Amazing weight loss transformation highlights importance of diet, exercise

January 24, 2014 at 1:11 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Chris Gremillion before and after his 160 pound weight loss.
Chris Gremillion before and after his 160 pound weight loss.
Obesity is an epidemic in not only the United States, but in Louisiana in particular.

According to a poll released last year, Louisiana has the fourth highest incidence of extremely overweight residents, which can lead to chronic medical conditions and early death. While many of those who are overweight may have thought about getting in shape and shedding pounds, few  actually put in the work to do so.  

Dr. V.N. Devarajan is a internist with the St. Charles Community Health Center and St. Charles Parish Hospital. He said more than 20 percent of the patients he sees are extremely obese, which results in several other health problems.

“They get all of these co-morbidities like diabetes, heart disease, sleep apnea and joint deterioration because there is only so much the knee and hip joint can carry. So that is the price,” he said.  

Although pharmaceutical companies offer weight loss medicines, Devarajan is hesitant to prescribe them due to side effects that can make an already unhealthy person’s health even worse.

Instead, Devarajan orders his patients to balance the amount of calories they intake with the number of calories they burn each day.

“If a person is obese he can diet, lessen calories. You don’t have to be too greedy. You can probably spend 250 calories more than you take in and over a period of four days that is 1,000 calories, which is one pound,” Devarajan said. “So every four days you lose one pound. You are not greedy, it is achievable and the goal is realistic.”

Devarajan stresses that a necessary part of any weight loss strategy is exercise.

“The power of exercise and doing the diet will achieve the result. For the majority of patients this is possible,” he said.

He said through a balanced lifestyle people can experience health benefits gradually, but the main problem he has experienced is patients who do not stick to the program.

“What you accumulated in 30 or 40 years you cannot lose in one week, but if you take one or two years the goal is achievable and you can sustain it,” he said. “You cannot just do it for two weeks and give up on it. A lot of people that is just what they do. They are really enthusiastic, they start and after three or four weeks they just run out of gas and give up and it is the same old story.”

Devarajan said the biggest part of changing your body and health for the better is first changing your mindset.

“There is a difference between champions - they are the ones who persevere and sustain it and take that extra step,” he said. “I wish we could modify our mind and get that willpower.”

Chris Gremillion, 39, knows about obesity first hand and how to combat it. The St. Rose native used to weigh 350 pounds.

Despite his obesity and corresponding health problems, Gremillion never saw a doctor about his weight issues. “I was too scared to go to the doctor. I knew I needed to, but the fear was really big,” he said.

Determined to do something about his weight on his own, Gremillion began working out.

“For eight or nine years I worked out, but I would still eat anything I wanted. I got down to about 250 and I stopped,” he said.

In 2010, Gremillion joined the Snap Fitness located on Almedia Road in St. Rose and finally dedicated himself completely to losing weight.

“I guess I wasn’t as serious and educated as I should have been before that. Once I joined Snap Fitness I got focused and honed in on fitness,” he said.  

Now, less than four years later, Gremillion’s weight is under 190 and he has lost more than 160 pounds since he first began his journey to wellness so many years ago.

He said the secret to his weight loss seems simple.

“Move more and eat less, that is my motto,” Gremillion said. “It is not easy. I tell people all the time it is a process. You can’t wake up one day and be the weight you want to be. It is a marathon not a sprint.”

To share his story with others, Gremillion created a flyer he posted at the gym showing his transformation.

“I had people come up to me and they are convinced that is not me,” he said. “I strictly did it on blood, sweat and tears. I was amazed that I was able to do that.”

Kim Rodriguez, owner of the Almedia Road Snap Fitness  in St. Rose where Gremillion works out, said right around the beginning of the year the fitness center began to receive an increase in calls and customers stopping by to sign up.

“It has picked up since the New Year,” she said. “You do see a trend of more people coming and calling and I am guessing New Year’s resolutions are why.”

According to Rodriguez, there are different types of people who work out at her facility. Those who are committed to getting in shape and come numerous times per week, those who come only occasionally and others who sign up for memberships and quickly quit coming after a few days in the gym.

“I think some people come sign up just to make themselves feel better, like they are doing something and then you never see them again and then later on they cancel,” she said.

For people who are not self-motivated, Rodriguez suggests teaming up with the gym’s personal trainer. She said that is the push that those looking to get into better shape sometimes need.

“We do have a trainer now. She has a couple of clients that she works with and I can see that if they weren’t being pushed they couldn’t accomplish their goals,” she said. “Training does help for some people. People that need that extra push that need to be told what to do.”

Gustavo Martinez, 31, of St. Rose, is one of those new gym members who started working out since around the New Year who needs that extra push, but he uses technology as his motivator.

What got him to buy into the gym was being introduced to a smartphone application that provides workout instructions and motivates him when exercising.

“I got motivated by some videos on Youtube for Freeletics. It is an application I downloaded on my iPhone. It kind of motivated me to start coming here,” he said.

Ten years ago Martinez used to workout often and was in good shape, but he said his life has gotten increasingly hectic and he lost the drive to exercise after getting married.

After he began to experience some health problems last year, he knew it was time to get back in the gym.

“I was struggling with my respiration,” he said. “I want to get in better shape and be healthier.”

Three weeks into his gym membership, he has been coming five times a week and has already lost six pounds.

“I feel stronger and more focused,” Martinez said.

Martinez said he feels good going after his goal of self-improvement, but it remains to be seen if he will stick with it.

Good thing he has a model to emulate. Even though he has lost over 160 pounds, Gremillion also works out and continues to exercise before work five times a week. He said maintaining that lifestyle is the most important thing when it comes to staying healthy and keeping the weight off.

“I go before 3 a.m. It is tough, but it is that lifestyle. There are times when I can’t get up, I am tired and so frustrated, but it is just that mentality to do it,” he said. “You’ve got to have that will and that drive.”

 For Gremillion there is no other choice.

“It is either that or you will die,” he said.

View other articles written Kyle Barnett

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