Thrive by IU Health

March 01, 2022

117 pounds down and counting

IU Health Bloomington Hospital

Steve Deckard

He turned 71 last October and he'll tell you he's in the best shape of his life.

He doesn't run marathons or do grueling workouts; Steve Deckard is just trying to turn his health around – and is 117 pounds lighter to show for it.

Like many people, Deckard spent his life working to provide for his wife and two children, never putting his health first. After losing his wife to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Deckard began looking at his habits. When it came time for a general checkup with his doctor in July of 2020, his knees hurt, and he was prediabetic.

"I was shocked when I weighed in. I think I weighed in at 297," says Deckard. "The doctor gave me a choice of physical therapy, knee injections, or knee replacement."

Deckard began to see an IU Health registered dietician that August to lose weight on his doctor's recommendation. She retired in September, and Deckard transitioned to registered dietician nutritionist Robin Parker, RDN, LD, at IU Health Bloomington.

"Steve, or Mr. Deckard as I always call him, was ready to make changes," says Parker. "He was seen in person every 4 – 6 weeks."

Together, Parker and Deckard came up with a plan. Deckard began a consistent carbohydrate intake.

He kept a daily food log and worked with IU Health Rehabilitation & Sports Medicine Center East on an exercise plan, which consisted of swimming, stretching, walking, and free weights.

"I couldn't believe how easy it was just to follow their guidelines," says Deckard. "It just got to be fun."

In January, Deckard became a YMCA member and worked out daily using the exercises he learned. Each day he got stronger, and the pounds started coming off.

"I've gone from taking the arthritis classes and working on the treadmill to swimming laps now, doing free weights. I can swim for 45 minutes. Just a complete turnaround," adds Deckard.

Although his body has transformed and exercising is easier, Deckard would tell you the best part about losing weight is having the energy to keep up with his grandchildren.

"The grandkids came up and we went to the Holiday World last summer. I climbed the ladders, went down the rides with them. There's a lot of things that I can do now at my age," says Deckard.

Not only is Deckard lighter on his feet, but his knee pain is also gone, and he is no longer in the prediabetes range.

"He has avoided knee replacement interventions by losing weight and adhering to our recommendations," says Parker. "When he came back from Holiday World, his face was glowing! He was amazed that he could go up and down the stairs and be active with his grandkids. Hearing this still makes my heart happy."

To achieve weight loss success, Parker says it's best to evaluate your relationship with food and make it a lifestyle.

"Diets typically let us down," she says. "Mr. Deckard changed his relationship with food. He learned to be flexible in his eating; he didn't exclude foods, he found a balance in nutrition and physical activity which led him to the healthy life cycle."

Now 117 pounds lighter (and counting), Deckard's advice is simple: Commit.

"Forget that you've made a resolution and make a commitment for the rest of your life. You're going to live a healthier and happier life."

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