WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – At the beginning of 2020, Dr. Scott Lucas, VP of Aviation Manufacturing and Institutional Effectiveness at WSU Tech, underwent his sixth ankle surgery.

He returned to work for about a week before everything went into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. At 375 pounds, Lucas moved from his bed to a chair every day, without much more movement. He admits food delivery services made bad eating habits more convenient.

May 2020, prior to weight loss (Courtesy Scott Lucas)

“June started, and I wanted to get into some summer clothes, and none of my clothes fit,” Lucas said.

The depression set in for Lucas. The husband and father had tried in the past to lose weight and had some success, but the pounds lost typically came back along with some extra.

Lucas estimates it was the end of July or the first of August when he determined something had to change. He sought help from the Ascension Via Christi Weight Management program, and the “inspirational drill sergeant,” Leann Moore.

With a military background and straight-shooter style with clients, Moore estimated Lucas would need a year and a half to two years to meet his weight loss goals. She asked him for a dedicated year of his time.

“The blessing with Scott was, he was already motivated,” Moore said.

Lucas began the dietary portion of the program with three protein shakes a day, two ready-made entrees and fruits and vegetables from the store. Lucas found he most enjoyed water exercise in one of the Greater Wichita YMCA’s pools before his weight loss journey. His favorite? Aqua Zumba.

“It just needs to be something that works for you,” Lucas said.

Jumping in feet first, Lucas started with three classes per week. As the pounds came off, he added a class, eventually working up to seven water classes per week. Nowadays, he prides himself on being the “hardest-working person in the pool.”

“We live in a society that doesn’t support health and well-being. So you have to wrap yourself and surround yourself with those supportive tools. Because it’s easy to be unhealthy. It takes effort to be healthy,” Moore said.

Courtesy Scott Lucas

Smaller victories came along the way. For example, it used to be difficult for Lucas to walk up a single flight of stairs. Nine months later, he can run up multiple flights of stairs. At one point, he had to bag up all of his clothing to take to Goodwill because nothing fit.

Nine months later, Lucas was down a shocking 175 pounds. He owes a lot of his success to family support on his journey, namely from his wife and children.

“It would be difficult to do this on an island,” Lucas said.

Courtesy Scott Lucas

Moore puts a pronounced emphasis on dietary habits for weight loss, telling clients that most weight loss comes from the kitchen. She reports 80% of clients report actually saving money during the program because they were not tracking food costs beforehand, and small convenience items can really add up.

Lucas is now in phase II of the Ascension Via Christi Weight Management program, where the focus is maintaining healthy lifestyle habits since hitting his goal prematurely.

“Scott, maybe on the outside made it look like it was easy. But no one saw the work behind the scenes that he was doing,” Moore said.

Now, Lucas meets with Moore monthly. Resources for the emotional side of weight loss are provided, as clients often have adjustments in creating their new life while mourning their old one. Increased attention to their size can also add pressure.

“There’s really, truly nothing unique about me and my journey other than the will and the passion to want to do it,” Lucas said.

While Lucas lost his 175 pounds through exercise and healthy eating, Moore reports bariatric surgery has been “explosive” over the past year, possibly due to people having more time at home to focus on their health.