HOLLYWOOD, Md.—At his heaviest John Kreuter, 30, weighed 516 pounds. “I have been big my whole life and my entire life I have always wanted to lose weight. I have always wanted to be skinny,” he said.
Last March he decided to make a change, a big one, and has not looked back.
Behind him are four shirt sizes, 18 inches from his waist, and 200 pounds.
Kreuter said he decided to take the first step when he realized how difficult remedial tasks were becoming. He struggled with simple things like putting on shoes and socks, getting out of the shower, and finding clothes his size.
At one point, he decided enough was enough.
“I guess something just clicked, these are things that you shouldn’t have trouble with, these are things that should come easy,” said Kreuter.
His first thought was that he didn’t believe he could lose weight on his own, so he made an appointment with a bariatric specialist to discuss the option of gastric bypass.
From that, he was referred to a dietician.
“Just from talking to the dietician, I came to the realization that my diet was the reason that I was as big as I was,” said Kreuter.
At his consolation, the dietician asked him what a typical day of food looked liked. Kreuter told her what he had eaten the night before.
“I remember it very vividly,” he said.
From Checkers he ordered 20 chicken wings, two chicken sandwiches, two large sweet teas, and chili cheese fries.
“When I told the dietician, who deals with bariatric patients all the time that are typically excessive eaters, her eyes opened wide,” said Kreuter.
She told him that he could have significant weight loss just from changing his diet and told him to start his change with just two simple steps.
The first was to eat breakfast, which he never used to do. The second was to stop drinking the almost gallon and a half of sweet tea he consumed daily.
“When I left there, I was motivated instantly. I think that’s part of my personality, when I am dedicated to something I do it to the fullest,” said Kreuter.
He went home and wrote himself a diet plan.
“With any person my size, you try diet after diet, and you fall off. You might lose 20 pounds here, 10 pounds there, but eventually you go back to your old habits,” said Kreuter.
He said he had, had success with the Atkins diet, so he tried to stay on their meal plans as well as implement the tips from the dietician.
Kreuter was told to eat five times a day, so every three hours he had a small meal. He began eating a lot of salads and ruffage and completely cut off sweet tea, which he had never been able to successfully do in the past.
“I didn’t add any exercise,” said Kreuter. “At my size, normal activity burned a ton of calories.”
After a month, he lost 30 pounds.
“It just started melting away,” he said. Kreuter had two parts to his weight loss journey. From March to November, he worked on his own and lost 130 pounds. He contributes it the fact that he stopped drinking sweet tea and carbonated beverages, stopped consuming sugar, stop consuming caffeine, and ate a lot of salad and low fat, high protein foods.
“You get those late night cravings, it’s not like I didn’t crave food…the first month was really, really hard,” said Kreuter.
The second step was his surgery. The bariatric surgeon suggested he do the gastric sleeve and not the gastric bypass. This type of surgery, according to their conversation, was less risky and had less of a chance for complications.
According to Kreuter, the gastric sleeve removes 80 percent of your stomach and leaves a continuous sleeve that goes down into the intestines.
The surgery was scheduled for Nov. 3 and Kreuter made sure he did the best he could with his own weight loss before his operation.
“It’s not a cure-all, it’s a step,” said Kreuter about his surgery. “It’s a tool that you can use for weight loss.” He explained that the diet after the surgery is very similar to what he had been doing and he contributes his success and ease with the surgery to the fact that he came prepared.
“I made a lifestyle change,” he said.
Another contribution to his success was that, besides sleep apnea, he was a clean bill of health.
After the surgery, to avoid blood clots in his legs, he was told to walk.
Kreuter started with walking to the end of his driveway and then walking back to the house. After, he walked to his neighbor’s mailbox and walked back. He kept going farther and pushing himself as time went by.
“Now a buddy and I walk our dogs around the neighborhood,” Kreuter said. “We walk a mile everyday, which is something I would have never done before.”
He added that in the past it was hard for him to even walk and talk at the same time.
He is also happy to report that his sleep apnea is almost completely gone and since the surgery in November, he has lost 70 pounds.
He now weighs 316 pounds.
“And I’m still going,” he said.
Kreuter says his goal weight is 220 pounds, but he would be happy at 250 pounds.
To get there, he said, “It’s all about a lifestyle change, creating better habits and doing things better in your life.”
Since the surgery, he has gotten a plethora of positive feedback. He has received compliments from his co-workers at Papa John’s where he has worked for 12 years and holds the position of Area Supervisor for seven stores in Calvert and St. Mary’s. He has also surprised and motivated family and friends.
His life has been more positive as well. His knees don’t bother him at all anymore and neither do his feet. Kreuter said that he used to go through a pair of shoes a month and now he rarely has to purchase new ones.
He has gone from a 6X to a 2X in shirt sizes, he has saved money in food and clothing expenses, he dropped 18 inches in his waist, and he lost 200 pounds.
As he continues to lose weight, Kreuter has set his sights on some new goals. He would like to complete a 5K and work up to a 10K, he would like to compete in gun competition, he would like to go hunting, and he wants to build muscle and be more active overall.
“If there is one thing that I would tell anybody, is that you have to really decide that losing weight is what you want and you have to stick to it,” said Kreuter. “I would say to someone, start small, build on that, and take pride in the results that you get.”