Jason Schneider credits his parents and grandparents with passing along many fine qualities to their children and grandchildren, including compassion, dedication, and intelligence. “They also passed along the propensity to be overweight and/or obese,” Schneider said.
“The family would gather at all the High Holy Days and after prayers, we would eat — and eat and eat and eat. We all would leave with leftovers.” Schneider, now 39, admits, “All my life, my fridge was my friend.”
At one point in his 20s, Schneider dropped 52 pounds with diet and exercise. He gained back the weight, and kept it on until he went into the weight loss and diet counseling business. Today Schneider weighs 150 and is the owner of a local Weight Loss Couture. (See www.weightlosscouture.com)
Schneider made time recently to talk about his battle with weight and how his job now keeps him fit and satisfied professionally at the same time.
You grew up in West County, in a family of big eaters. How did you deal with that?
I started gaining weight when I was about 8. Then in my early 20s, I started walking, which developed into running, and I went to the gym. I also ate sparingly.
What happened next?
I lost weight, but when I quit exercising and started eating more, the weight came back. By 2003, I had tried many of the weight-loss programs. Then a friend of mine went to a seminar about the Pounds and Inches Away program, and we decided to go into the weight-loss business together.
In March of 2011, you opened a Pounds and Inches Away branch in Fairview, Ill. How did it go?
At first, I was a silent partner, which was good because I weighed about 240 or 245 pounds at the time. Then I decided if I was going to be a part owner of a weight-loss business, I needed to look the part.
What route did you go?
I followed the protocol for the Pounds and Inches Away program. Some say it’s a fad, but the program has been around since the 1970s. In 40 days, I lost 39 pounds. I waited two months and did a second round, and lost 21 additional pounds.
Dropping the excess pounds sparked your interest in nutrition and diet. Why?
I started looking at the science of weight loss. Suddenly it all clicked, and I lost more weight, got down to 150. I was able to get off two cholesterol medications and two hypertension medications.
So was this journey about health or looks or just wanting to be different from the family?
I’ll let the doctor tell you what being overweight or obese does to your body. I’m an expert about what it does to my mind. You want to fit into the seat on a plane and not panic if the person in front of you reclines. Being seated at a restaurant booth with a nonadjustable table, being able to find clothes that fit, being able to lift things or run to the car and not be winded — it’s these small things that make me grateful I am staying within a normal BMI.
You dissolved your partnership with your friend in mid-2011, rebranded the business and opened in Chesterfield in July. Talk a bit about the business.
We don’t have a one-size-fits-all program at Weight Loss Couture, but we do believe that everyone’s most valuable assets are health and well-being. We look at the different options available, and work with individuals to determine how to help them achieve a goal weight and then maintain that.
Talk about your own eating habits.
Obviously, I have made a lot of changes. I am not a cook, and there is no food in my house unless you count condiments, but now I make strategic choices at mealtimes. I may have ice cream or pizza now and then, but with intention, and not all the time. There are tradeoffs.
What is it like to help people do what you did?
There is such a good feeling to see someone succeed. Plus, being in this business will keep me on the straight and narrow. Battling obesity for 30 years was no picnic. When I look back and see how much of my life revolved around what I was going to eat, when I was going to eat it and how much I was going to eat — it’s sad.