Open Accessibility Menu

Treating Himself to a New Lifestyle | Jay’s Story

Treating Himself to a New Lifestyle | Jay’s Story

In September of 2014, Jay Ekren tipped the scales at his highest weight: 475 pounds.

Growing up, Jay never struggled with weight. He stayed active and trim by playing hockey. After getting married, starting a family and building his career, Jay started to gain. In 1997, he weighed in at 350, but really packed on the weight in the last five years as a result of stress and an unhealthy lifestyle.

Knowing he had to make a change, Jay started cutting calories and lost 30 pounds on his own. In February 2015, he saw his primary doctor for a different reason.

“He asked if I was interested in Altru’s Weight Management Program,” Jay explains. “They were able to see me right after my bloodwork that day. I explained that I was not interested in surgery, but instead was looking for support and guidance.”

And that’s exactly what Jay got when he began regularly meeting with John Crist, registered dietitian. With John’s guidance, Jay has lost another 190 pounds, bringing his total weight loss to over 200 pounds.

“He isn’t condescending in the least. I’m not only losing weight but eating right,” explains Jay. “I just click with him. I tell people if they don’t like seeing a dietitian, they just haven’t found the right one.”

“I track everything on my phone. John monitors it and sends me encouragement and suggestions through MyChart,” says Jay. “It’s been the best thing. When I started, I couldn’t walk without being out of breath and never ate a vegetable. Now, I’m exercising 65 minutes daily and eating healthier than I ever have in my life.”

Dark Secrets

Looking back, Jay remembers a much darker time in his life. At his heaviest, Jay could no longer mow his own lawn. He avoided going to events, because he was too large to fit in the seat, and he made excuses to get dropped off at the door. At friends’ houses, he even worried about breaking their furniture. Restaurant booths were too narrow, standard seat belts were too short, and stores needed more benches.

“I couldn’t test-drive cars without a seat belt extender,” Jay recalls. “I remember a time when I would regularly pick up pizza and breadsticks for my family. I would order an extra serving of breadsticks, just so I could eat it on the way home.”

“You feel like people are looking at you,” he continues. “Now that I’m over 200 pounds lighter, I’m enjoying doing all the things I couldn’t do before. I love going to local sporting events. I’ll go to one of my favorite restaurants, Mexican Village, sit in a booth, and order a small bean burrito. I look up calories online before I go.”

Working in Workouts

Jay fits in a minimum of an hour per day of exercise, seven days a week, starting with 45 minutes early in the morning. He sprinkles in walking and bike riding in small spurts throughout the day.

However, Jay’s first time at the gym lasted five minutes. “I would purposely go late at night when no one was there,” explains Jay. “I wondered if the treadmill could support me. Now, I’m looking at doing a 5K this summer.”

Jay has received oodles of positive feedback from his family and friends, co-workers and neighbors. “The best, though, was when a random person at the gym told me how great I’m doing.”

before and after weightloss

Treating Himself and Planning For the Future

“Throughout the whole process, I have never felt deprived,” says Jay. “Eating is much more satisfying.” Jay allows himself one indulgence per week—a Panera bagel. “I just work it into the plan.”

With John’s coaching, Jay plans to continue losing 15 pounds per month until he reaches his goal weight of 200. “Once I get there, we’ll talk maintenance. The work isn’t done. I need to spend the rest of my life keeping this new lifestyle. I had forgotten how good a person can feel. I’m able to do stuff with my family again rather than distancing myself. I’m back in my life.”

And, once he reaches his goal weight, Jay plans to spoil himself a bit. “Shopping for clothes is so much fun now. There’s this pair of what I call ‘sexy dad jeans’ at the mall that I have my eye on,” smirks Jay. “I’m waiting to buy a pair when I reach my goal.”

Altru’s Weight Management Program offers solutions for weight loss, weight management and lifestyle change at any level. Learn more at