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JIB Medical’s Lighten Up! program has helped many Local 3, IBEW members achieve the healthy weight they want.

Business Manager Chris Erikson has lost thirty pounds participating in the LightenUp! program and feels much better for it. He had struggled with his weight for a long time, but he became especially concerned when his blood sugar reached full diabetes levels. “That really scared me,” the Business Manager said.

He saw Dr. Alpana Shukla, the weight loss expert and endocrinologist at JIB Med- ical. She prescribed medicines that lower blood sugar, improve heart health and reduce appetite and weight. He continues to follow along with her and the online App and has learned very useful understanding about nutrition and health.

His blood sugar is now much better and the diabetes scare is behind him. He enjoys his new way of eating and feels he is getting closer and closer to making it automatic for him.

“I’m human and, like everyone, staying on track means I have to keep working at it until I get to where it fully becomes my natural way of life, but I am determined to succeed.” For Chris, LightenUp! has been a personal success. “As Business Manager, I am very pleased to see that the LightenUp! program is an easy and very effective program that is helping many of our participants!”

Walter Brooks, Assistant Director of the Electrical Employers Self-Insurance Safety Plan (EESISP) was feeling “crappy” and knew he had to do something about his weight. He had struggled with weight problems his whole life and had once lost 100 pounds, but gained it all back. The heavier he got, the worse he felt and the excess weight limited his activities. Then his blood sugar reached the level of full diabetes. He knew he had to act.

He joined the LightenUp! program at JIB Medical and is now 100 pounds lighter. He accomplished that by learning to make better food choices and increasing his activity level. He feels much better and his blood sugar has returned to completely normal.

Walter feels that he learned much more about nutrition than ever before and thinks he has a better chance to keep the weight off this time.

Kenneth Cohen is a retired “A” Journeyman electrician. He went through a rough time with prediabetes, atrial fibrillation, a mitral valve replacement and high blood pressure.

Then his doctor at JIB Medical, Dr. Paul Wiseman, suggested he sign up for LightenUp! He worked with the LightenUp! Registered Dietitian and with Dr. Alpana Shukla, the Weill Cornell weight control expert who sees patients at JIB Medical once a week as part of the program. She also began Kenneth on two medicines for diabetes that are effective in assisting people to lose weight.

He has since lost 58 pounds and “dropped 10 pant sizes”. His waist is now a trim 35 inches (down from 48 inches). His blood sugar and blood pressure are now completely normal. He feels much better.

Christine Jones is a nurse at JIB Medical. When she joined the JIB Medical staff, she weighed 264 pounds. She was prediabetic, could not move quickly, bending over was a challenge, tying shoelaces was a struggle. When LightenUp! started, she joined, saw Dr. Shukla, learned a healthier diet and began on the same medications as Kenneth. She now weighs 194 pounds – a 70 pound weight loss, so far! She says that for the “first time in decades I can cross my legs!” She dances and feels much better. She is down four dress sizes (20 down to 12) and even a full size smaller shoe.

Donna Jackson is a Child Protective Services Supervisor and is in the Plan as the wife of an “A” Journeywoman electrician. She says she has a very stressful job and is “an emotional eater.” She joined LightenUp! at 224 pounds and is now down 40 pounds to 184 pounds “and counting.” She says she already feels much better, but more than that there are what she calls “non-scale victories,” meaning benefits beyond what shows on a scale when she weighs herself. She says when you look better, you feel better and that gives your confidence level a big boost. She says Dr. Shukla was wonderful (as all her patients agree) and that she learned a great deal that was helpful. She required only one easy-to-take, low-risk medicine to help her make progress.

The LightenUp! weight control program is powered by Intellihealth.

LightenUp! is a unique weight control program, entirely science-based. It was created by Dr. Louis Aronne, an internationally recognized expert on obesity and its treatment and the author of three best-selling books. He is the Sanford Weill Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical School and the founder of its Comprehensive Weight Control Center (CWCC). Dr. Shukla is Director of Research at CWCC and an endocrinologist at Weill Cornell Medical. She is highly experienced in medical treatment of resistant weight problems, including modern medications and surgery where needed. Every patient praises her highly for her compassion and expertise.

How It Works

LightenUp! employs online educational information, videos and food logging. Two unique features are that it also includes regular meetings by telephone with a Registered Dietitian and consultation with Dr. Shukla when needed (now called “LightenUp Plus+”).

The Registered Dietitian monitors progress and communicates with the user regularly and advises as needed on how to make continuing progress. Dr. Shukla sees those patients who need more, such as medications and, in some cases, surgery.

The studies Drs. Aronne and Shukla have conducted and published show that their science-based program, including using medications when needed, is three to four times more effective for patients to lose enough weight to greatly reduce their health risks and look and feel better!

How You Can Succeed

Excess weight is often misunderstood.

Being overweight is not your fault! What few recognize is that excess weight is a biological problem caused by the inherited way our fat cells, nervous system, hormones and brain work together without our knowing it to retain every extra calorie we take in. The fat cells make us hungry and crave ever more calories, especially when they detect their fat content reducing. That is why it is so easy to gain and so hard to lose.

People should not feel ashamed or guilty about excess weight, though our society unfortunately often practices fat-shaming. Being overweight is only a medical problem, not a reflection on the quality of the person.

Society has also created a toxic food environment in which we are all exposed to aggressive marketing of processed and other terrible foods. We can learn to ignore the profit-driven efforts of the giant food industry and find our own way to healthy, enjoyable meals.

Major Advances in Treatment of Weight Problems

The scientific studies Drs. Aronne and Shukla have done and published show that, for some people, medications are required to overcome the biological drive to increase weight. Unlike older medicines, the modern treatments for weight reduction are much safer and easier to use and more effective. They help counter the fat cell’s efforts to keep you eating.

Drs. Aronne and Shukla published an important paper that showed how high blood pressure (hypertension) and obesity (the medical term for excess weight) are similar in many ways: they are both affected by biology and behavior. We have for decades very rightly treated hypertension with medicines for very long periods (as long as needed), but only recently has science realized that we should do the same for excess weight when needed. Both hypertension and excess weight can cause devastating disease unless treated.

Excess weight, especially the fat hidden away inside (‘visceral fat’) is a major cause or contributor to over 50 diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, liver disease and much else.

You can overcome your biology! It is possible to achieve remarkable results, just like the real-life examples we began with.

The key is to learn to make your new way of life so enjoyable that you can no longer imagine living any other way. Can you do it? Of course you can! You are the absolute ruler of the Empire of You. It takes knowledge, desire, a good strategy and perseverance and sometimes help from others or medications, but at the end of the journey toward health you can achieve any goal you wish that is under your control – especially your lifestyle.

It will happen if you convince yourself inside, deep down where it matters, that you want this for yourself, not because you should or ought to or have to or wish to.

LightenUp! can give you the knowledge, strategies, means and help to reach your goal.

LightenUp! is a scientifically-based program that can help you overcome weight problems, feel better and be healthier.

If interested, you can find an application online at JIB Medical or send an email to

This story originally appeared in the January 2020 issue of The Union World.