By Jill Stein Lipset, M.Ed, NBC-HWC, CFL2
The Power House is proud to partner with The Pipe Trades Family Health & Wellness Centers across the Twin Cities to bring holistic and preventative care to the union members and their families. The following is one success story that captures the spirit of our work together.
Meet Greg Routhe.
Greg is a Pipe Trades Services of Minnesota member who decided that he needed to make a major change in his life. Christmas of 2017 he stepped on the scale and it read 325. “It was at that moment that I told myself, ‘I gotta change,’” he remembers. After that Christmas realization, Greg says he tried getting healthier on his own. He started watching what he ate and becoming more active, but after 3 months he only saw an incremental difference. “I didn’t have any real goals, and didn’t know how to go about changing my habits,” Greg reflects.
The First Steps
On March 1st, 2017, he came into the Pipe Trades Health and Wellness Center in White Bear Lake to pick up an eye prescription. As one of the front desk staff asked him if he needed anything else, he looked around and realized this was his opportunity. He turned to them and said, “I need help losing weight.” As Greg states, “With those five words, everything changed.” The front desk staff helped schedule his first appointment with Dr. Kim Turinske, a primary care physician who specializes in weight management. Upon meeting her, Greg knew his experience was going to be different than any previous doctors visit. As Greg says, “She took time to talk to me. She asked me about myself, and she really listened. Dr. Turinske is smart and one of the best doctors I’ve ever met, but I could tell right away that she also really cares about her patients.”
Dr. Turinske gave Greg guidelines for a weight loss diet, including removing white processed carbs from his house and eating more fruit and vegetables and lean meats. Over a series of months, he cut down on drinking diet soda, learning from the doctor that diet soda actually causes weight gain too. “This didn’t happen overnight, but eventually I got from drinking diet soda every day to about once per month,” Greg explains. Dr. Turinske also suggested he start tracking his daily food intake on the phone app My Fitness Pal, and in a short amount of time Greg finally started seeing real results. As Dr. Turinske says, “Once he got started, Greg was on his way to joining the ‘100 Club,'” referring to patients that have lost 100 pounds or more.
Greg continued to meet with the doctor once per month, doing an InBody body composition test each time to track his results and monitor on his overall health. The InBody test was a game-changer for him, since he could see the breakdown of fat and muscle in his body instead of just a flat number on the scale. From that information, Greg was able to start viewing his weight loss progress with more nuance and use diet and exercise more effectively to reduce body fat and increase lean muscle mass.
A Whole Health Approach
Greg’s next stop at the PTSMN Wellness Center was with Health Coach Jill Stein Lipset, also from The Power House. “Dr. Turinske suggested I meet with her,” he remembers, “so I did, but I thought it would be a one-and-done thing.” It turns out this relationship would become another major component of Greg’s health transformation. Working with Jill helped Greg to set achievable goals and map out the steps he needed to take to accomplish them. Meeting every two or three weeks, they discussed all aspects of Greg’s health, from the food he was eating to how much sleep he was getting. They developed a strong connection, helping to hold Greg accountable to his new lifestyle choices and to continue to push through plateaus and setbacks.
With the Health Coach’s support, Greg tried things that were initially outside his comfort zone, such as eating oatmeal for breakfast, going meatless in his diet one day per week, and increasing how many fruits and vegetables he ate each day. Jill says, “Greg has been a shining example of how an integrative care model can change a life. Greg recognized all the resources that were available to him, and had the insight and motivation to create a support system to help him achieve great outcomes. As practitioners, we had the opportunity to collaborate with each other to give him the most mutifaceted and dynamic care possible. Where else can you get that? It is a really special place.”
Jill points to a few factors that she believes were instrumental to Greg’s success. “Since the day I met him, Greg has had a quiet and steady determination towards his goals. He encountered challenges, but throwing in the towel was never an option. He stayed consistent in his efforts and showed up to every single appointment with a positive attitude and a readiness to examine his life and make the changes necessary to get healthier.”
Exercise was never something Greg expected to enjoy doing, but when Jill proposed that he connect with the fitness coaches from The Power House who staff the Wellness Centers each day, he agreed to give it a try. “Again, this experience was different than anything else I had ever done,” Greg says. “The trainers are good at what they do and are patient with me. They push me and challenge me but make it fun and can take a joke.”
Greg started working with Tim Brown, TPH coach and yoga instructor, for one half hour per week. After a while, he bumped it up to a full hour of training. Then he added a second hour training session per week. Finally, a third hour session with another coach, Jenna Birch, plus the Kettlebells class offered onsite brought his workouts to 4 per week. Jenna states, “Through my time working with Greg, both his attitude and determination has improved along with his overall movement quality. I told Greg that he could walk into any gym at any time, and that he would shine. He would shine because he moves well, he works hard, he’s community-focused and he always leaves with a big smile on face. Greg is definitely on the journey of his life, but I believe he is just getting started. From here on out he can accomplish anything he wants to.”
The trainers have worked with Greg on functional movements that benefit his everyday life, such as pulling, pushing, lifting weights off the ground and overhead, and carrying heavy loads long distances. They have also helped him with his mobility and flexibility, an area that he has struggled with and had previously led to job-related pain. Through his workouts, Greg has seen major progress in how he feels. “Activities that used to be incredibly hard for me, like box step-ups or hollow holds, I can do easily now,” he acknowledges. This newfound strength and flexibility, along with the significant weight loss, has paid off at work as well. Greg reflects, “My job is so much better. I can walk longer, carry more, and pick things up safely. When I’m using a wrench I can use my muscles instead of just throwing my weight into it.” Along with his improved job performance, Greg has reduced his blood pressure medication in half and significantly reduced his needs for reflux medication. “I’ve seen in my family what happens when you don’t take care of yourself. I don’t want that to happen to me,” Greg resolves.
Small Steps, Big Results
Greg’s started with a goal of 25 pounds of weight loss, then 50, then 75. “I took it one day at a time,” he admits, “but tried to keep the big picture in mind.” Greg’s most recent InBody test showed 121 pounds of total weight loss, going from 322.6 pounds to 201.7 pounds in one year’s time. Importantly, his body composition test shows a reduction of 21.8% of his total body fat, starting at a dangerous 43.5% down to an optimal 21.7%. Notably, he accomplished this without extreme interventions, relying on steady and consistent lifestyle interventions in his diet and exercise habits.
As Dr. Turinske explains, “Initially, Greg’s tests showed that he had elevated liver and ferretin numbers due to fatty liver. His recent labwork shows they are both now normal. He was able to cut his blood pressure medication in half. Through his hard work and our guidance, he did as much in those months as someone who does the gastric bypass surgery without having to do surgery! He prevented liver disease, diabetes, helped his blood pressure, and is able to enjoy traveling more. What a role model and stellar example of what our patients can do with a little help from his friends at the clinic. Go Greg!”
Greg shows no signs of slowing down. “I want to keep decreasing my visceral fat levels,” he says, referring to the deep abdominal fat surrounding internal organs that, in excessive amounts, is linked to insulin resistance, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, cancers and chronic inflammation. When he began his health transformation, his visceral fat area was a threatening 272 cm. His most recent InBody test revealed he is at 88 cm, which is below the recommended levels of 100 cm or less.
Greg has kept challenging himself during his workouts, too, and this month completed his first CrossFit workouts at The Power House, including 19.1 of the CrossFit Open. His work ethic throughout his one-on-one sessions with The Power House coaches prepared him to jump right into a group CrossFit class. He has thrived experiencing the fun camaraderie and competition with other members at the gym.
There are other rewards that Greg has reaped. One goal that he and the Health Coach have often discussed was fitting into his uniform jacket from his Navy days. “It’s been many years since I was able to put it on, and it means a lot to wear it again,” he reveals. Another reward Greg has decided on is purchasing a 1970s muscle car once he keeps the weight off for six months. “High school weight, high school car,” he laughs. Lastly, travel is on his mind. Taking trips around the world is a major passion for Greg, and the improvement in his health opens up a lot of new opportunities for adventure. “I’ll be able to sit comfortably in an airplane seat,” he says, “or at least more comfortably.” One trip he is most excited to take is to see his extended family in Denmark. “The last time they saw me was three years ago, and they have no idea I’ve lost all this weight. I wonder if they’ll even recognize me!” he muses.
One thing that is certain is that Greg is loving the benefits of his improved health and he encourages others to seek the same transformation. “My best advice to someone who is ready to start a similar journey as me is to seek out help. The support I have received from the Wellness Centers and The Power House team has made all the difference in helping me to learn the right ways to get healthy and keep me moving forward. They really care and want to see you succeed,” Greg firmly states. “It’s not always easy, but it’s possible. If I can do it, so can you.”
Want to be awesome like Greg? Email us to start your wellness transformation today.