Patrick Chien began smoking cigarettes in the mid-1980s in an effort to keep up with his overseas colleagues. As a manufacturer of auto parts, he worked in China and Taiwan, where smoking is a staple in social gatherings. Though he did his best to keep his habit minimal, his son Jeremy, who works as a cost analyst in Sunnyvale, offered him constant reminders of the health risks involved with smoking.
Finally, Patrick decided to strike a deal with his son in order to motivate both of them to live healthier lives. He offered to quit smoking if Jeremy, who had struggled with his weight since childhood, lost 75 pounds to reach a target weight of 200 pounds. Jeremy accepted the challenge, and one year later, both Jeremy and Patrick are celebrating their success.
Patrick, who manufactures aluminum wheels in China and sells them in the United States, found Asia’s heavy emphasis on smoking as a social norm hard to resist.
“Every place I go in China or Taiwan, people are smoking,” he said.
In the meetings he and his business partners frequented, it was difficult to turn down the offer of a cigarette. Patrick added, “It’s kind of like ‘here, have a candy.’ ”
Jeremy and Patrick saw each other only a few times a year, but as they incessantly nagged each other about their respective bad habits, Patrick was inspired to introduce the pact.
“It was just the right time,” Patrick said. “Jeremy wanted to lose weight. I wanted to quit smoking, so we struck a deal.”
Though Jeremy grew up in San Diego, where Patrick still lives, he moved to the Bay Area in 1998 to attend UC-Berkeley. After his graduation from Berkeley’s business economics program in 2002, he took a job with Sunnyvale’s Lockheed Martin, where he still works today.
Jeremy, now 26, began his weight loss program after running into an old friend from high school who had lost weight using the Weight Watchers Points program. The program assigns each food a point value depending on calories, fat grams and fiber. Program participants limit themselves to a certain number of points each day to curb their food intake.
Jeremy felt the style of the program suited his needs and decided to give it a try. He ended up losing seven pounds during his first week.
“I was a believer from that point on,” he said.
Jeremy met his goal weight of 200 pounds this past spring. Now a lifetime member of Weight Watchers, he keeps the weight off by maintaining his use of the points program and exercising a few times a week with cardio workouts and basketball games with friends.
Patrick, who has been cigarette-free since quitting earlier this year, is immensely proud of Jeremy’s achievement.
“This time he really wanted to do it,” said Patrick, adding, “I admire him. He did a great job.”
This piece originally appeared in The Sunnyvale Sun.