Rhodes is a nutritionist, wellness consultant and director of Rhodes Preventive Health Institute in Hagerstown.
For two or three months, Kesecker kept thinking about giving her a call, but decided to give the South Beach diet a try, instead.
But he wasn’t sure what Rhodes offered would work. He had tried everything else, though, so one more attempt wouldn’t hurt, he thought.
What he didn’t realize, he said, was that it would be the first step in getting his life back.
In June of 2003, Kesecker arrived at Rhodes’ office, where she asked about his dieting history and the foods he liked to eat. She evaluated his medical history and the medications he was taking.
“I also met with her to learn how to prepare menus — about six small meals a day, eating every 2 1/2 to 3 hours — and how to make food selections that would target a normal blood sugar range throughout the day to prevent sugar spikes and crashes and to fend off cravings,” he said.
He learned to incorporate foods high in fiber into his meals, reduce sugar consumption and eat more fruit and vegetables.
Kesecker said Rhodes’ food planning also took into account his natural circadian rhythm, where his metabolism naturally slows as he moves through the day to nighttime rest.
Equally important, she recommended that he include exercise in his daily routine.
“My first assignment was to walk 15 minutes a day,” Kesecker said. “For me, then, that was two blocks from my house and back. I thought I would die. But my body gradually adjusted and I could walk more. So, I began doing 25 minutes.”
Still, Kesecker said he was doubtful that his new weight loss plan would work.
“My head was full of diet thinking,” he said. “Do this for X period of time, get to normal weight and then eat normally, which is what put the weight on in the first place. My head was full of deprivation, going hungry and limited, tasteless choices.”
But Kesecker said Rhodes is not about dieting. She emphasizes lifestyle change. And that was different from his past approaches to losing weight and keeping it off.
Rhodes became his primary support system, Kesecker said, “because she teaches what she has learned in her own life. Jeanne researches the science, but she also has lived the journey. She knew that the lifestyle changes I made would work if I followed them.”
In addition, Kesecker has found support at the classes and group discussions he attends at Rhodes’ office.
“There is no blame for struggle, but there is a lot of encouragement to keep going,” he said. “We are all trying to change our heads, as well as our bodies.”
Eighteen months after beginning the program, Kesecker now weighs about 255 pounds.
“I began the program in June of 2003 and reached maintenance in November of 2004,” he said. “But, I assure you that I didn’t reach a destination at that point. I’m on a journey.”
In fact, he noted, since 2004, he has regained some weight and lost again —always during times of crisis.