Lewis used to be an athlete and a coach, maintaining his weight of 165-175 during the off-season, 190 when he was working out. In 2002, he was involved in an accident and ruptured four discs. That started a domino effect. He continued to eat the same amount that he had prior to his injury and his weight crept up to 220. Lewis said that because of his athletic background, he never liked junk food or sweets. “I knew a lot about nutrition but I was just overeating healthy foods.”
By 2004, he weighed 270. That year, he had a heart attack. “I had 100% blockage and had a stent placed at the age of 49.” With the humor of a man who’s been through a lot, Lewis said, “I’ve always been a Raiders fan; I should have known the 49(er)s would not be good.” Unfortunately, his back problems worsened and he became bedridden for a time. In 2006, Lewis was diagnosed with central sleep apnea. In 2007, at his peak weight of 276, he developed atrial fibrillation and underwent a cardio ablation to destroy the tissue in his heart that was causing the arrhythmia.
Diagnosed with severe heart disease, suffering from chronic pain, and at a hundred pounds over his athletic weight, Lewis’s situation seemed hopeless. Then in 2008, Lewis’s wife bought him a ten week old Bichon Frise puppy, aptly named Domino.
Domino and Lewis video 1 on 05/14/08:
This Domino had the opposite effect. “He gave me a purpose for moving. It had an almost spiritual affect on me.” Lewis began by taking his dog for short walks around the block and lost 14 pounds over the next year.
Domino and Lewis video 2 on 04/26/09:
When his doctor, Steven Una with Affinity Medical Group, recommended the Am I Hungry?® Workshop, Lewis was ready. “It turned a light on for me.” In just over a year, Lewis lost over 100 pounds and has since kept his weight stable at 163 pounds. He has also lowered his cholesterol and his blood pressure.
Domino and Lewis video 3 on 12/18/10:
Lewis says that after years of eating mindlessly, it took him about six months of practice to really understand how to identify hunger and fullness. “I used to eat unconsciously, grabbing a handful of this and a handful of that. I could eat a whole tub of popcorn, barely tasting it. Now I eat a few kernels and actually notice that it tastes great. That may be enough.”
Lewis recently went to a reunion where there were all kinds of snacks laid out. In the past, this would have been a huge trigger for overeating. “I wasn’t really hungry but I was curious. I had one pecan, one cashew, and three other types of nuts, just to be able to taste them.
“Am I Hungry?® is a getting healthy program. The byproduct is losing weight,” Lewis shares some of the other lessons he’s learned: He doesn’t need to eat perfectly – “There is no such thing as perfect.” At restaurants, he can order whatever he wants but eats only half because he notices when he’s full. He walks his dog four times a day for a total of 3-4 miles a day, though less when his back is flared up. “My buddy Domino really misses it.
Taking the Am I Hungry?® workshop was an important step for Lewis. “My facilitator, Sheila O’Meara made the workshops uplifting and exciting. She answered all my questions and helped me feel good about myself.” Lewis also discovered that he felt comfortable sharing in group setting. He adds, “And I read Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat faithfully.” Sheila invited Lewis back to be a guest speaker for two other workshops. “I’m happy if I can help even one other person.”
The changes have had a domino effect on his family too. Lewis said, “Food is still around but my son noticed that I was eating mindfully and picked up on it.” His wife has lost 25 pounds; his 26 year old son has lost 35. His daughter recently had a baby and is already almost back to her pre-pregnancy weight. Lewis recently walked a 5K with Domino and his kids.
Revealing the positive attitude that has helped him overcome so many obstacles, Lewis said, “I am blessed. I really appreciate what Am I Hungry?® has done for me and my family. My wife is a godsend, my rock. And Domino has gone every step of the way with me.” Though Lewis has been disabled for three years now, he said, “I can be as healthy as possible within my limits.” He is in ongoing treatment for his back pain and still has angina but doesn’t let that discourage him. “I’m as healthy and as strong as I can be. I’m not going to let anything stop me now.”