Self-care, mindset change pay off for busy man
“I decided — then committed — to focus on self-care.”
One profound family event sent Jeff Shaver down a path of weight gain and declining health. Years later, another turned him around again.
Now Jeff is a new man — down 90 pounds and 17 inches in his waist, thanks to a program for men offered through MNPS.
Jeff had always struggled with his weight, but he really began gaining pounds in 2009. That’s when his wife, Ashley — an MNPS counselor — gave birth to a daughter with a chronic health condition.
“Our focus went to her, and our self-care went to the wayside,” Jeff said.
The demands of Jeff’s busy job as a senior project manager and water resources engineer also took a toll. His weight was 180 when he married in 2004. By 2015, he weighed in at 315 pounds.
He started working with a weight loss clinic on his diet and managed to drop more than 50 pounds. They also encouraged more activity, but the walking program he took up triggered excruciating pain from a herniated disk in his back.
“It messed me up,” Jeff says. “I had to stop.”
He dropped out of the program.
Then came the second profound family event — the one got him back on track.
In 2020, Jeff’s father was diagnosed with a blood cancer and needed a stem cell transplant. Jeff was a match and was ready and willing to help. But the doctors declined. They said his obesity, along with borderline high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar, put him at too high a risk.
A healthier donor was located.
“That hit home,” Jeff says. “Because I chose not to take care of myself, I was not eligible to help my father.”
He’d also grown tired of struggling to fit in airplane seats for business trips and watching from the sidelines while his wife and daughter (who’s doing fine today) gleefully enjoyed theme park rides he was too big to get on.
Jeff knew he needed a change. Last year, when MNPS offered employees and their family members* the 90-day Men’s Health Challenge, he signed up.
The physician-led program focuses on improving metabolic health using evidence-based nutrition and a focus on self-care. It also includes strong support from other men in the program.
Jeff started the program in November 2021. He dropped all meat and dairy in the initial phase and began seeing results quickly.
“I had added energy and just felt better overall,” he says.
Weight loss soon followed. Now he is fully able to enjoy life with his wife and daughter — and his father, who also is doing well.
Jeff says a change in mindset was key for him.
“You’ve got to make a decision to take care of yourself,” he says. “Because if you don’t, you can’t take care of others.”
* The 90-Day Men’s Health Challenge is open to MNPS employees or the spouse/domestic partner of an employee who is covered under the MNPS Certificated Employee Health Plan (also called the teachers' health plan).
Senior project manager and water resources engineer