Finding My Fountain of Youth
By Jan Tillotson
My first visit to the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine was in 1980 with my husband, Tim. We drank the water and had fun pretending like it was going to make a difference. It didn’t, of course. Thirty years later, at the age of 67 and right here in my hometown of St. Augustine, I have finally found what is proving to be my real Fountain of Youth.
In December 2009, Tim and I attended a Christmas party and caught up with a colleague we hadn’t seen in a couple years. She looked fabulous, as if her body was aging in reverse. She had lost some weight, but she always appeared slender to us anyway. Something was different about her, though: she radiated health. I asked her what she was doing, and she said she was involved in a program called Take Shape For Life. She offered to explain it to us, so we made a one hour appointment at her office. Her enthusiasm was contagious.
At first the program seemed expensive. After 102 years of joint effort to get rid of weight and keep it off, Tim and I decided that if this worked, it would be worth every nickel. Eventually, we understood that since the program is based on meal replacements, it’s actually quite reasonable. We figured we could do anything for 35 days, so we jumped in with all four feet. At first, I wasn’t crazy about the meals. As the weeks went by and I weaned myself off sugar, salt and fat, my taste buds changed, and I found the food more and more tasty.
In that first month, I lost 15 pounds and Tim lost over 20. Neither of us had ever experienced such dramatic results. Even more impressive than the weight loss was our developing sense of health and empowerment. I felt like I was in the middle of a miracle. Within two months, Tim’s weight loss was at 30 pounds and mine was at 23, which put me within 4 pounds of what I weighed at high school graduation.
While living and working in Minnesota for the next 6 months, we maintained our weight loss. That was a first. During this annual excursion, Tim typically gains 1-2 pounds a week and I gain about 1 pound a week. In other words, this year I was about 47 pounds lighter at the end of my Minnesota visit than I was at the same time last year.
Another odd thing happened: we got smaller. When I went shopping for the first time in months, I found that even a size 6 was baggy. The first time I tried on a size 4, I had to leave the store without making a purchase. It didn’t compute. I’ve weighed less than this at times, but I’ve never worn a size 4, and now even those clothes are big. Tim went from a size 38 to a 32. He had trouble comprehending his new size, too. He bought a pair of size 34 jean shorts, and they fall off if he doesn’t wear a belt. We believe that our tremendously improved nutrition has played a significant part in changing the composition of our bodies. We have maintained the same exercise routines, and yet our bodies are making more muscle mass, so we are wearing smaller clothes.
The best part of my experience is that I am healthier than I have been in at least 20 years, and so is Tim. After 3 months on the program, his blood work was better than it has been in his adult life. In fact, he no longer needs blood pressure medication.
Tim and I haven’t made any significant lifestyle changes other than the Take Shape For Life program, which convinces me that this program works. It has changed our lives for the better in so many ways. When I ran in a 5k race this summer, my time was over 2 minutes faster than it was the past few years. It’s pretty amazing to get faster and stronger as I grow older. I really have found my Fountain of Youth, and my body is proving that this time it isn’t pretend.