By Hilary Kraus
Photography (left) by Lindsay Gifford
Dolores Blusewicz’ son-in-law is checking up on her. He’s not making sure she’s home safely, or if she needs anything from the store. Jason Pampucha, Dolores’ only son-in-law, is snooping around in her fridge.
And much to his delight, there is no container of pork and beans or sugary barbecue sauces or, dare it even cross her mind, leftover pizza.
Those were the foods of choice of the old Dolores, the one who could barely walk and lost her zest for living as she allowed her 5-foot-7-inch frame to top out at 300 pounds. “There is no way to candy coat it,” Jason said, remembering back to spring of 2012. “She was a hot mess. And so we said, ‘That’s it.’ We had an intervention.” The candid talk to Mom included Jason’s wife and Dolores’ only child, Tracy Blusewicz, a Hilton Head obstetrics and gynecology doctor. “We told her, ‘You have to do this, you have to give it a shot.’” Jason said.
After years of on-again, off-again dieting, Dolores agreed to try the Metabolic Research Center weight-loss program. Her daily diet continues to consists of low-fat foods, lean meats, vegetables and limited fruits. She also drinks a protein drink twice a day, but doesn’t participate in the any of the center’s other programs.
“I didn’t want to go. All I see is people, they lose the weight, they look fantastic and six months later, they’re fatter than they’ve ever been,” Dolores said candidly. “I protested all the way down the line.” To Dolores’ credit, she lost 120 pounds and is holding steady between 180 and 185 pounds, a weight she’s maintained since the beginning of this year. It took her one year and five months to lose the weight. The 76-year-old grandmother of three is walking now, with the aid of a walker, without getting out of breath. Her mobility also has been greatly improved by two knee replacements, and she works with a personal trainer twice a week. The coaxing, encouraging and ribbing (but not spare ribs!) from Jason remains a constant. Dolores, hardly a shrinking violet, can keep up with her quick-witted son-in-law, and there is no shortage of comical bantering between the two former New Jerseyans.
When Dolores says, “At 300 pounds, I had my own car, I was zipping around, I was fine.” Jason is quick to point out, “But she took out an Escalade.” When Dolores talks about her late husband, Frank Blusewicz, who died in 2005, she says “I was married for 50 years, last October. I made it, but unfortunately he didn’t. And I didn’t even get a half party from Jason.” When Dolores tells about dropping from a 3X pants size to large pants and medium tops, and that she doesn’t have to shop in the plus-size department anymore, Jason chimes in with, “Omar the tent maker had to lay people off.”
All kidding aside, Dolores’ transformation also influenced her daughter, Tracy, to lose 80 pounds. “Tracy said, ‘My mom isn’t going to weigh less than me!’” Dolores said. Tracy also uses her mother as inspiration when older overweight patients claim they can’t lose weight. Elinor Pennell, a patient from Sun City, paid attention to the doctor’s words. “When I went to Dr. Blusewicz, she told me I needed to lose weight and she told me about her mother,” Elinor said. “She told me she lost weight through the Metabolic Research Center. I thought, if she can do it, maybe I could do it.” Since starting the program, Elinor has lost 68 pounds, for a total weight loss of 100 pounds over the last year. “Dr. Blusewicz was so encouraging about it,” she added.
Dolores’ encouragement also came for her daughter and said if it weren’t for Jason pushing her, she wouldn’t have lost the weight. “I give him 100 percent of the credit,” she said. But that doesn’t stop her from having what she refers to as, her “little sneaks,” every now and then. There was the time she went to San Miguel’s at Shelter Cove and got busted when someone told Jason they saw her there. “She had a big order of nachos,” Jason said. “And a margarita,” Dolores added. “I pay cash so Jason doesn’t see it on my credit card.”
Background: Moved from Edison, N.J., to Sun City Hilton Head in 2004. Relocated to Hilton Head in 2006. Daughter Tracy Blusewicz, son-in-law Jason Pampucha, grandchildren Cole, 11, twins Stella and Cami, 10.
What do you do for fun? I love going to SHARE (Senior Hospitality Activities Recreation Education center) to play mahjong. I also love socializing. When I wasn’t walking, I’d sit here all day.”
Anything you miss eating? “At the rate I’m going, nothing. I went to a place (today) and I didn’t even have pizza for lunch. That’s unbelievable. I have never gone to that restaurant where I have not had a slice of pizza.”
What would you say to a person who needs to lose weight? “(Getting healthy) gives you a better outlook on life. I’ve also lowered my blood pressure. I don’t take blood pressure pills anymore.” (She was on three blood pressure pills daily.)