Inspired to Lose Weight with Autism: Thanks Justin!

justinIn the nearly 3 decades I’ve been in private practice, I’ve worked with some truly inspirational and exceptional individuals and their families. My nutrition practice includes people of all ages, who have a variety of medical and nutritional issues. I feel blessed to work with motivated people … and enjoy learning from my patients (I believe as much as they learn from me). Quite often, a patient touches my heart and inspires me. I want to introduce you to one such young man… his name is Justin.

Justin is a remarkable 22 year old man who happens to have autism. When I first met Justin, I was in awe of his goal to be “more fit and healthy”. Justin had become significantly overweight, and decided that he wanted to learn how to take better care of himself, prepare some of his own meals and exercise. Justin attends a Young Adult Program where he takes classes (including math and English), learns job skills and home safety strategies. He recently started a paying job once a week, in addition to this wonderful day program. Although Justin and I worked together and came up with a “do-able healthy-plan”, Justin is the driving force behind our action plan, which is why he has been so successful.

Justin’s tips for healthy living:

Always prepare and eat breakfast

Justin wakes up early to prepare breakfast. He measures his cereal, or cuts up veggies for his omelet. Since he has a bit of difficulty reading small print, we decided to use clearly marked measuring utensils for dry products and “labeled” measuring cups for other foods. Justin says “use what works best for you, even if it’s a little different”. Great advice Justin.

Pre-plan your snacks

When Justin was learning job training skills, he was assigned to selling snacks from a snack cart. This proved to be a bit too tempting for Justin, as many of the snacks were high in sugar and calories. After his rotation was completed, he requested a different type of job. Justin says, “don’t put yourself in a tough situation. Do what’s best for you.”

Keep moving

Justin is a huge sports fan! He loves to watch baseball and football on TV. He now watches his games while walking on the treadmill. Justin walks on the treadmill between 40-60 minutes everyday, while watching TV. Instead of eating in front of the TV, Justin now walks. Isn’t that a great idea?

Justin plays hockey and also takes batting practice! He says “if you want to do something, just try it. If you don’t like it, try something else”. We all need to follow Justin’s advice.

Keep a food record

Justin uses an app to record all of his food. We discuss his food journal during every visit. By keeping a food record, Justin is able to track his food intake, and evaluate where he might be able to improve his nutrition plan.


Justin has lost over 25 lbs and is currently at his healthy weight. He continues to “usually” choose healthy meals and snacks, exercise regularly and drink plenty of water. If you are looking for inspiration – on every level – think about Justin. He is a remarkable young man who makes everyone around him feel special. Thank you Justin! Please share your thoughts and comments about someone who inspires you to be healthier.

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