A Milford man lost more than 60 pounds. The American Heart Association honored him.

Stan Osoweicki on the pier at Walnut Beach, near his home in Milford, Conn. May 26, 2021.

Stan Osoweicki on the pier at Walnut Beach, near his home in Milford, Conn. May 26, 2021.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

MILFORD — A few simple lifestyle changes made a big change in Stan Osowiecki’s life.

Osowiecki, a Milford resident, has lost more than 60 pounds since December and is one of three recipients of the American Heart Association’s Eastern States 2021 Lifestyle Change Award.

The award, part of the annual New Haven Heart Walk, is given to individuals who have made positive changes to improve the quality of their health.

“Originally, we were going to pick one winner, but we received three amazing stories, and the committee decided to award them all,” said Mary Ann Burns, American Heart Association Connecticut communications director.

“They were all such inspiring stores, so Stan was one of three to receive the award,” she said.

Stan Osoweicki on the pier at Walnut Beach, near his home in Milford, Conn. May 26, 2021.

Stan Osoweicki on the pier at Walnut Beach, near his home in Milford, Conn. May 26, 2021.

Ned Gerard / Hearst Connecticut Media

Osowiecki said he submitted a nomination for the award never expecting to be selected. The company he works for, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, sponsors the award and he knew the company was looking for some of its employees to participate.

“I was surprised because I didn’t expect to be picked out of everybody that was submitted,” he said.

Motivation

His weight loss journey began in December when his doctor told him he was at risk for diabetes and other conditions because of his weight and lab results. At the time he weighed 325 pounds.

Stan Osowiecki before his weight loss journey.

Stan Osowiecki before his weight loss journey.

Contributed photo

Although the primary motivation has been to live a longer and healthier life, Osowiecki said his 13-year-old daughter also is an inspiration.

“I want to be able to see all the important times in her life as she grows up, and so all along the way, I’ve been telling her when I’ve hit certain milestones,” he said. “As I’ve gone through this journey, she’s been a great support to me and reminds me every day why I’m doing this.”

He said whenever he hits a milestone and lets his daughter know, he receives a thumbs up and a hug.

“She supports me, and she has said many times how she thinks it’s awesome what I’m doing,” said Osowiecki.

Another place Osowiecki has found support to keep going is in a creativity group he belongs to.

“All along the way, as I’ve been updating them, I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from them as well,” he said. “They’ve been really great and boosting my ego as well. When we have our weekly meeting, they say how great I’m looking and things like that.”

The journey began after Osowiecki’s father died of cancer in October 2020. A few weeks later, while looking through some family photos, he felt a lump in his chest, he said. That was why he was in the doctor’s office in the first place.

“Immediately, my thoughts went to cancer, which was one of the factors of my dad passing away,” Osowiecki said. “I got concerned and went to see the doctor. Luckily it turned out to be a benign cyst. However, my doctor told me my levels were high for my (hemoglobin) A1C and other numbers and that I needed to focus on losing some weight.”

Stan Osowiecki before his weight loss journey.

Stan Osowiecki before his weight loss journey.

Contributed photo

Osowiecki said he took the warning to heart.

He cut back on the amount of sugar and carbohydrates that he ate, and he made a deliberate effort to move around and exercise more.

“I bought a rowing machine, I bought a bicycle, and I walk down at the beach,” said Osowiecki. “Slowly but surely, over the past six months, I’ve lost 60 pounds, and I feel a lot better, and I have a lot more energy.”

At his most recent checkup, his A1C level, an indicator of Type 2 diabetes, had dropped by half and was in the normal range, he said. Other blood test results also showed improvement.

Early on in his weight loss journey, Osowiecki said he had a hard time keeping to his diet and exercise plan.

“I love chocolate, and I’ve cut it out except for maybe one or two Hershey’s Kisses a day,” he said. “At times, it was difficult, but I’ve, in essence, had to keep my eye on the prize to know that I’m working towards a healthier me, and the habits that I’m building now will help me to stay healthier for much longer.”

Lifestyle changes

He said once he started to get some momentum and made exercising and diet part of his daily life, it became easier. But he’ll still have a few extra carbs every once in a while.

“For the most part, I try to be very cautious in what I’m putting into my body now,” said Osowiecki. “I also make sure that while I may not go after 10,000 steps every day, that I get a good amount of steps in, or a bike ride or some rowing in to get my body going and energy level up.”

Osowiecki said he has regimented his eating habits during the day at work and when he’s at home to keep consistent with his work-life balance.

“I try to stay very disciplined with eating breakfast when I first get up in the morning. Having a small snack mid-morning so I don’t have a huge hunger, and have a small sensible lunch,” he said. In the afternoons he will typically have a little juice to keep his energy up, then dinner, with smaller portions than he used to eat.

The lifestyle changes have him feeling better and sleeping better at night, he said.

Burns said a big part of what the American Heart Association does is talk about prevention and the importance of making small positive changes that can lead to big things like 60-pound weight loss.

“Stan knew he had a family history, knew he needed to make a change and made such a great amazing change. His story is incredible, that he took it upon himself to say, ‘I need to be healthier,’” she said. “I think one of the reasons why (the selection committee) picked Stan’s story was because he did everything he knew he should be doing to live a healthier life.”

For those who want to start their own weight loss journey but are unsure, Osowiecki said positive change in a person’s diet or exercise regimen will make a difference over time.

“Even when you hit a plateau, keep doing what you’re doing. It will keep being positive down the line,” he said.