Childhood friends become lifelong partners and discovered a new journey to wellness

From meeting in first grade to reconnecting decades later, Michael and Elena have not only traveled on a journey back to each other but have also discovered a new journey to health and wellness with the Mayo Clinic Diet.

“Ten years ago, I planned a grade school reunion with my childhood friends who attended St. Brigid’s School in Westbury, New York,” Elena said. “I’ve stayed close with many of them over the years and always dreamed of bringing of us all together some day. To my surprise, Michael showed up that night. The rest — they say — is history.”

“I wasn’t planning on going to the reunion, but something pushed me to go at the last minute. I’m sure happy I did! Little did I know that I would find my soulmate there — 35 years later.” Michael and Elena have been inseparable ever since, living a life of love and laughter until one day — five years ago — their lives changed forever. Elena explained how one night, Michael had a devastating health episode that required him to be put on life support and an induced coma. “It was the scariest 40 days of my life. The doctors didn’t think he would make it, but I kept the faith.” The months and years that followed were challenging for both Michael and Elena. “I worked in construction most of my life,” Michael said. “Now, I’m not able to do the most basic things around the house, let alone exercise. I gained over 100 pounds, which has set me back even further.” Michael explained how Elena does it all — and then some. “She is my Earth angel. I wouldn’t be here without her,” he said. “Oh, and did I mention she’s an amazing cook?” he said laughingly. She works so hard to cook me healthy meals, but the weight just won’t come off. It’s very frustrating for both of us.”

With Elena’s daughter’s wedding one year away, she began researching weight loss plans and discovered the Mayo Clinic Diet. “I read the wonderful success stories of the many people whose lives were transformed by the Mayo Clinic Diet,” she said. “I was mostly impressed with how they loved the recipes and the sustainability of the program.” After discussing the program with Michael, they decided to sign up. With one year to go until the wedding, they are both excited and motivated to get started.

They dove right into the Lose It! phase and were shocked with the results. With a starting weight of almost 350 pounds, Michael was motivated to reach his goal weight of 250 pounds. “I lost 18 pounds in the first two weeks,” he said excitedly. “I couldn’t believe my eyes when I stepped on the scale.” Even more exciting for Michael were his off-scale victories, which he states are true life changers. “My energy level is amazing. I would sleep 10-to-14 hours a day, due to my illness. Since being on the plan, I have energy that I haven’t felt in years. It’s motivating me to push myself to get out more.” Additionally, Michael was excited to share that his sugar cravings are now gone. “I’ll admit it, I’m a sugar junkie. But since I’ve been eating fresh fruit every day, my sweet tooth is satisfied. That is something I never thought could happen.”

When it comes to preparing the recipes, Elena suggested for Michael to follow the Simple meal plan. “I work from home, so seeing how easy the recipes are to prepare was a godsend for me. We are enjoying testing out new recipes and discovering our favorites. I love to cook, so it’s fun for me to discover the unique ways the Mayo Clinic Diet nutritionists can make simple recipes taste great while being healthy, too!” Where weight loss for Elena is concerned, she said it was never about her — but she has lost weight by simply eating the meals she is cooking for Michael. “Since I’m doing all of the cooking, I’m following the plan along with Michael — and seeing results. My hope was to lose a few pounds before the wedding. So far, I’m on way to reaching my ‘Mother of the Bride’ goals.” She said she is also seeing off-scale victories — one of which is an overall improvement in her everyday lifestyle. “I started having major foot issues over two years ago and had to wear a walking boot for over one year. After consulting with several doctors and having numerous imaging tests, no one could figure out where all the pain was coming from. They said it was mostly inflammation.” Since she’s been following the plan, Elena said her foot pain is almost gone. “It’s amazing! Apparently, I was eating foods that were causing inflammation, which contributed to my pain. Now that I’m eating more anti-inflammatory foods, I’m getting around much better and am able to start doing my walks again. No one ever thought that it was my diet that was causing all the pain.”

When asked to list which Mayo Clinic Diet benefits they value most, Michael and Elena were excited to share their favorites. They love:

  • The ‘Meal Swap’ feature.
  • The grocery list that makes it quick and easy to go food shopping.
  • Habit optimizer, which has proven helpful for building lifelong habits.

“Reconnecting all of the years ago reset the clock for us,” Elena said lovingly. “We started a new chapter in our lives and never looked back. We are a true ‘Leather and Lace’ story, but that’s what makes us work.” Now, she said they are on a new journey to help Michael improve his health and lifestyle and feel — and look — great at the wedding. “Everything I do, I do for Elena,” he said. “I was at a point where I didn’t care about how I looked. Now, it means everything, and I owe it all to her — and the Mayo Clinic Diet — for helping me feel like me again.”

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