get compliments,” he smiles. Just the other day in their home, “as I was walking by, not wearing much, she looked up and said, ‘Gee, you’re sexy!’
“Now, why would I even think of giving all this up for burgers and fries?! No way! I’m 56, but I’m feeling 36.”
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