Most people that have tried to lose weight or get healthier know that having the right mindset and information can go a long way. For Larry and Kelly Deckard, it took a wake up call to jump start their decision to become healthy.
“Three years ago I was pretty sick,” Larry said. “I had some high blood pressure issues, and upon reading my blood pressure I had anxiety from that and then it went up from there.”
He said his wake up call to get healthier started with an early morning scare.
“It was about 1:30 a.m., I woke up and told (Kelly) that I think I need to go (to the emergency room),” Larry said. “It was extreme ... We came (to Hendricks Regional Health ER) and they checked (my blood pressure) and it was close to (210 over 110). It was up there in stroke land. That really scared me bad (it was a) wake up call. That’s when I realized my health isn’t there. You think, ‘this is the way I’m going to go out — I’m heavy.’ At that point ... I was 299 pounds (at) 5 foot 8 inches. I just thought, ‘I’m happy, I got set into a happy marriage, a happy life, everything is going well for me,’ and then that happened.”
He said his doctor then put him on medicine for his blood pressure and cholesterol and after losing 30 pounds he began to look for ways to get even healthier.
That’s when Larry, Lt. CSI detective with the Hendricks County Sheriff’s Department, inquired about a co-worker’s recent weight loss and was turned onto the Great Shape Program through Hendricks Regional Health.
Jenny Bates, wellness coordinator at HRH, oversees the program and said it has been in existence since 2008.
“Typically, each group is comprised of 10 to 12 individuals,” she said. “They are selected, so there’s a pretty rigorous process to apply. We don’t actually pick people, they have to apply for the program. Great Shape, a huge component ... we really want to emphasize is it’s two parts: Activity and nutrition. The nutrition
component uses a program called Lifesteps. Lifesteps is really the nutrition backbone of the program and that is typically 16 weeks. The overall program is generally six months, but we really focus hard and fast on nutrition by using the Lifesteps curriculum.”
Bates explained that Great Shape is the program and Lifesteps is the manual. She added that the program brings in registered dietitians and uses Target Metabolism.
“Target Metabolism goes in at the beginning, middle, and end to get that additional measuring component,” she said. “That’s a really cool piece for (participants in the Great Shape Program) too, but we sure couldn’t do it without the dietitians.”
She said the Great Shape program as a whole allows for participants to get a small group experience of education and support. It also utilizes social media like Facebook and blogs to help encourage and inspire others.
Bates said the program started within the hospital, and then branched out to Hendricks County government employees, with the future goal being to expand it to other corporate settings. She added that Lifesteps curriculum is available for everyone in the community.
Deckard said from what he had learned, the program seemed to be exactly what he was looking for and he got his wife in on it too.
“I e-mailed (the program information) to (Kelly), we’re both county workers, and I said, ‘Let’s try this,’” he said.
After being accepted into the program as the first husband and wife to join at the same time, they embarked on their six-month mission in January 2012.
The Deckards soon realized the program aims to teach its participants how to be responsible for their own wellness, while providing them the information they need to be successful.
“(The program is) going to guide you and give you an education, it’s an educational series on life change,” Larry said. “The program, now that I’ve been through it, is excellent. It’s not a diet, it’s how to change your life, and how to eat right. What’s going in your mouth? How many calories you are burning, and what is your blood draw saying to you? If you listen to everything they say, it’ll give you a guideline of how to do it.”
Bates said that’s the goal of the program: To teach the participants how to change their lives.
“What Life Steps tries to do in the teaching curriculum is teach long-term behavior change,” she said. “It’s not a diet. We offer fitness classes that are available to the community — and this is true for everybody at the hospital. We try to partner with the HRH YMCA whenever we can, to make sure that people just aren’t eating better, but they’re moving more.”
Deckard said the Great Shape staff will answer questions and the main goal is for participants to realize they can eat what they want, they just have to learn to be smart about it.
“You can have your ice cream, you can have your cake and eat it too,” Larry said. “You can still eat healthy, you can have a better life. I’m
still losing, I’m at a plateau, but I’m still going down. I’m within 53 to 54 pounds, so if you add the 30, that’s 84 pounds of total loss from myself and the program. I’m shooting for 100. That’s what I want to get to.”
He added that even though he’s graduated from the program, he’s still very active with the classes.
“I give a thumbs up to the program,” he said. “I’m now a coach to two other guys that really need it. I was a sick man, now I’m getting healthy. I’m healthier ... due to Great Shape.”
He said he has also given presentations at weekly Great Shape meetings.
“I just brought in my old clothes and my class picture of the Great Shape, brought salt bags in (roughly equaling the weight he had dropped), they didn’t know what I was doing,” he said. “I let (the salt bags) hit the floor loud. I said, ‘for all of you here that know me and don’t know me, this is what I’ve dropped.’ At that point in time, that’s what it was. I said, ‘this can be you. If you do everything they say, it’s here for you to help you. Choose the way you live.’”
Kelly — who works as an administrative assistant for home detention at the work release facility — noted one of the most important things is that the individual has to truly want to change to make the program successful.
“You have to want to do this,” he said. “It’s a commitment for life.”
Larry, who has dropped roughly 12 waist sizes, and Kelly, who has lost about 36 pounds, realize that they’ve made the necessary life changes to continue to be healthy.
He said he used to be afraid of buffets because of the potential to overeat, but that’s no longer a worry.
“They give you the education, you just have to go through the whole process,” Larry said. “Once you’ve been trained how to eat, and what you need to eat, and how to eat it, they teach you how to do that.”
Kelly added, “Once you get to this program and they teach you how to eat, you can’t go back to eating how you used to. You just feel sick and you just can’t do it.”
The Deckards have been married for 22 years. They have two sons, two grandsons, and a granddaughter on the way.
“When you work in homicide, you don’t know when you’re coming home,” Larry said. “(It could be) 48 hours plus on your feet and in the same clothes that you left with, no shower, and barely any food. It makes a huge difference because no matter if you’re heavy or thin, you’re worn out. I would rather be thin and worn out, because when I was heavy and doing that work I honestly asked myself, ‘how much longer can I do this?’”
Kelly said she’s now off her cholesterol medicine and Larry is not far behind, with his being cut in half, and they will continue to utilize the information they learned in Great Shape.
“The program is a success, if you want it to be,” Larry said. “The education is there, you just have to step up to plate and talk to yourself and say, ‘how do I want to choose the way I want to live?’”