Find out how lifelong sweethearts Alisa and Tom Cutter shed a collective 120 pounds and got fit with the aid of a Withings scale and the Lose It! app. Read on to learn how they helped each other develop healthy habits and found the joy of being fit, together.
Tom Cutter, 51, and Alisa Cutter, 50, have been married for 30 years and are the parents of two grown daughters and grandparents of two lively grandchildren. They also share an employer, Middlebury College in Middlebury, Vermont, where Alisa is the assistant bursar and Tom works in IT. Everyday they eat a healthy lunch together and enjoy a walk around the college’s beautiful campus. But although these days Tom and Alisa prioritize their health and wellness, that wasn’t always the case, and together they’ve both struggled and worked hard to revamp their lifestyle and get where they are today.
In March of 2013, Tom was pre-diabetic, had high cholesterol, and needed a hip replacement. Alisa was a smoker who found it challenging to ride a stationary bike for 15 minutes straight, even at an easy pace. Tom and Alisa lived a sedentary life and ate whatever they pleased without much thought to nutrition. “I was employee of the month at McDonald’s,” Tom jokes, remembering how his old way of eating ballooned him to 235 pounds. Tom’s resolve to lower his blood pressure and cholesterol sans medication inspired Alisa to join him and embark on her own weight loss and fitness journey. These self-described “determined people,” had hit a breaking point, and made up their minds to take on one small habit at a time to effect a lifestyle change before, as Tom put it, “it was too late.”
Read on to learn how this tightly-knit couple kept themselves accountable by using the Lose It! app and a Withings smart scale to lose weight, kick the blood pressure meds, and find a new, happier normal.
Finding Health Together: Interview with Alisa and Tom Cutter
Withings: What kicked off your decision to take control of your health?
Tom Cutter: I had high blood pressure. I was pre-diabetic. I needed to have a hip replacement surgery; I’m a deer hunter and I could barely drag my leg into the car. My doctor gave me a prescription for pills, and I took one. That’s the last one I took. I thought, “This is crazy. Do I want to change my natural blood chemistry?”
Alisa Cutter: It was Tom’s health. I wanted him to get healthy so his surgery would go well.
Do you remember what the first step was?
Tom: The Lose It! app was a big help. I’m very technical… I’m in IT. The app spoke to me. I like the bar code scanning. I was at work, looking on Reddit, and I stumbled upon a thread about how the Lose It! app changed some guy’s life. After that, I gave Alisa the Withings scale for Christmas. And I turned my boss onto the scale. It’s really quite easy to use. I like my gadgets.
Alisa: I had lost weight before with Weight Watchers, and put it back on. Now, we use the Withings scale, and activity trackers. Pairing it with the Lose It! app really works. When I get on the scale, I can tell when I’ve had too many almonds the day before.
How did you get started once you’d made the decision to clean up your health the natural way?
Alisa: When we started, we did not exercise at all. We had a bike upstairs collecting dust. We took small steps doing very little on the bike at first. We did a few sit-ups. We lifted 10-pound weights.
Tom: We started doing some crunches. It was just us. There was no formal gym or trainer.
Can you tell me more about your routine back before you got fit?
Alisa: When we first started, we rode a stationary bike for 15 minutes a day at an easy pace. Through time we increased the intensity and time until we rode 30 minutes a day. We lifted 10-pound weights and started with 10 reps each, then increased to 50 reps per day. The crunches started with 10 and increased to 50. Our planks started with 30 seconds and increased to 2 minutes.
Tom: I couldn’t walk up a hill without huffing and puffing. Sometimes I’d see stars. Now I can tell the difference. And I see it in my clothes and when I look in the mirror.
Alisa: Tom went from a 38/XL to a 32/M in clothes.
Did your commitment to fitness lead to other good results?
Tom: Alisa quit smoking in the middle of it. I ate McDonald’s all the time. I don’t want it anymore. Now, we cook our own food. I have no desire to go back to it.
What do you do for fun?
Alisa: Walking is our hobby. On weekends, we take a two-hour walk in the area around our house. When we’re at work, we walk around campus. We make up our own routes. There is one trail that goes all around Middlebury, and we walk that, too.
What do you feel you’ve given up to achieve your health and weight loss goals?
Tom: Nothing. We eat good, and everything tastes great. Nothing is off limits. You just have to be mindful.
Alisa: We’re not suffering. We eat chocolate, but we don’t eat the whole bar. I’ll still eat sweet potato fries, I just won’t finish them. On holidays we take a little bit of everything, and reconcile with ourselves if the scale goes up the next day, we’re ok with that. It’s moderation.
What can you do now that you couldn’t before?
Alisa: I can walk up a steep hill and not be out of breath. It just feels good to be healthy. Now we walk three to four times a day. It’s about 10 miles every day. When we started walking it was only once a day and about 3 miles a day. My lifetime steps since quantifying are 13,546,418. Tom’s are 6,114,283 .
What motivates you to stick with the new lifestyle?
Alisa: I fought my weight my whole life. I was just tired of being fat and unhealthy, and on blood pressure medicine. What motivates me to keep doing it is that I feel really, really good. I didn’t have a lot of self-confidence because I didn’t feel really good about the way I looked. Using the Lose It! app held me accountable. I had to look at what I put in my mouth. I wanted to look better for myself. Using the scale to see the weight drop was motivating, too. When I ate too much, and the number went up, I would jump off the scale because I didn’t want to record it! I would get so mad at myself when I gained. But then I got back on track.
Tom: I’m going to retire in 5 to 7 years. I felt bad before. Now I feel like I’m 18. I want to keep up with my grandkids.
Not everyone manages a full lifestyle change. What’s your secret?
Alisa: We are pretty determined people. When people had opinion, or told us what we were “doing it wrong,” we just stuck to it. It’s calories in and calories out. This is how we do it now: Habits. We walk now. We track our food now. We weigh every day. We don’t finish the chocolate bar now.
Tom: Get out and walk. It’s so easy; it’s so peaceful. You can hold hands with your wife. Put technology away, you can talk. We talk to each other all the time now.
What would you say to inspire someone who’s at the point at which you started?
Alisa: It seems like a daunting task, but if you’re committed you really can do it. There will be bumps, but don’t let those make you get off the train. Just try again. Get back on the scale. When I picked myself up and got back on the scale, I was even more determined to do it the right way.
Tom: Don’t wait until it’s too late. The sooner you can change your life, the better off you’ll be in the long run.
Many thanks to Tom and Alisa for sharing their story.