It is that time of year again. The time when you promise yourself you will get back on the wagon: start eating right, exercising more and refocus your priorities.
But what keeps you from breaking those resolutions? So many people start the new year strong, then fade out of a good routine.
This vicious cycle was one with which Westerville resident Bill Streetman was more than familiar. In 2010, he weighed 404 pounds.
“I was at the end of my rope,” said Bill. “I felt like I had tried everything to lose weight. I couldn’t ride a bike anymore, sit comfortably on an airplane or in a booth at a restaurant, so I would make up excuses of why I couldn’t do something all because of my size.”
While temporarily living in Michigan, Bill elected to have gastric bypass surgery.
“I was working as a project manager, and the project I failed at was myself. Something drastic had to change; and I decided surgery was the best tool for me to do that,” he said.
From the start, Bill approached his weight loss journey methodically. Exactly one year after gastric bypass surgery in October 2011, Bill was half his size, down to 202 pounds.
“Before I even underwent surgery, I made a pre-surgery and a post-surgery diet and exercise plan. It didn’t go perfectly, but I learned that I had to be honest with myself and take control of my daily routine.”
And that first year was not without many more transitions.
“It was more than diet and exercise. From your relationships with family and friends to work, you can’t lose that much weight and not have it affect every part of your life,” said Bill.
A little more than a year after the operation, he sold his business in Michigan and moved back to Westerville.
“I couldn’t work 120 hours a week anymore. I had to make myself a priority in order to serve my family and community. I loved Westerville and wanted to come back home.”
Once settling back into the area, Bill knew his next step was to get plugged back in at the Westerville Community Center.
“I just had to start. I signed up for aerobics classes and ended up sitting through half the work out in the beginning. But it was a snowball effect. Once you get moving, you gain more endurance and confidence, and before you know it you are taking classes several times a week.”
The friendship, accountability and flexibility that come from group fitness classes have kept Bill motivated.
“It is one thing to lose the weight, but it is another thing to maintain. This is not your typical gym, there are so many options to keep your workouts fresh. The people who go to the Community Center are fantastic and encouraging. And no one is there to judge, we want to see each other be successful.”
And Bill took to one fitness instructor in particular.
“You know a great instructor when you work very hard in a class but it doesn’t seem like it. That is Lynn Aventino. She is an inspiration to me. She wants to help you get stronger and healthier while having fun,” he said.
Lynn, a Group Fitness Instructor at the Westerville Community Center, reciprocates the admiration.
“When I see someone like Bill and how far he has come over the last few years, it makes me want to be better,” she said. “Bill gets it. He knows how difficult it is to start a new routine and he will go out of his way to make new people feel welcome and break the ice.”
Bill loves sharing his story, and even created a website to write about his weight loss experience.
“It is not only a good form of therapy for me, but I want to be able to support others as well. It is important to know you aren’t alone during this process,” said Bill.
His positive attitude caught the eye of WebMD Magazine. In their January/February issue, Bill’s story will reach more than eight million readers in doctors’ offices across the nation and online.
Now what will your story be? No matter the time of year, your fitness level, shape or size, Bill would say, “What are you waiting for?”