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Marketing Coordinator, RMeert@beaconhealthsystem.org
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In August 2017, Gary Marshall, 68, was admitted to the hospital with congestive heart and kidney failure. At that time, he weighed 412 pounds.
“It was a pretty rough time,” Gary said. “I had three doctors who stood at the foot of my bed and said, ‘Either lose weight or die.’”
Gary spent several days in the hospital while being kept on a strict diet. He was allowed minimal carbs, but no sugar or salt.
“I spent a couple of really long nights really hungry,” he said. “But, by the time I was out of the hospital, I was over that hump.”
Gary was able to adjust his eating habits with the help of his wife, Debbie. She took the doctor’s advice and eliminated certain ingredients out of their diet.
“I’ve totally changed the way we cook, the way we eat,” Debbie said. “We don’t go out half as much as we used to because he needs to eat correctly.”
After Gary was released from the hospital, he started his personal weight lost program. His first 20 pounds came off easy, he said. But, like many weight loss stories, his progress began to plateau.
“The weight was not coming off as much,” Gary said. “It was still very hard for me to move around. My legs were extremely weak, very hard time walking. It’s only two steps up into my house and I had a hard time getting up the two steps.”
Because of Gary’s limited mobility, he found comfort and success at the Beacon Health & Fitness Aquatic Facility.
“I walked three or four laps in the pool [his first time] and that’s about all I could do,” he said. “But, I worked my way up.”
Gary walked laps around the pool and participated in water aerobics classes for the first few months of his program. By working in the water, he was able to build up strength in his body and eventually work his way into the fitness facility.
Since joining Beacon Health & Fitness, Gary has lost over 150 pounds, but he isn’t done yet.
“I still have about 50 pounds to go,” he said. “But I’ll get there sooner or later. I’ve had a lot of help from people here.”
Fitness Specialist, Personal Trainer and Group Exercise Instructor, Lauren Cuskaden, was one of the many Beacon Health & Fitness staff members whose attitude and passion inspired Gary throughout his personal weight loss program.
“She’s super,” said Gary. “I don’t know if I’ve ever known anyone with the enthusiasm she has.”
Lauren has a deep affection for being a part of the member’s journey. She feels she has a responsibility as a Beacon Health & Fitness employee to not only be a main form of motivation, but to also recognize member’s achievements.
“Walking into a gym can be scary, intimidating, and just uncomfortable for many,” said Lauren. “I strongly feel that I, as a trainer and group exercise instructor at Beacon, have a duty to go beyond motivating our members from start to maintenance of their workout routine and continuously recognize the hard work and dedication our members put towards their health and wellness every day.”
Gary and Debbie have both found encouragement from the staff at Beacon Health & Fitness. Whether it was giving fitness advice, showing them how to do exercises on the equipment or just making sure they were alright.
“A lot of encouragement, comes from here, every day,” said Debbie. “People now, when we come in, know him by name and say ‘You doing okay?’ I even found that here when I started going with him.”
Gary’s weight loss success was heavily motivated by the people he loves most; his wife, his two children, six grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
“Just to be able to take the kids out there to park in the middle of the lake and go swimming off the pontoon boat and they love that,” said Gary. “A year ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. I want to be around to see them for a while.”
It has been over a year since Gary started his weight loss program, and within that year, he has seen significant progress in his mobility, energy levels and activeness.
“He does stuff now that he physically never could have done because it would be so exhausting on him,” said Debbie.
With his new level of energy, Gary has a hard time sitting still. His favorite activities outside of the gym include fishing, swimming at the lake and walking his one-year-old labradoodle puppy.
“To anybody out there, it can be done,” said Debbie. “Gary would probably not be with us now had things not happened the way they happened. Had this place not been here, I don’t know where he would have gone or what he would have done.”
If you were inspired by Gary’s story and are looking to live a healthier, more active life, contact our Fitness Coordinators, Zach Benko in Granger, ZBenko@beaconhealthsystem.org, or Emily Mannen in South Bend, EMannen@beaconhealthsystem.org
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