For some, a picture is worth 1,000 words. For Bill Abeling, 51, of Vacaville, one photo is worth 100 pounds—the weight loss goal he set after seeing himself on the cover of Wellspring last summer. By the end of January, Bill had more than met his goal, logging an incredible 125-pound weight loss. He’s now moved on to maintenance and toning and is enjoying life to the fullest.
Bill and his family appeared on the magazine’s cover with their physician, Nancy McAfee, M.D., of the NorthBay Center for Primary Care. The story was about how Dr. McAfee treated their whole family. But, while they were the “picture of health,” Bill admits he put himself last when it came to health care.
“Dr. McAfee certainly tried her best to get me into her office,” Bill says. “She would send me lab slips noted ‘ninth reminder’ and still I put things off. And my wife Barbara, who’s a nurse, did her share of nagging to no avail.”
This is part of a lifelong transformation. I’m putting myself first, so I’ll be here for my family for a long, long time.
But that changed when the father of three saw his image in Wellspring. “I didn’t like what I saw. Sometimes you have to hold up the mirror and look at yourself,” he says. “I was afraid to do that, but Wellspring made me look, and I had to say ‘enough is enough.’”
Study after study shows that men tend to avoid healthcare, fail to get routine checkups and even delay care for potentially serious conditions. Their reasons are varied, but range from a dislike of personal discussions to thinking that “feeling good” equals “healthy” and “no news is good news.” When men do visit a physician, it is often at the request of the women in their lives.
Despite his fear, Bill scheduled a checkup with Dr. McAfee and got his lab work done. “I expected the worst, but the news wasn’t bad. I hadn’t yet developed diabetes or any other problem related to obesity,” Bill says. And with Dr. McAfee’s blessing, he began a determined effort to lose weight.
Bill started walking two miles in the morning and two miles at lunch. He walked in the evenings and started strength training. And he gave his diet an overhaul.
“I used food for energy, but I ate the wrong food,” Bill says. “Now, while I don’t follow any certain diet plan, I eat in moderation—single portions with no second helpings. And, no glass of wine in the evenings, alcohol is out.”
Bill’s weight had taken its toll on his feet, however. “I have high arches and prior to my weight loss they had collapsed under my weight,” he explains. “My feet could get very painful.”
Dr. McAfee referred Bill to Vacaville podiatrist Kevin Miller who created orthotic inserts for his shoes. With his feet improved, Bill hopes to begin running again.
Now that his clothes are falling off his 6´5? frame, he’s amazed at his new-found energy and self-confidence.
“This is part of a lifelong transformation,” he says with pride. “I’m putting myself first, in a good way, so I’ll be here for my family for a long, long time.
“And if I can do it, anyone can. Excuses are excuses. You have to make the time and just do it. Anyone can, you just have to want it enough.”
And, he’s even amazed his doctor. “Bill’s success inspires me to keep pressing on—even if it seems that the patient is not listening. Something is sinking in,” she says. “I’m excited about his weight loss but even more so for his lifestyle changes.”
The Benefits of Walking
Walking is such a simple exercise and yet it can have a powerful effect on your health. Fewer than 50 percent of adults do enough physical activity to gain any fitness benefits and as a result, inactivity is the second leading preventable cause of death, right behind tobacco use. Here’s what walking can do for you:
- Walking is an aerobic activity that burns calories and contributes to weight loss. Losing just 10 percent of your body weight reduces your risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent.
- Walking strengthens your heart, helping reduce your risk of heart attack.
- Walking is good for your bones. Women who walked about one mile each day have higher whole-body bone density than those who walked a shorter distance.
- Walking helps lift depression. Studies show that walking for 30 minutes, three to five times a week, can reduce symptoms of depression.
- Walking improves fitness. Walking just three times a week for 30 minutes can significantly increase cardio and respiratory fitness.
- Walking improves physical function, helping prevent physical disability in older persons.