Center for Weight and Wellness
Lifespan Weight Loss Services

Carl Rodrigues

After Nearly 100-Pound Weight Loss, He’s On Top of the World

Carl Rodrigues had struggled with his weight for years. Since his high school football days, the pounds accumulated year after year. “I was heavy for a long time. This didn’t happen overnight,” he acknowledges.

Rodrigues knew he needed to do something, but it took beating some other health challenges to make him re-evaluate his life and find the motivation to tackle his overweight.

His physical condition was holding him back from participating in Boy Scout activities with his sons, he says. “I was begging off on doing things just because of my weight.”

The Cumberland man, whose wife Gisele is a hygienist at Lifespan’s Samuels Sinclair Dental Center, contacted the Center for Weight and Wellness at The Miriam Hospital, which friends and family had recommended.

Carl Rodrigues before weight loss

Carl Rodrigues Before His Weight Loss

Carl Rodrigues after weight loss version 1

Carl Rodrigues After His Weight Loss

After an orientation and medical, lifestyle, and exercise evaluation, Rodrigues began following the modified fast plan just after Presidents Day in February 2020.

Modified fasting (eating meal replacement supplements – OPTIFAST shakes, bars, and soups – and one well-balanced daily meal) lays the foundation for patients to see results quickly.

“After the first few days, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” he says.

The staff is “really, really supportive,” from the person at the front desk who takes your supplement orders to check-ins with physician assistant Wendy Fennelly, PA-C, and registered dietitian Nicole Tella, MS, RD.

“They’re always so positive,” Rodrigues says. “There’s never any scolding, never any shaming or anything like that.” They don’t speak of “cheating on a diet,” but of “deviating from the program.”

Within a month after he began his weight loss journey, the COVID-19 lockdown brought in-person visits and support groups to a halt. The Center for Weight and Wellness pivoted to providing services in ways that would protect patients and staff from exposure while still being effective.

Check-ins transitioned from in-person to telehealth, and support meetings moved to Zoom.

The Support Is Key

When the initial COVID quarantine began, he says it triggered the mindset of being hunkered down in a snowstorm. “What are we going to cook?” was his first thought, before realizing, “Whoops, I can’t do that now.”

Overall, Rodrigues says he thinks the shutdown “actually helped me focus a little bit more. I know other people struggled.”

The phone check-ins and virtual support sessions work well, he says.

“The weekly Zoom meetings led by psychologist Maria Buckley are great, just seeing people who are in the same boat as you,” the soft-spoken man comments. “That’s comforting, knowing they’re going through the same things, and sharing experiences. It is nice seeing everyone pushing through and meeting their goals.”

The support of Gisele and his sons, Jonathan and Alex, has been invaluable as well. The whole family eats the same balanced meals that either he or Gisele prepares. “My sons keep me honest. They tease me: ‘Oh, Dad, can you have that?’”

Rodrigues has advanced to Meal Plan One – so now he has food options for breakfast and dinner, and usually the OPTIFAST soup for lunch. “A meal is 12 ounces of vegetables and, because of my size, they let me go up to six ounces of protein, so that’s a full plate of food,” Rodrigues says.

“Another thing I learned from the program — I’m more conscious of what I eat now. I read labels. I’m seeing what the correct serving size is, how much sugar or salt is in there,” he says. “Now, I’m more conscious of ‘Am I hungry, or am I bored?’”

Carl Rodrigues climbs with scout troop

Carl Conquers His Mountain

“My goal was to hike Mount Monadnock with Jonathan and his Scout troop," says Carl Rodrigues. “My son was teasing me the whole way that he was going to beat me to the top of the mountain. 'I’ll see you at the top,' I told him."

When Carl got near the top of the mountain he heard Jonathan’s voice, and thought his son was on his way back down.

His son replied, "No, Dad, I’m waiting for you. I want to get to the top of the mountain with you."

"It's Good to Have Goals."

After nine months, Rodrigues achieved a 96-pound loss, with another 11 to go to reach his goal.

Rodrigues' kitchen skills come in handy.

“I like to cook, but now I’m cooking more healthy, and it’s a challenge to me to find recipes that I can use. So that’s been fun too. They have plenty of recipes that they give you, and you can look online,” he says.

Another target he had set was a physical challenge.

“When I started the program, my goal was to hike Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire in September” with Jonathan and his Scout troop. “I never went on the hike with them until this year,” Rodrigues says.

“My son was teasing me the whole way that he was going to beat me to the top of the mountain. I’ll see you at the top,” I told him.

Rodrigues, who regularly walks 3 to 5 miles a day for his exercise on the program, had been training for a month with another dad, getting ready for the hike. They climbed together as the Scouts and others went ahead. 

“We got to a point near the top of the mountain where we were just going to break the tree line,” he recalls. When he heard Jonathan’s voice, he thought he was on his way back down.

“No, Dad, I’m waiting for you. I want to get to the top of the mountain with you.” Remembering the moment, he tears up. When they reached the summit together, everyone – even strangers – cheered.

Rodrigues is amazed how much his stamina has improved. “My energy is back. I feel so much younger,” he says.

“Whatever I do, it’s so much easier” without the burden of the 90-plus pounds he has shed. “My knees don’t hurt. My hips don’t hurt.”

It has given him encouragement to reach a little higher.

“Looking down the road, I want to hike Mount Washington this summer,” with the Scouts and other dads, he says with determination. “It’s good to have goals.”