Stories about: Exercise

Two lessons I learned on my weight loss journey

Bobby, before and after OWL.

I was a patient in Boston Children’s Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) program in the early 2000s. At the time, I was not aware of how much of a positive impact the program would have on me later on down the road.

When I was in the program as a young teen, I weighed about 200 pounds. After leaving the program, I went on to play football in high school and continued to gain weight. By the time I gave up football after my freshmen year of college due to injury, I weighed in at 270 pounds.

That was when I committed to my weight loss journey and began using all of the information I learned in the OWL program. I found personal success using the foundation the OWL program gave me. Today I weigh 185 pounds.

I was recently given an opportunity to visit with the OWL patients who participate in the OWL on the Water (OOTW) rowing program and talk to them about my weight loss journey. This program gives kids an opportunity to build friendships with other kids fighting the same battle and learn the importance of exercise. There are two key points any kid on a weight loss journey needs to understand.

The weight loss journey is a lifelong journey.

Kids need to realize the weight loss journey will not end once they reach their target weight. There seems to be a common trend with people losing weight and then putting it back on. What kids need to understand is that once a target weight is reached, it is even harder to maintain that weight. Just because a goal has been reached, it doesn’t mean they can stop exercising and stop watching what they eat. It is so important to make this a lifestyle and not just a phase. By making it a lifestyle, it will be possible to keep the weight off rather than regaining it.

Have a goal other than a number on the scale.

A lot of focus is put on attaining a goal weight. This can lead to a lot of frustration, because there will be ups and downs. I found it incredibly helpful to have a goal other than a number on the scale. It doesn’t matter what this goal is, whether it be a certain outfit, a certain activity or even a certain physical feature. These goals off the scale will help maintain the motivation to keep pushing down the weight loss road.

The OWL program and OOTW are helping kids realize a healthy lifestyle is possible for them. They can do anything they set their minds to as long as they fully commit to it. I look forward to the next opportunity to speak with these kids because I want them to know they aren’t alone and they can have the same weight loss success I have had.

OOTW participants enjoy a guided workout.
OOTW participants enjoy a guided workout.

This video tells the story of OWL on the Water, a partnership between the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center Boston Children’s Hospital’s Optimal Weight for Life Program and Community Rowing, Inc. (CRI). Many of these athletes develop strong supportive peer relationships and learn important life skills. They become invested in their own health, start asking important questions and begin to look at their future with new possibilities. Many more have moved on to athletic programs in their local communities such as swim team, field hockey, basketball, cheerleading, dance, Cross Fit and more.

About the blogger: Bobby Bilodeau is a 25-year-old young professional who is enjoying the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. Bobby grew up playing sports and now likes to golf and ski in his free time. He also enjoys hiking, running and spending time with his family and friends. Bobby has a very strong desire to travel the world and explore all the incredible places it has to offer.    

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For patients in the OWL Program, joining a rowing team makes all the difference

The OWL team rowing at Agganis Arena

When it comes to achieving a healthy weight, nutrition is only one part of the process. Adding exercise to the mix helps build heart health and strength, and—perhaps of equal importance—it also helps build self-confidence.

While regular exercise is paramount, it’s not always easy for a teenager to join their high school’s competitive teams to stay in shape. “It’s hard to tell a kid to join something like soccer if they’ve never done it before, and their peers have been doing it since they were toddlers,” says Sarah Picard, MA, Med, physical activity specialist at Boston Children’s Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) Program.

This year with the help of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center, Picard created a solution to that problem, and established OWL on the Water—a joint program with Community Rowing Inc. that allows OWL patients to form an exclusive rowing team, thereby providing habitual exercise and promoting teamwork.

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Recess: yet another important task of school (and what this means)

Lots of times, when I ask my patients what they think is the best part of school, they say, “Recess.”

They may be on to something.

This week the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) came out with a policy statement titled “The Crucial Role of Recess in School.” Recess, they say, is necessary for the health and development of children and should never be withheld for punishment or for academic reasons.

Here’s why recess is so crucial:

  • When kids get breaks, they are more able to learn.
  • Through play at recess, kids learn communication skills, such as negotiation, cooperation, sharing and problem-solving.
  • Play also gives kids opportunities to practice coping skills, such as perseverance and self-control.
  • Kids need exercise. The AAP recommends an hour a day, and recess helps with that.
  • Kids need to play, “for the sheer joy of it.” Mental health is important too.
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Children's celebrates Hubway launch

Children's staff were on hand for the Hubway launch in downtown Boston

In an effort to promote physical activity and reduce traffic in and around its campus, Children’s Hospital Boston is a proud co-sponsor of a new city-wide bike sharing program that kicked off Thursday at Boston’s City Hall. Dubbed the “New Balance Hubway,” the program provides 600 rental bicycles, which can be picked up and dropped off at any of the 61 solar-powered stations set up throughout the city.

People can register with the Hubway program online for discounted rates, or simply go to any Hubway station and borrow a bike. Once you’re done with your ride, you return the bike to the nearest Hubway station and your credit card or rider’s account will be automatically charged for the amount of time used. It’s like Zipcar, but with pedals.

Hubway program will start with 600 bikes and 61 rental stations, with more to follow

Modeled after proven successful bike share programs in cities like Paris, Montreal, Washington D.C. and Minneapolis, Children’s is hopeful that hospital employees, parents or visitors may pick up a bicycle near the hospital at one of the six local Hubway station and ride to an offsite meeting, run an errand downtown, or get some exercise on the Esplanade. Of course cyclists should always wear a helmet, and should you find yourself in the area but without the proper protection Children’s lobby Safety Store is now selling adult bike helmets for $10.

While on the topics of bikes, here are a few quick bike safety points for parents of young riders:

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