Weight Management grads share stories of weight loss success

Expert guest blog: Jessi Boehme, MS, RDN, is a Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist at Mary Free Bed. Following is a Q&A with graduates of the Mary Free Bed Weight Management program.

The Centers for Disease Control report 70 percent of adults ages 20 and older are overweight or obese. Carrying extra weight can put a person at increased risk for stroke, heart attack and numerous other health concerns. The good news? There are proven ways to address this public health issue.

For example, people who participate in Mary Free Bed’s Weight Management program lose an average of 30 pounds or 12 percent of their initial weight in 20 weeks. Stride — a continuation of the program —helps participants to keep the weight off by providing accountability, nutrition lessons, activities and support. It’s held at the Mary Free Bed YMCA.

Our data shows that those who participate in the initial Foundation portion of the program and then continue with the 12-week Stride portion continue to lose weight with an average of 14.8 percent loss at the one-year mark and 15.9 percent loss at the 18-month mark.

Sho Suzuki and Kyle Schmuker, members of Mary Free Bed’s Finance team, share their personal experiences in the program:


Sho Suzuki pictured before and after participation in the Weight Management program.

Why did you join the Weight Management program?

Sho: I have a history of getting in really good shape and eating healthy/exercising for three to six months, then doing nothing but eating pizza for six months. I joined this program to bring a healthier balance to my life. The goal was to eat more nutritiously and to incorporate more physical activity into my day-to-day life, but mainly to build sustainable habits.

Kyle: I got my bloodwork from my biometric screening and it was out of control. Later in the year, I was thinking about what I should do to improve this and heard about the program.

How did you learn about the program?

Sho: Being a Mary Free Bed employee, I heard great things about the program. After an unrelated meeting with the Nutrition department, a co-worker and I mulled over the idea of joining. After a lengthy SWOT analysis and learning that cutting out zero calorie pop/caffeine was not a deal breaker, we decided to join.

Kyle: I found out about the program during a meeting with the nutrition team.


Kyle Schmuker pictured before and after participation in the Weight Management program.

What were some of the most helpful things you learned throughout participation in the program?


  • Accountability of the weekly meetings/weigh-ins
  • Education about diet, nutrition and fitness
  • Comprehensive approach of a nutritionist, exercise physiologist, psychologist and physician was very beneficial and unlike anything else I have experienced
  • Using the meal replacements to reboot my system and build a solid foundation
  • Going through this journey with a co-worker helped with the daily accountability of lunches during this initially difficult, but rewarding, process.

Kyle: The most helpful things throughout the program were learning how to estimate calories, meal plan and how to find exercise that I enjoy instead of forcing myself to run.

How has the program helped you?

Sho: I am healthier, happier, and my co-workers no longer call me “Tubby.”

Kyle: All of my bloodwork came back within normal ranges. I also have more energy and sleep better.

What new habits have you formed?


  • Increased mindfulness of my daily eating/activity habits
  • Increased exercise/activity to five times a week
  • Plan ahead for meals
  • Make healthier decisions when eating out.

Kyle: I have started scheduling exercise and doing so regularly. I estimate my calories every meal and plan my meals on a daily basis.

Have you gotten off of any medication or made any significant health changes?

Sho: My blood pressure and cholesterol are back to normal levels after being slightly elevated a year ago.

Kyle: I was able to reduce my GERD medication to every other day.

Would you recommend this program and why?

Sho: Yes. I have never tried any other weight loss/management programs, but I had a tremendous experience with the Mary Free Bed Weight Management program. I am not just saying this because I lost weight and my blood work improved, but because of the personal attention, care and support I received from the Weight Management team.

Kyle: I would recommend this program, because it is the first thing that has worked for me to control my weight and improve my health. The program doesn’t make being healthy an extreme, all-or-nothing ordeal like many fad diets have, so I didn’t feel like I was depriving myself. After a few weeks in the program, I started to feel like I had the knowledge and tools to be in control of my own health and my own choices, even when I made a mistake or after a bad day with food.

Mary Free Bed’s Weight Management Program encompasses much more than a number on a scale. Participants develop self-confidence and healthier relationships with food, improve mental health and well-being, and decrease medications. It’s not about “losing” weight, but rather, getting rid of it and not finding it again in the future. In 2016, the program helped people get rid of a combined total of 2,060 pounds!

Want to add yours to the mix? We have new classes starting in the new year! Sign up today using this form or call 616.840.8908.

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