About this time last year, Wendy Willis decided to act on her new year's resolution to lose weight. After a tip from one of her clients at who told her how he had lost 40 pounds, this Waterford resident signed up for the 12-week program offered by Weight No Longer in East Lyme.
For much of her life, Willis had weighed about 160 pounds. At her heaviest, she tipped the scales at 220 pounds. "It just kind of creeps up on you," Willis said. "My doctor kept saying, 'Do something!'"
Willis went to one of the weekly seminars at Weight No Longer and decided to join the program. She signed up initially for 12-weeks but opted to stick with it for longer than that. The weight came off gradually, she said, about two pounds a week but the diet was easy to follow, the food was good, and the more she learned, the more motivated she was to stick to it.
"I have learned over the past year about my eating habits. I know how to eat now," she said. "I know what food to put together and what not to put together and that’s what they teach me. It’s really not a diet. It’s a life change"
Today, when Willis steps on the scale, she weighs in at 133 pounds but, even better than that, she said, she no longer needs to take medication to control her blood pressure or cholesterol levels.
Weight No Longer Celebrates Its Second Year in East Lyme
Husband and wife team, Tony and Jane Buglione, first opened Weight No Longer in East Lyme on January 11, 2011. The program is medically-based—Jane is a nurse with 26 years experience and a masters degree in nursing from the University of Connecticut—and uses the Ideal Protein protocol.
It is essentially a low carbohydrate, low fat, and sparing protein diet. People who sign up for the 12-week program eat eight ounces of lean protein and four cups of vegetables daily, with dietary supplements provided by three Ideal Protein foods. Alcohol is totally off-limits for the duration of the program, although once people enter the maintenance phase, they can have a glass of wine a day.
Members have the option to meet twice a month in a support group but the focus is very much on the individual. Each person meets weekly with a coach, who checks blood pressure and cholesterol levels and offers one-on-one counseling and support. Clients also keep daily food journals to track their eating habits.
Part of the process involves educating people about food so they can make healthier choices. Weight No Longer offers weekly seminars every Tuesday night on a variety of topics including how to read food labels, emotional eating, and the importance of exercise. Weight No Longer is also on the cutting edge of the dietary industry because it focuses on insulin and the role it plays in weight gain and, conversely, weight loss.
"We're considered a wellness center," said Tony Buglione. "We offer a lot to our clients. We make sure they're eating correctly. They're accountable to us and to themselves."
As Buglione notes, anyone can lose weight. It's keeping the weight off that's the real challenge.
"When people start a diet program, it's an emergency. When you lose that weight, it's over," he said. "Whatever program you do, you have to stick to it. You have to change your lifestyle—and that's the hardest part."
Inspired by her example, Willis, 53, said her son, Jason, 27, and his girlfriend also signed up for the program. Jason, who had been working out and lost about 40 pounds through an incentive program offered by his employer, lost 85 pounds after joining the program and recently became a coach at Weight No Longer.
Wendy's husband, Keith, 57, joined the program in July and dropped 55 pounds, even though he works out of state and can only meet with his coach twice a month. He is also now off his cholesterol medication.
"We really don’t realize what weight can do to us," said Wendy. "We were really headed for diabetes."
To date, 26 Weight No Longer clients have lost more than 100 pounds on the program and clients such as Willis have managed to keep that weight off for a year and counting.