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Many people joke that they’ve gained the “COVID 19” pounds since the pandemic shutdown began, akin to what first-year college students lament as the “freshman 15.”
While some people are stress eating during the pandemic, Lilac CLA resident Tyrone C. has kept to a healthy eating and exercise program that has helped him lose 40 pounds since February 2019, when he weighed in at 310 pounds. During his weight-loss journey, he has had a team of Pittsburgh Mercy colleagues — Kathy Musgrove, Melvin Simonson, and James Wotring —diligently working to keep him on the path to good health.
“This was an eye opener to us,” says Lilac CLA supervisor Hoda Lichwala. “Even though he had no health issues, we were all very concerned. The staff and I put our heads together to see how we could assist Tyrone to be hypervigilant and prevent any future health issues and risks.”
The Lilac colleagues have kept exercising fun and interesting for Tyrone, encouraging him to do chair exercises and go for long walks. Although he had joined a gym about three years ago, he has, like most people, only gone a handful of times, Hoda says.
“He enjoys working out at home more,” she continues. “He exercises by going up and down the steps 10 to 15 times a day.”
The Intellectual Disabilities residential programs instituted My Plate guidance to assist with portion control. Following the plan, the staff increased Tyron’s vegetable, fruit, and water intake. Breakfast might be low sugar cereal and yogurt or eggs and sausage. A typical lunch might include a lunch meat sandwich on whole wheat bread, salad, and fruit. Dinner leans more heavily on vegetables and proteins, and less on starches and carbs, for instance, spaghetti with cabbage, peppers, and vegetables in the sauce and a salad. Snacks might be rice cakes, baked chips, applesauce, fruit, or yogurt.
“In addition to that, we eliminated processed foods and microwavable foods,” Hoda says. “We substituted and alternated unhealthy snacks and drinks with healthy ones. At the same token, we did not become restrictive.
“In addition to that, we eliminated processed foods and microwavable foods,” Hoda says. “We substituted and alternated unhealthy snacks and drinks with healthy ones. At the same token, we did not become restrictive.”
Thursdays and alternate weekends are special days where Tyrone and his roommates get to eat out (mainly McDonalds ) and drink unlimited pop. For special occasions, parties, and holidays, Tyrone was free to indulge in whatever he wanted. Yet he continued to lose the weight.
Tyrone works at Kuhn’s, a job his Pittsburgh Mercy employment specialist helped him secure. He also participates in the Special Olympics and TRY Camp. “He takes daily walks,” says Melvin. “Also at his job at Kuhn’s, Tyrone empties out produce boxes, takes the boxes apart, folds them and sweeps. He is very active at his job.”
As of July 2020, Tyrone’s weight is 270 — a big drop from 310 with making minimal changes. James and Melvin concur that he’s definitely more confident and prouder of himself. “His mother and sister were shocked to see how much weight he lost,” Hoda says. “They had thanked us tremendously for putting so much effort and persistence in assisting him lose the weight.”