Change Your Life:
It CAN Be Done!

July 5, 2016   |     West Now Home

Article & photos by Gary Carlisle, Western International University (West) Class of 2009 graduate.

The content herein is that of the author and does not reflect the position or opinion of Western International University (West). This article originally appeared in the West Alumni Connection newsletter. 

“Changing the direction of your life can seem like a daunting task and sometimes can even be a bit scary,” says West graduate Gary Carlisle. Gary recently not only made a life-changing decision, but also committed to making that decision a reality over the course of the past year. Below, Gary shares his story of how he did it.

I am a 45-year old West alumnus who recently made some significant changes in my life. I had allowed myself to get so out of physical shape that I couldn’t find my way back to a healthy lifestyle. I had tried to lose weight on my own with very little success, and every defeat I suffered chipped away at what little self-confidence I had left. I knew it was time for a change in my life’s direction.

My weight had gotten out of control and I found myself in another rut; one that seemed like I wasn’t going to be able to overcome. I began to think about some of the other times I found myself in a rut, and each time it took a life-changing decision to put me back on the right path. 

Becoming a student at West was one of those decisions. I had gone as far as I could at my job and the only way to advance was to get a degree. West helped me be a successful student so that I could earn my bachelor degree; now I found that I needed the same help and support with regard to my weight loss.

I followed some advice from my wife and made an appointment at a local medical weight loss clinic. Their physicians helped guide me to a healthier life. When I did my initial weigh-in, I was 396 pounds. Needless to say, that was by far the biggest I had ever been. As I sit here now and type this, I am at 215 pounds, following my weight loss goal to lose180 lbs. I hesitate to say that I “finished” the program, because it was not just a diet for me, but rather a change in the way I view food altogether.

Food for me was always a crutch; it was something I turned to regardless of the situation. I ate when I was bored, I ate when I was happy, and I ate when I was unhappy--well, you get the point. The doctors at the clinic helped me to see food for what it really is, just plain fuel. Now that I am more conscious of these simple things, it has helped me stay on track. I have been at my goal weight for six months now and I feel great. I ride my mountain bike 2-3 times a week and typically ride between 15-30 miles when I go out. No way could I have done that before the weight loss.

My educational program at West gave me food for thought, and the weight loss program at the clinic provided me with an education on how to eat healthy and how to have a healthy relationship with food/fuel. Earning a degree as a working adult with a family can be difficult, but thankfully West provided direction and support so that I could complete my education. In the same way, weight loss can also be difficult--but once you have done it, the benefits are wonderful. And having the support of the doctors and staff at the clinic also helped me achieve my weight loss goal. We can all have struggles with many areas of our lives, and selecting partners who can help, like West and the weight loss clinic, has helped build my confidence to feed both my mind and my body. No one knows what the future holds, but being healthy makes everything better.

Gary graduated from West in 2009 with his Bachelor of Science in Business.* He currently works as an Operations Manager with a local trucking company in the Phoenix, AZ area. Gary and his wife have been married for 26 years and have one son who is currently attending college.

* For more information about our programs, including on-time completion rates, the median debt incurred by students who completed their programs and other important information, please visit:

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Gary Carlisle After
Gary Carlisle Before