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Baby Steps Toward Better Health with Ray Glessner


It took a wake-up call from his doctor to get Parma resident Ray Glessner thinking seriously about his health. The 43-year-old’s blood pressure and cholesterol had been elevated for years, both of which are known risk factors for heart and vascular disease.

But Ray had not realized that he was also significantly overweight.

“I had thought I was about average for my height, so I was surprised when my doctor told me I was carrying an extra 35 pounds,” he said. “I knew immediately that it was time to start taking care of my health.” Still, Ray wasn’t interested in doing a radical 180 with his diet or activity level.

“I wanted to be realistic and make changes I’d be likely to stick with,” he explained. “If I had to completely change my lifestyle in order to lose weight and improve my health, it wasn’t going to work for me.”

Ray participates in the Allegiance Health’s health and wellness program, It’s Your Life, which is sponsored by the Department of Prevention and Community Health. So, he began by asking his It’s Your Life coach to help him map out a simple strategy for losing weight and getting healthier.

“I learned I was doing things that were actually sabotaging my weight loss,” said Ray. “For example, I would skip breakfast and then eat a big lunch and big dinner, finishing out the day with an unhealthy snack.”

To help him kick-start a healthier routine, his coach suggested small steps Ray could take right away. One was to begin eating five small meals a day, including breakfast, which would get his metabolism going earlier and keep it going longer. At lunch time, instead of opting for fast food, Ray began taking his lunch to work and incorporating a more fruits and vegetables.

He also decided to give up drinking soda pop throughout the day and switched to water. Doing that wasn’t easy, but the hardest step would be giving up the beloved chocolate milkshakes he and his son traditionally stopped for after his son’s games. Happily for Ray, his It’s Your Life coach explained that it’s not necessary to cut out treats completely, just to limit their size and number. That also helps avoid cravings, which can lead to overeating.

Within six months, Ray’s small, but consistent steps resulted in losing 30 pounds and having more energy. At that point, he decided to begin what he calls “Stage Two,” of his goal, which is to add in more activity and lose another 15 pounds. Ray recently began to use the weight room at Western High School during his son’s wrestling practices.

“This easily fits into my schedule,” he said. “Rather than stand around during practice, I found a way to get fit. And I didn’t have to make a big lifestyle change to do it.”

Tips for taking small steps toward better health:

  • It’s a myth that it costs more to eat healthy. You can actually save money by reducing the amount of pop, fancy coffee drinks and high-calorie treats you buy.
  • Don’t give up eating what you love—just reduce the portion size.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day, and don’t skip breakfast.