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I Lost Weight to Save My Life

Ken Cook, USA Fitness member since 2000, lost over 80 pounds.

In September 2000 I had a physical and weighed-in at 242 pounds.  My cholesterol level was over 240, blood pressure was 150/90 and sugar level was over 200.  My wife and I had a “surprise” 4th son at age 43 and during this physical my doctor was very blunt and advised that if I wanted to see my son graduate from high school, I’d better lose weight — now.

My father had died of a heart attack at 51 so this really hit home.

Then, my father-in-law passed away on October 12, 2000 – that was the final spark I needed.

My trainer was great…He would encourage me when I was ready to give-up; he just seemed to know when to push, when to back-off and when to build me up.

I joined USA Fitness, then Jordan Fitness, as soon as things settled down after the funeral.  At this time my commute to and from work took 3-1/2 to 4 hours; I was working 10 or more hours per day, 5 to 6 days per week; and I was attending college 3 to 4 nights per week.  My diet was pretty much nothing but fast-food because of this lifestyle.  I needed a gym that I would pass on the way home from work because I knew I would not attend if I had to go out after being home, and USA Fitness fit the bill.

My primary care doctor actually called his associates into the room to “show me off” to his associates. I owe my new life to his frankness along with the staff at USA Fitness.

A Jump Start with a Personal Trainer. I hired one of the personal trainers. He set up my first exercise routine — but I refused the fitness profile out of embarrassment.  I knew I had gained even more weight since my September 2000 physical by the way my pants fit (or didn’t fit in this case) so I was well over 242 pounds.  My trainer was great, though.  He would encourage me when I was ready to give-up; he just seemed to know when to push, when to back-off and when to “build me up,” so to speak.

I had my first fitness profile in March of 2001 and my weight had dropped to 191 with my blood pressure improving to 132/84.  I set a goal of getting below 150 pounds – which was my weight when I got married in 1974.  I had doubts that I would reach my goal, so what did I do? I set it because I knew it would keep me pushing to succeed!

I keep my “before” photo in my gym bag to stay motivated.

Well…I did. I hit 149 in August 2001.

By February 2002, my weight had gone back up to 163, but I’ve kept it pretty stable ever since, ranging from 160-166 depending on the time of year.

Achieving my weight-loss goal took about a year, and as an added bonus my blood pressure, resting heart rate, sugar level and cholesterol level all dramatically improved as well.

Ken’s Crowning Moment

My primary care doctor actually called his associates into the room to “show me off” to his associates.  Even though he has since retired we are still friends and I owe my new life to his frankness along with the staff at USA Fitness.

The Secrets to Ken’s Success

My trainer set up many different routines as I became more fit.  He always challenged me but never with something that I wouldn’t be capable of.

As for diet, I had read a few articles about men over 40 losing weight through exercise and reducing their fat intake.  My trainer agreed with this plan so I went at it.  He also advised that I should “cheat” on the diet whenever I was up against a weight plateau or just needed a boost.  He felt this was better than giving up altogether and he was right.

Also, I keep my “before” photo in my gym bag to stay motivated.

The Tough Stuff…

The hardest part of my weight loss was walking away from the dinner table without second helpings.  Also, I love most every food that is high in fat!  It was tough when I hit a weight loss plateau which could last weeks but the USA Fitness staff was very supportive during these periods.

Ken’s Tips and Tricks:

  1. Reward Yourself! I think the best advice I received was that it was better to give in to a craving every once in awhile rather than giving up the diet all together.  I would set a weight loss goal and reward myself with a real cheeseburger (not the McDonald’s kind!).  After which I would be satisfied and return to my diet with renewed vigor. I still struggle to keep the weight off working out 5 or more times per week.  My typical Monday through Friday routine is a breakfast of oatmeal, followed by a lunch of carrot sticks, celery and some sort of dipping sauce and I will eat a “normal” dinner.
  2. Make Friends. Another tip would be to make friends with other members of USA Fitness as it’s more to look forward to when exercising.  Most members are “in the same boat” as I am – just trying to lose weight and/or maintain a fitness level.
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