- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) - When he started on his weight-loss journey, Mike Bonaventura lost 60 pounds over a period of several months.

Then he hit a plateau. He realized needed more accountability in his life if he was going to reach his goal of weighing 200 pounds.

He signed up for Weight Watchers in order to track his food intake. He hired a personal trainer, Maggie Keilman.

“I often tell people, the things that really worked for me happened to involve accountability,” Bonaventura, 50, a Crown Point DJ, told The Times in Munster (https://bit.ly/1ASsGAl ). “I gave accountability to myself with Weight Watchers and gave accountability to myself with Maggie. If I hadn’t done that, I still think I would have been 360 pounds and not doing too well at all.”

Bonaventura was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2005, after many years of being sedentary, in part, he says, because he worked as a radio DJ. He didn’t make any lifestyle changes at that time, so he continued to gain weight. He also smoked two packs of cigarettes a day and was on medication to treat his high blood pressure.

Then his doctor recommended Weight Watchers, which she herself had been participating in.

“Looking back on it, it was literally the best thing I could have ever tried,” Bonaventura said. “I think within maybe a couple months of that, I lost 30 pounds.”

He later took the advice of a program leader, who told him that replacing a negative behavior with a positive one will only lead to more positive changes. “If you continue feeding yourself good nutritious food, you’re going to keep doing that because you’re going to want to feel better and better and better,” he said.

He said he also benefited from going into a more active line of DJ work, performing at weddings and other special events where he is on his feet and has to carry equipment around.

He started meeting with Keilman once a week more than three years ago. After their regular meetings, he repeats the routine over two more days, mixing it in with cardio exercises.

Keilman said she tries to keep training fun and work out the entire body. Most of the exercises she touts can be done at home: lunges, squats, pushups, pull-ups, planks.

“I strongly believe in body-weight exercises,” said Keilman, a trainer at Anytime Fitness who owns her own gym, Mak Fitness, in Crown Point.

Keilman noted that even if you plan to do the exercises at home, it helps to have a trainer show you how to do them properly, to avoid injuries. Then there’s that accountability factor.

“It’s more than just the hour you’re with us,” she said. “Mike will be at the grocery store. He’ll say, ‘Is this a good food to eat?’”

More than a year after they began working together, Bonaventura got off his high-blood pressure medication. Six months after that, he was longer considered diabetic.

“My goal here to share this story is to get people motivated to try to change their lifestyle,” he said. “I sometimes feel a lot of adults get a diagnosis and then ignore it and don’t take it seriously. They’re setting themselves up for serious problems down the road.”

Four years after he started, Bonaventura met his goals of getting down to 200 pounds and fitting into size 36 pants. But that doesn’t mean he’s returned to his old ways: He made the positive lifestyle changes permanent.

Keilman said Bonaventura is proof that accountability works.

“He is a walking billboard,” she said. “He says it all. Everyone wants to come up with excuses and say, ‘I don’t have time or money.’ Realistically, it can work for anybody.”


Information from: The Times, https://www.thetimesonline.com

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