My name is Gerry Schindler, and this story is how I became one of the biggest losers. My story begins with me being an overweight veteran who got a job as a housekeeper at the VA Medical Center in Iowa City, Iowa. I had several people tell me in the time I worked at the VA that I needed to lose weight. This included my primary doctor, Lynda Hemann, a staff doctor at the VA, whom I highly respected.
During my time as a janitor I made contact with a dietician, Lori Schreier, who is with the MOVE program. I saw her on my rounds quite regularly, and she suggested to me that I get involved with her program to help me lose weight. At first I laughed it off, but little by little I began to take her seriously. So in late January 2017 I enrolled after hitting a peak of 279 pounds. That wouldn’t be bad if I played on the line of a pro-football team, but since I don’t I thought it was time to do something.
I started the classes and every Thursday I was encouraged to be faithful in attendance by Lori who has been my guide and confident during this process. In the passing of time I met the rest of the team: Kirsta Kazembi, Lori Enloe, Dr. Betsworth, Dr. White and the secretary, Ryan Hammel. Each person had their part in the team, and they were all of great encouragement to me along the way.
I learned so many truths through this process: how to divide a plate in quarters to evaluate the meal, how to balance my diet, and how not to eat junk food. Most of all I learned that even though I could work as a fat man, I could work even better a more in-shape man.
It was suggested to me that I involve myself in some form of regular exercise. I joined the YMCA in my city and met more nice people who encouraged me in my weight-loss journey. Starting slow I walked the treadmill, I lifted weights, and worked out with the grey-haired generation.
Soon I became bored, so I went into the swimming pool and did some exercises in water. Then I started swimming. I started slow, doing just a couple laps of the pool; that was all I could handle. One of the lifeguards, Jennie Waters encouraged me to do more. The directors, Sarah and Zac also encouraged me. Marissa, Louise, Julia and a host of others said, “You can do it!”
This reminded me of the Bible verse that says, ” I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). I asked God to help me continue on this journey. And I asked God go help me to exceed expectations, and God gave me the will and strength to continue. I kept pushing the envelope and other reminders encouraged me. My grandfather liked to share words of wisdom, and one of his sayings was “When you think you have done your best, aim higher.”
So this 72 year old man set his goal of losing 100 pounds in a year. By the grace of God; the goal was reached. Over the next three months I have been at the local Y for 2 and a half hour workouts. I have been swimming 36 laps of the pool, roughly one mile each day, doing water aerobics, and if I have any energy left in me I lift weights for a short time. Martin Luther once wrote, “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing.” What I could not do on my own, God pushed me to the goal.
This journey has been challenging, but many previous situations encouraged me. I served two years in Vietnam as an infantry medic with the 1st and 22nd 4th division and as a medic with the 283rd dust off unit. I received a purple heart in action with the medivac unit north of Dak To. One thing remains the same. We are put on this planet to serve, and I served the USA in a time when serving was not all that appreciated, and now my aim is to serve God.
In conclusion, much was accomplished. I am much healthier. Many came along the side of me when I was weak. So my challenge to anyone who reads this is YOU CAN DO IT! You must keep your heart and mind on the target and go for it. Hopefully I have challenged someone to make their body healthier. It can be done. My grandpa told me, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way”.
To all who have had a role in this victory, many thanks! – Gerry Schindler
The Y has many special events throughout the year - like Healthy Kids Day, the Y TrivYa Night and many others.