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.