PUNXSUTAWNEY ‚ÄĒ When Dr. Frank Bizousky finally settled on a decision and a game plan to lose weight, he didn‚Äôt do it just to shed a few pounds.
He was doing it as a game plan for the rest of his life.
Since March 2011, after seriously dedicating himself to the task, Bizousky, a 1978 PAHS graduate and long-time physician at Punxsutawney Area Hospital, has lost 110 pounds, having reached his weight goal in seven months.
To put it another way, Bizousky ‚ÄĒ also a star Chucks football player who attended the University of Virginia (UVA) in Charlottesville, Va., on a full football scholarship and earned a biology degree ‚ÄĒ lost 12 inches off his waistline and, had he lost another 10 pounds, would have lost one-third of his former weight.
He said as an athlete, he could lose 20 or 30 pounds, then put it back on fairly easily. But at this stage in his life, that‚Äôs not the case.
‚ÄúThe more I stuck to it, the more I knew 30 pounds wasn‚Äôt going to be enough,‚ÄĚ he said.
Bizousky said he finally made his decision to change his eating habits and lifestyle after a trip to a special NCAA event March 17 ‚ÄĒ his wife Monika‚Äôs birthday ‚ÄĒ in Cleveland, Ohio, last year.
‚ÄúI just got to a point where I just became disgusted, fed up with being that way,‚ÄĚ Bizousky said. ‚ÄúI would see people in situations where they did have health concerns, and I got serious about losing it, and was looking at gastric bypass surgery. I knew it was taking years off my life.‚ÄĚ
The Bizouskys dramatically changed their diet, shying away from red meat and foods high in starches and carbohydrates, instead focusing on items such as fish and vegetables.
In the beginning, their children ‚ÄĒ Erika and Blake ‚ÄĒ weren‚Äôt too keen on their parents‚Äô new dinner menus, so Monika would prepare two dinners: One for her and Frank, the other for Erika and Blake.
But Bizousky noted that now, ‚ÄúI think we‚Äôve been making an impression on the kids. Even with us, for not initially making the kids eat the diet, they are more closely incorporating it.‚ÄĚ
He said it was important to undertake this challenge with help from Monika, as the two could coach and encourage each other along the way.
The Bizouskys implemented a number of different diets into their plan, as well as exercise. For Frank, that meant biking for 30 to 45 minutes a day on the Mahoning Shadow Trail.
‚ÄúEven when I was volunteer coaching for seventh- and eighth-grade football, I had to get in my bike ride,‚ÄĚ he said.
For Bizousky to undertake his weight loss seriously, he had to become ‚Äúobsessed‚ÄĚ with it, he said.
‚ÄúThere would be days that I gained a pound or two, then days I would eat the same, and I‚Äôd go four or five days without loss,‚ÄĚ Bizousky said.
Unlike other dieters, he weighed himself daily, not just a day here or a day there.
‚ÄúI weighed myself every day, because I had become obsessed with it,‚ÄĚ he said, even reaching the point that he took his scale on vacation.
‚ÄúI knew I would be eating a little more, so the biking became two times a day,‚ÄĚ Bizousky said.
Of course, there were days that his plan wasn‚Äôt running the way he wanted it to, but he remained committed.
‚ÄúI would get discouraged but not enough to stop,‚ÄĚ Bizousky said. ‚ÄúIt was more of a motivational tool. Through what I‚Äôve done and achieved, I got to know myself better.‚ÄĚ
At his former weight, Bizousky found it challenging to offer advice to his patients ‚ÄĒ who could be good friends, at times ‚ÄĒ about healthy changes when he, at the time, wasn‚Äôt living up to. He also joked that some physicians have a motto: ‚ÄúDo as I say, not as I do.‚ÄĚ
Now that he has lost the weight, Bizousky can advise ‚ÄĒ and know from his own experience ‚ÄĒ that problems such as a bothersome knee or back can be attributed to weight.
After losing the weight, Bizousky said he no longer needs blood pressure medication, he no longer snores, and his cholesterol is much lower.
All in all, he just feels better.
‚ÄúBecause I was large, I can sympathize,‚ÄĚ Bizousky said. ‚ÄúLarge people are discriminated against,‚ÄĚ whether it has to do with clothing or even seating at public events or via public transportation or air travel.
‚ÄúI was a stress eater,‚ÄĚ said Bizousky, who attended St. George‚Äôs University School of Medicine in Grenada, West Indies, and earned his doctor of osteopathy degree from the Southeastern University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine, North Miami Beach, Fla. ‚ÄúAfter years in the ER, I would pull all-nighters with doughnuts, pizza, something I could crunch on.‚ÄĚ
Part of his lifestyle change was realizing that much of eating is centered around an event or a celebration, such as a football game or a party, when the selection of food and beverages may or may not be healthy.
Bizousky said the toughest part of his journey was the first two weeks, ‚Äúand probably the weekends, too, because that was usually the time I would socialize.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThe more weight that I lost, the easier it was to continue,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúWhen I got halfway there, I thought, ‚ÄėI‚Äôm not stopping now.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
Bizousky said his goal is to not only keep the weight off, but to continue his path of healthy living.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not just about dieting; it‚Äôs about diet and exercise,‚ÄĚ he said.
Certainly, there have been other perks aside from the positive effects of Bizousky‚Äôs weight loss.
He said he admits to seeing himself and thinking, ‚Äú‚ÄėIs that me? Should I get a new driver‚Äôs license?‚Äô I think I‚Äôm already rubbing off on patients. They say, ‚ÄėYou‚Äôve inspired me.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
And then there are people who have not been back to Punxsy for some time, come to his office and say, ‚Äú‚ÄėWhere‚Äôs Dr. Bizousky?‚Äô he said. ‚ÄúIt is always, ‚ÄėBoy, you look good.‚Äô
‚ÄúMonika asked me, ‚ÄėDon‚Äôt you get tired of people saying that?‚Äô‚ÄĚ Bizousky said. ‚ÄúAnd I say, ‚ÄėAbsolutely not. People can tell me that every day.‚Äô‚ÄĚ