I n the past, when Bud Gregorcic dropped some money on the ground, he left it. At well over 400 pounds, picking it up was too strenuous. He had heart problems, sleep apnea and too much sugar in his blood.
Then he got throat cancer. He lost plenty of weight while receiving chemotherapy and radiation, and taking all nutrition through a tube into his stomach, but when he started eating normally again he quickly reached 422 pounds, close to his all-time high of 465.
Now 63, he had tried many diets unsuccessfully. He even failed to win the $10,000 his boss promised him if he lost 100 pounds in a year. This time, with the help of a weight-loss coach and a diet plan that stresses portion control, Gregorcic, the customer relations manager at Lokey Automotive, has lost 180 pounds.
He is so enthusiastic about the Take Shape For Life plan, he has become one of the program's Health Advisors, and the company pays him a fee for each dieter he counsels.
"My son said, 'Dad, if you do this, you will rediscover a world you've forgotten,' " Gregorcic said. "And that has been 100 percent true."
How did you gain so much weight?
It creeps up on you. I'll be 64 in July. I started gaining weight at 32. You don't realize how heavy you're getting until you realize you've handicapped yourself.
How did you try to lose weight in the past?
I did Herbalife, Optifast, Jenny Craig, the Cambridge Diet, Physicians Weight Loss. I did Weight Watchers and Atkins twice, and the cabbage soup diet.
How did you succeed this time?
It's called Take Shape For Life. It's about portion control, but the number one reason it works is because of the health coaching. It's sort of like getting a sponsor when you join Alcoholics Anonymous. Now I'm a coach for about 47 people ranging in age from 27 to 77, and they're all losing weight. I call them every day for about 2 weeks until I know they have a full understanding of the program. And they can call me from 6:30 in the morning to midnight. They call me from restaurants when they're ordering, and from their kitchen when they're getting ready to cook something.
Does your new program require a lot of will power?
The word that always comes to mind when I describe this program is "effortless.'' I eat every three hours. I don't have time to get hungry. You eat five of their meals every day plus one of your own.
What does it feel like to be at this new weight?
Before, I lived from chair to chair. If you called me over, you'd better have a chair ready for me. Now, at work they call me Ricochet Rabbit because I'm up and down the stairs 10 or 15 times a day. I just took a blood test. My cholesterol is 174, down from 290, and my blood sugar is down to 94. I had sleep apnea and had to use a CPAP machine when I slept, but my doctor called and told me I could put the machine away. I don't need it any more. And the other night I went bowling with my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren. I haven't done anything like that in 25 years.
Do you have a message for other people who are struggling?
This isn't about looking better. This is about feeling better and getting out of pain and getting healthy. This is about people like me reclaiming their lives.
Bud Gregorcic's weight-loss Web site: www.budgregorcic.tsfl.com.