Allow Heath Garlow to brag.
He’s earned it.
Garlow, 42, an adult education teacher for the Seneca Nation of Indians in Irving, has participated in the Seneca Nation Weight Loss Challenge twice.
He started juicing last fall, before the first 12-week challenge started in January and has been happily zealous health and fitness-wise between challenges.
That’s what happens when a strong diet, combined with ample exercise, melts off the pounds.
At his latest weight loss challenge weigh-in Thursday night, Garlow learned he has lost 103 pounds since early last October, when he decided to confront his diabetes head-on.
He has gone from 283 to 180 pounds.
Garlow is off his diabetes-related medications, as he told me for the juicing story in today’s WNY Refresh, and has lost quite a bit of weight since he posed for the photo above, taken by News Staff Photographer Harry Scull Jr. a few weeks back.
His weight loss started with a mental shift – a conscious, determined decision to change his lifestyle, Garlow said.
He used juicing to supplement many of his meals, but still ate healthy, solid foods. He also bumped up his exercise regimen.
The first several weeks were the hardest. But he was determined. He got support from his wife, Azalia, the juicing expert in the family, as well as dozens of friends and acquaintances who participated along with him in the weight loss challenges.
The temptations can still be there, as Garlow’s friend Mike Jimerson told me for a recent story on the efforts the Seneca Nation and Seneca Diabetes Foundation have made to address diabetes among its people.
"Everybody around you is eating junk food – pizza, wings – and they’re trying to entice you to eat that kind of stuff," he said.
Jimerson lost more than 80 pounds during the weight loss challenge earlier in the year.
Far more Senecas continue to live a life that puts them on a path to diabetes, but the efforts a growing number of Senecas are making to address their health have become much more commonplace in recent months.
Garlow is among the examples, and gladly shared with me the before and after medical test results that show, clearly, the connection between health, diet and exercise.
Among his numbers changes from early last October to recent weeks:
• His blood-sugar level has gone from 7.5 mg per deciliter (high) to 5.1 (normal)
• His blood pressure has fallen from 120/86 to 102/64.
• His triglyceride level was 573 mg per deciliter, compared to about 200 mg now.
• His LDL "bad cholesterol" was too high to calculate; its at a normal 52 now.
• He has lost 16 inches off his waist.
• Once deficient in vitamin D levels, he’s now in the normal range.
• His eye pressure readings have fallen by half.
Before the weight loss challenge, "My heart, my liver, my brain, and basically every organ in my body was under attack from a most unlikely of adversaries: Me...," Garlow writes in a paper entitled, "Positive Effects of Seneca Nation Weight Loss Challenge."
"My weapon of choice with which I was so skilled: Food."
His weapon has become his trusty companion.
He’s got the old pants, and a new shirt, to prove it.
– Refresh Editor Scott Scanlon