Nutrition Made Simple Podcast Episode 9: The Journey To Losing 70+ Pounds with Jason Dhaveloose

Today, Nicole Aucoin and Jason Dhaveloose aka Moose, share his journey of losing over 70 pounds. He’s a captain for the Pompano Beach Fire Department, which is a pretty physically demanding job. A few years ago, he was over 330 pounds and decided enough was enough, hired a coach to create a plan and help him become the healthiest version of himself.

During this podcast, Moose talks about three things that have helped him the most on his journey. Check out his before and after pictures and hear more stories like his by clicking the show notes’ link.

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Episode Transcript:

Nicole Aucoin (00:04):
Welcome back to the Nutrition Made Simple podcast. At Healthy Steps Nutrition, we believe something as fundamental as nutrition, shouldn’t be complicated. Which is why we focus on a simple habit-based approach when working with clients. I’m your host, Nicole Aucoin, registered dietician and founder of Healthy Steps Nutrition, CrossFit HSN and HSN Mentoring. I’m also the author of the Healthy Kids Cookbook: 100% ‘Kid-Approved’ Recipes For The Whole Family. In this brand new podcast, we will be teaching you how to take one step at a time to become the healthiest version of yourself. Today, we are sharing the story of one of my nutrition clients, Moose. He’s the captain of the fire department in Pompano Beach, which is a pretty physically demanding job. A few years ago, he was over 330 pounds and decided enough was enough. We share his journey and ongoing journey of losing over 70 pounds over the past couple of years.

Nicole Aucoin (01:10):
During this podcast, Moose discusses three things that really have helped him the most on his journey to losing weight. All of these three things were and are vital to his ongoing success to become the healthiest version of himself. I hope you are inspired by his story. I know I am. We will get to this episode just after this message. Our mission is to empower over 4,000 people in the month of January to ditch the all-or-nothing mindset and take one step at a time to become the healthiest version of themselves by listening to this podcast. Do you know someone who’s looking to lose weight? We would love for you to share this podcast with them. You never know who could use some words of encouragement. Take a screenshot, post it on social, and tag Healthy Steps Nutrition so your friends can find this awesome free help. Don’t forget to subscribe so that you can listen to every episode. Enjoy hearing Moose’s story on losing 70 plus pounds. Moose, welcome to the Nutrition Made Simple podcast.

Jason Dhaveloose (02:23):
Thanks for having me.

Nicole Aucoin (02:25):
I’m excited to share your journey. And man, it’s been a long one.

Jason Dhaveloose (02:29):
Been quite a bit of a journey for me.

Nicole Aucoin (02:33):
You struggled with weight. You just said, your entire life you’ve tried a few different things that maybe gave instant gratification or you saw some really good results quick, but then kind of went back to old habits and regained the weight that you are worked really hard to lose, right?

Jason Dhaveloose (02:49):
Yes.

Nicole Aucoin (02:50):
What were some of the things that you tried in the past?

Jason Dhaveloose (02:53):
I’ve Pretty much every diet you could say. And my whole big issue during the process of my weight loss was I didn’t have the longevity to keep on continue doing it. I would do something, I would go all in on it and have success. But then, three weeks in, six months in, three months, whatever it was, I would see myself trending in the opposite direction and not be able to recover from it. It was a continuous thing that no matter what diet I did, what program I did, it just would end up into a failure.

Nicole Aucoin (03:30):
And now we are on the other side of this and you’ve lost, we were just calculating the numbers, a total of 70 plus pounds over the course of three years. And it really has been more of a lifestyle change. You’re actually one of the few nutrition clients that I have personally and you inspire me, and a lot of other people to really make an effort to make a lifestyle change.

Jason Dhaveloose (03:56):
Well, I appreciate that. Just style of coming in here and speaking with you, and I realized that getting healthy isn’t always about a diet, it’s about changing your lifestyle and nutrition. That’s helped me even when we have our times where I get off the wagon for a brief moment. But getting back to that nutrition, eating the proper way that we’ve had our plan together, it’s kept me. I feel amazing. I feel different. It’s not like, “Oh, a three week diet.” And then you mess up, you gain all that weight back, you feel you’re going back and you’re suffering. I don’t feel like I’m suffering when I’m eating the proper way that you and I have talked and spoke, and set up our plan. I’m having high octane fuel going and I mean, when you’re working out, it’s better. When you’re eating, your gut feels better. Everything feels better.

Nicole Aucoin (04:49):
And you don’t really feel deprived because you’re eating a lot of food.

Jason Dhaveloose (04:53):
I never feel deprived anymore. I realized you could eat more, if you’re eating better things. You can eat three peppers and it doesn’t equal what a half bag of Doritos would be or something like that.

Nicole Aucoin (05:06):
And you probably feels more satisfied eating the peppers, giving you all those vitamins, minerals, fiber. I love that. Having the accountability of a coach definitely helps you stay on track, and I think on both sides. So, you come in here and you see amazing results over the course of a month and you’re like, “Now I see that success that motivates me to continue.” Right?

Jason Dhaveloose (05:28):
Yes.

Nicole Aucoin (05:29):
And then on the other side, “Hey, life happened. There are some bumps in the road, progress is never a straight line. All right, now I’m motivated to get back on track.”

Jason Dhaveloose (05:38):
Absolutely. And this year, there’s been bumps in the road for everybody, but my wife got in to the nutrition a little bit more too, as I was losing the weight. That was definitely a help having her. Eating right again and us doing it together. And then obviously I got COVID and basically had symptoms for three hours, and I think that contributed to having a healthier lifestyle, and then nutrition losing the 70 pounds, because if I was 330 something plus pounds as I was when I started this journey that’s been going on, who would’ve known what direction I would have went with that?

Nicole Aucoin (06:14):
Okay, let’s unpack what you just talked about. So your wife, Erin, came on board with nutrition and I would say the single most important thing to your success and where we’ve seen the most amount of gains was when Erin came on board and started eating healthy too and you guys really doing it together, because now you have a built-in accountability partner.

Jason Dhaveloose (06:35):
Yes we do. One thing that I’ve noticed that’s helped is meal prepping as we talk. Having some cooked grilled chicken tenderloins set up in the refrigerator, we’ll cut vegetables, doing it together, knowing that she’s eating the items that I’m eating, and we have it prepped, we have it in there. Some of the stuff she wasn’t into and she realized she didn’t really eat as many vegetables until she met me, or fish, items like that. And then, the way I cook it, she likes it. So I happen to be a pretty decent cook. So, she enjoys it and we enjoy it together, and she feels amazing. She set her goals and she’s starting to hit her goals a month earlier than planned. So, it’s been working out.

Nicole Aucoin (07:16):
That’s amazing. And it’s great for you guys to celebrate together. The wins and really having that healthy lifestyle together allows you guys to set yourself up for long-term success. Now let’s unpack the other thing that you brought up, COVID. So, you are a firefighter?

Jason Dhaveloose (07:33):
Yes.

Nicole Aucoin (07:33):
You work for the fire department, you got COVID and you were home for quite some time, but you and I had a couple of conversations over the past month virtually. And you said, “Hey. I don’t know if I would have had the same exact result, if I would have been 70 pounds heavier.” I mean, you were able to recover pretty quick, although you couldn’t go back to the fire department as quick, you were able to recover pretty quick.

Jason Dhaveloose (07:58):
Which I was begging to go back. Basically, I wouldn’t have known I had it, if it wasn’t for my wife. I had a little bit of backaches, which 38 years old, everybody has backaches. But we were actually getting ready to watch a football game and she saw me grab a blanket and put it on, and she went and touched me and said, “You feel a little warm.” So we went, took a test. By the time we even got back from tests, my fever was pretty much gone and I never felt symptoms after that.

Jason Dhaveloose (08:25):
So who would have known what direction I would have went? We’ve seen what’s happened to a lot of people. I was pretty confident that I’ve always been able to beat items and usually I’m one of those guys that get a high fever and then it’s over. And my wife never got it. Her body must have been firing. My kids never got it. We were basically, we went into this, if one of us gets it, we’re both going to get it type of deal, but she never got it. Unless she has the antibodies for it. So, it was basically in our house for three hours, who would have known if I had it prior to that or whatnot, but we pretty much beat it together.

Nicole Aucoin (08:59):
Awesome. And you really ate pretty healthy throughout that entire time that you were kind of stuck at home. You were stuck in a room for a little bit so you weren’t able to exercise. You changed your diet, but you also started moving more at the same time. What would you say was harder? The adding the exercise piece or the nutrition piece?

Jason Dhaveloose (09:19):
For me, nutrition’s been the hardest part. I’ve always been athletic. I’ve always done things. I’ve always been able to do the physical stuff, but what I didn’t see this whole journey was, I was getting to an area where I was going to have a train wreck on it. I always considered myself a healthy fat guy. There’s no such thing as that. There’s an athletic fat guy, but there’s no such thing as a healthy… People could prove me wrong, but there was just only a matter of time that I was going to be able to keep on doing what I was doing.

Jason Dhaveloose (09:51):
And luckily enough, I had friends that I work with that said, “Hey, man. You’re trending in a bad way. Let’s get you healthy.” And that’s when I came and saw you. I have my ups and downs, you helped me get back to the ups on it, but nutrition’s been the hardest part for me. I have gotten lazy where I don’t get out and go do this exercise like I did when I was younger. But nutrition to me was the hardest part. Going out and running, now that it’s easier to do again, it makes me want to do it again. Do a little bit more.

Nicole Aucoin (10:25):
I think for most people they would say the same thing. The nutrition part takes so much planning, so much effort, and you get that instant gratification when you go out for a run. You automatically feel better because those endorphins are releasing. You feel better when you get done with that run. And you don’t necessarily get that same thing by eating vegetables, right?

Jason Dhaveloose (10:43):
Yeah.

Nicole Aucoin (10:44):
It’s constantly fueling your body with proper foods, and it really takes some intentionality.

Jason Dhaveloose (10:49):
Yes. And fueling yourself with more balanced foods make you feel like you have the fuel to improve. Sometimes just eating the way I do now, I don’t want to leave the gym. It’s not that I enjoy it now, it’s not a hassle, it doesn’t feel like it’s a job. It feels like I have to go in there in order to earn what I’m going to eat throughout the day. It comes like an addiction on there.

Nicole Aucoin (11:18):
We want to foster a positive relationship with food and not say, “Okay, I just have to earn everything that I eat.” But you have been able to add exercise in a consistent manner for a year or plus now. Not just running, but also weight training, and you do a lot of that when you’re out at the fire station, which is nice. I want to pick apart the fire station a little bit, not pick apart, but my husband was a firefighter for quite some time, and I’ve had some meals at the fire station and there’s a lot of time you sit at that table.

Jason Dhaveloose (11:50):
Yes.

Nicole Aucoin (11:51):
So it could be really easy to overeat when you’ve got food on a table and you’re just sitting in front of it.

Jason Dhaveloose (11:57):
Absolutely.

Nicole Aucoin (11:58):
What are some things that you’ve done to kind of stay on track when you’re at the fire station?

Jason Dhaveloose (12:03):
Luckily enough, at my particular station, we eat fairly healthy. In the past, before I was in this situation that I am now, you basically would chug a lot of water. I would always have a bottle of water before I would go eat, and eat what you’re going to eat. The proportion part is the hardest at the fire station, because everybody puts in $20 or more and sometimes you feel like, “I got to get my money’s worth.” That’s the first intention. And then it’s like, even if we’re under budget or whatnot, you’re still going to overeat. Everybody overeats no matter what.

Jason Dhaveloose (12:38):
So, basically what I had to do is manage my plate to how you do where it’s 50% of vegetables, a quarter starch, quarter protein. Sometimes depending on what the starch was out there, I just eliminated that all together and would have more vegetables. So what I would do is eat my plate and then get up, put it in the dishwasher and drink water. It’s hard, but I’m in a situation where I got kind of all eyes on me. So it makes it a little easier when I’m at the station because the fat jokes are going to come out if I don’t do the right thing.

Nicole Aucoin (13:12):
Well, I guess you have accountability partners there at the fire station too.

Jason Dhaveloose (13:15):
Oh, absolutely. I got five of them every shift.

Nicole Aucoin (13:18):
Well, I think that’s a really good trick. So you make your plate, and after you’re done, you take that plate to the sink and then it’s not in front of you anymore. And then you probably do go back and sit down at the table, because there’s a lot of time that you’re sitting at that table.

Jason Dhaveloose (13:32):
Yes. If you don’t get a call, you’re going to sit there. You’re probably going to watch Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune or whatever the shows are that people like to watch. But a lot of times it’s a social hour. You could be there for a quick dinner, quick lunch, or you can be there for an hour, an hour and a half, depending on if there’s calls or not. Some days you’re busy, that’s the only time you see each other so you talk a lot, and you would sit there. And then because I have that bad [inaudible 00:13:58] sitting there on the tray and there’s people that’ll sit there, I was one of them, that keep on picking, picking and picking, and picking. And next thing you know, you’re bloated, your stomach’s there. You just probably over eight, 700 calories that you didn’t need to have beforehand.

Nicole Aucoin (14:13):
I think that happens all too often because we’re so used to eating really fast. And you work for Pompano Beach, which is a quite busy fire station compared to many others. So, you guys probably do eat a little bit faster, knowing that you’re likely going to have a call at some point during that meal. Yeah. So then, okay, you’re away from the food, but when you eat really quickly, you tend to overeat because your brain’s not caught up to your stomach. But having that tip, where you can take that plate, put it in the sink and get it away from you so that you don’t just mindlessly grab another portion when you’re sitting and chatting does help.

Jason Dhaveloose (14:47):
Yes, because that’s kind of how I’ve there for almost 17 years now. So, when I brought the way I ate there, home with me. And when I’m with family and stuff, sometimes they’ll look at you like, “Oh, my God. He’s an animal.” Because you get a steak or something fresh, you eat probably faster than you should. So, I’ve kind of brought that to my house now, especially at home when I’m with my wife, I try to just make enough for two meals for her and I, because it eliminates that process of, “Oh, there’s leftovers. I don’t want to throw that out, let me just eat it up.” And then you just added that extra food that you didn’t have to. So, I had to develop a way when I went home, because I would eat so fast, to find out a way, “Okay. Let me eat it, get rid of my plate, drink some water and give it a second or two to metabolize to make me feel full.”

Nicole Aucoin (15:43):
Yeah, you have to just slow down. So give your brain some time to catch up to your belly. So I think that’s a really good tip. Other thing you could do is not have the pans of food on the table, so that you don’t just mindlessly grab the food, right?

Jason Dhaveloose (15:56):
But that’s not going to happen at the fire station. Yeah.

Nicole Aucoin (15:58):
That doesn’t always happen at the fire station, you’re right. Well, you cook a lot of the meals at the fire station and you are involved with some of the cooking, and you are picking healthier options to cook which helps as well, right?

Jason Dhaveloose (16:09):
Sometimes, yeah.

Nicole Aucoin (16:11):
I know Jason used to used to do that, but he definitely has come home with some very good hardy recipes for sure.

Jason Dhaveloose (16:16):
Yes.

Nicole Aucoin (16:18):
Awesome. Well, those are some really great tips. What would you say is the top two things that have helped you be successful? And it’s not just quick gains, right? You can do a nutrition challenge or you can do HCG, which you’ve done in the past, lose a bunch of weight, but then likely you’re going to regain it. What are some things that you’ve done to consistently lose weight? So at this point, losing over 70 pounds.

Jason Dhaveloose (16:45):
Number one thing is with my wife getting on board, that’s a hundred percent helped me. Besides her getting involved, the best thing for me was meal prep. Having the situations, having everything processed, everything in the fridge, ready, where you can just put it in the microwave, the oven or whatnot. Also, coming in here, speaking with you, when I’ve had my ups and downs, trying to figure out the first few months that we were together was what makes me feel better on eating. Once I realized and I was able to get my brain to say, “Hey, you’re not dieting anymore. You’re eating good food. You’re eating the way you should. You’re eating things that you’ve liked. You don’t have to not eat breakfast because you’re going to eat a heavier meal for dinner, because now you’re making yourself hungrier.” Which was one of my issues that I had was, I would not eat breakfast because I was going to eat a bigger dinner instead of just making the meals smaller by prepping and eating throughout the day, eating things you like.

Jason Dhaveloose (17:41):
If I wanted a cup of rice, then I eat a cup of rice. You just balance it better with your vegetables, your protein. And then when you look at MyFitnessPal at the end of the day, to see where you’re at and your percentages is, I might need a protein shake or something like that. So, having this stuff available for me, coming in here, seeing my numbers on the scale and then having the food prepped and everything like that, has been great for me to keep on going and wanting to do well.

Nicole Aucoin (18:09):
No, those three things. So like planning, you have to have a plan.

Jason Dhaveloose (18:12):
You got to have a plan.

Nicole Aucoin (18:13):
You have to have a plan, because otherwise after a long day, it’s so easy to go through a drive through or just get takeout. It happens with everybody, right?

Jason Dhaveloose (18:20):
Yes.

Nicole Aucoin (18:21):
So having a plan is so important. Support system is most of the time overlooked. And if the people that you spend the most time with are not supportive or not on the same track as you, it is so much tougher to stay on track because you’re doing this and you feel like you’re on an Island. But if you have that support system, you’re really setting yourself up for success because you have a built-in accountability partner.

Jason Dhaveloose (18:45):
Yes. Absolutely.

Nicole Aucoin (18:46):
And then going a step further with accountability, having a coach to help guide you, to get you back on track definitely will help you make sure that when life happens and you fall off, you get back on much faster and instead of it letting one bad weekend turn into a bad week, turn into a bad month, six months later you’re like, “Okay. Now, all of my clothes don’t fit and I need to go get new clothes.” You’ve actually had the opposite direction. You sent me a picture last time we talked and you said, “Nicole, look at this picture.” And we’ll actually post it below in the show notes for this. “Look at this picture of me wearing the shirt, and now I can wrap it around me almost twice.”

Jason Dhaveloose (19:24):
Yes. And that was a feel good moment because when I was sick with the COVID and I couldn’t do anything, we stayed at our house for three weeks, but we went through the closet. And a lot of my dress clothes and all this other stuff, because we’ve got a couple of weddings to go to next year and everything like that. And when I got pretty small, when I did the HCG, which it worked, but it didn’t last long. I didn’t do the maintenance and all that other stuff. But I have to get all new dress clothes. When I was skinnier or smaller, I have to get that suit retailored. I have to do a lot of different things.

Jason Dhaveloose (20:01):
And I threw out or gave away a lot of clothes because there’s no recovery from it. I’m not going in that direction ever again. It just was a feel good moment, and like you were saying, I sent you that picture, I sent the picture a couple of times. I sent the picture to Fred and next thing you know, everybody in the fire station seen it. So I thought that was funny, but yeah, it was a really good feel moment and it makes you feel good and motivated to keep on going, and see what else you could do to see how much more clothes you can grow out of.

Nicole Aucoin (20:32):
Grow out of the opposite way. I love that.

Jason Dhaveloose (20:33):
Yeah, the opposite way.

Nicole Aucoin (20:34):
Fred was just talking this morning. He was doing a CrossFit class with Jason and he said, “I saw that picture of Moose.” It’s gotten passed around and everyone is so proud of all the hard work that you’ve done. What’s one goal for you over the next six months? What one goal for you?

Jason Dhaveloose (20:52):
I would say, I wanted to keep on going. I have a number and I’d like to keep on track a little bit better. We’ve been accountable, but there’s been times where holidays come and all this. But I’d like to get under 250 pounds, which I’m right at the cost pound there. I have not been there in a long time, but just keep on going and keep on trending downward like we have been.

Nicole Aucoin (21:22):
Consistency is the biggest thing and I think that’s a great goal for you.

Jason Dhaveloose (21:25):
Consistency, yeah. I was trying to track that, but everybody that knows me my brain doesn’t always want to go to [inaudible 00:21:29].

Nicole Aucoin (21:29):
You’re good. You’re good. Well, Moose, thanks for coming on to be a guest on the podcast. Your story will inspire so many people because I think there are so many people out there that have a significant amount of weight that they have to lose, and it seems really overwhelming. I mean, think about 70 pounds ago, you thinking, “Okay, I need to lose 70 pounds.”

Jason Dhaveloose (21:51):
And I still have more to go.

Nicole Aucoin (21:52):
But that idea of losing a big number can feel super overwhelming and paralyzing for a lot of people, so they just don’t try. And instead taking one step at a time, trying to ditch that all-or-nothing mentality and really setting yourself up for success with a plan, the support system and a coach to help guide you, will help you set yourself up for success.

Jason Dhaveloose (22:15):
Yes. One thing that I realized with everything, you have to set yourself for long-term success, not short-term. Short-term was the main reason for a lot of my failures when it came to it. And I’ve always had good success. It was for like three weeks and then it would go. I’d never set myself up for the long-term. We’ve been in this for the long-term and I’d like to be under 200 pounds down the road. I could be there in a year. But doing this with good nutrition instead of, I don’t even call it dieting anymore, I just call it eating well and doing what I’m supposed to do for my body, I could see me getting there very easily. Just slowly, but surely and keep the weight off.

Nicole Aucoin (22:57):
Well, I love it. Moose, congratulations. Your hard work is paying off and I’m excited to continue to watch you and help you on your journey to losing weight and becoming the healthiest version of yourself.

Jason Dhaveloose (23:07):
Thank you.

Nicole Aucoin (23:11):
You can ask anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight about their journey. Their journey to keeping the weight off needs to be just as intentional as the journey to losing it. I can remember Moose at one point telling me, “Nicole, I think I hit a plateau.” Maybe not in that exact voice, but he said, “I think I hit a plateau.” And I said, “You didn’t hit a plateau. There is a missing link somewhere.” It really wasn’t until we got his wife on board that his results started skyrocketing. And he continues to see those results despite stress, holidays, COVID, life events and so many other things, because he has that built-in accountability.

Nicole Aucoin (23:57):
I remember that after the first month that his wife got on board, and he lost the most amount of weight that he had ever lost in a month, and I looked at him and I said, “As soon as you leave here, you need to call your wife and say thank you because her support is more important than you will ever know.” The cool thing is she’s having her own journey right now, which is amazing and I’m so excited to watch them continue to become the healthiest versions of themselves. Not only for them, but their two little boys, who are super cute.

Nicole Aucoin (24:25):
Having support of your spouses vital to your success. I can tell you from personal experience. My husband and I truly enjoy working out together. His eating habits have drastically changed since we’ve been together. He used to go to Bru’s Room or other bars and get some wings and different food, and now he eats that and says, “I don’t feel well.” But he didn’t even realize how he felt when he was eating that all the time. He didn’t understand how awesome your body is really designed to feel because he never felt that way. He wasn’t used to eating healthy. He used to go to the gym with having a giant coffee loaded with sugar and creamer. And slowly we started with him cutting down the amount of sugar and creamer and starting adding in breakfast. Now he won’t even work out without having breakfast. But again, he wasn’t really sure how his body was designed to feel and slowly making those changes and me being on board, and him being receptive, helped him on his journey.

Nicole Aucoin (25:27):
And really the opposite goes too, when we work out together or when we’re coming back from a trip and we want to work out, one of us wants to work out and it pushes the other one to work out too. Jason does most of the cooking in our house and he knows that we all feel better when we eat healthy. He’s intentional about having balanced meals. And he has some amazing recipes that aren’t healthy, which he rarely makes because he knows we don’t feel good after we eat that. Whoever’s doing the cooking has to be on board. So if you are listening to this and you’re looking to lose weight, but your spouse or significant others is the one that does the cooking, they have to be on board. It’s so much easier for you to be successful when your spouse is on board.

Nicole Aucoin (26:14):
Next week, we are talking about some of the most common mistakes we see with nutrition clients. Are you loving this podcast? Before we go, I want to talk about the podcast for one second. Our mission is to empower 4,000 people in January to ditch the all-or-nothing mindset and take control of their health by listening to this podcast and taking one step at a time. Do you know someone who’s looking to lose weight? We would love for you to share this podcast with them, take a screenshot and post it on social media. Tag your friends. Tag Healthy Steps Nutrition so that your friends can find our awesome free help. Also, please don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review. Thanks, until next week.