Honest As An Eight-Year-Old

I was cruizin’ down the freeway in my sporty red minivan when I heard the sweet young voice of my 8-year-old son from the back seat. He said, “Dad, why do they make cars go 120 [mph] when the speed limit is only 70 [mph]?”

I really had to think about how I was going to answer that honest question. I considered shooting back a question allowing him to think it through, but then I reconsidered. Instead I said, “You know what, Son, that is an awesome question. I bet we could talk for hours about that.”

Silence from his end confirmed that he was still waiting for an answer, so I said, “Sometimes you just need to go fast.”

Satisfied with that response, my little boy chuckled. We drove another 10 minutes in silence as I contemplated such a profound question. He enjoyed a movie on the overhead video screen which helped sustain the silence.

Please humor me while I throw down the thoughts that ran through my mind during those 10 minutes of silence.

My mind immediately conjured an idea of choice and accountability. Next, my thoughts landed on the concept of progress and innovation. Finally, I got stuck in a maze of paradigms until I eventually found my way to a conclusion that was both satisfying for me and totally relevant to my line of work.

Let’s think about my son’s honest question again as it relates to choice and accountability. Simply put, as a motorist, I have several choices as it pertains to speed. I can choose to travel slower than the posted speed limit, at the posted limit, or faster than the posted limit. If my vehicle only allows acceleration to 70 mph then my choices are narrowed. My accountability would be lessened as well because my option of breaking the speed limit would be eliminated. However, upon entering an area with a lower speed limit my choices would increase as would my accountability.

I next considered how the concept of accountability related to progress and innovation. It begs the question, if we never pushed our boundaries nor exceeded our limits would we find it difficult to blaze new trails and progress to something new and different? I believe that every choice has an associated consequence. Consequences may not always be desirable such as speeding tickets or failures, but lessons would also be lost in a world without choice.

The paradigm that finally released me from my driving trance was a thought about how humans are not honest with themselves. What I mean to say is that we often know the truth about something but the consequence is so frightening or embarrassing that we avoid dealing with it or tell ourselves that it isn’t true.

For example, imagine yourself walking along a sidewalk with very few people around. You step off the curb and twist your ankle causing you to fall to the street. Your ankle is sprained and your pain level is about a 10, 10 being the worst. A passerby rushes to your aid and asks you if you are alright. What is your initial response?

If you responded that you were fine, you are not alone. You also just lied to yourself and to that stranger. This example seems benign, however, consider the next few.

I see examples every day of how people suffer the ultimate consequence of not being honest with themselves. I see men die from heart attacks with half-eaten rolls of antacids in their pockets. I see people overdose on drugs who are checked into rehab centers. They tell themselves, “I don’t have a problem. I don’t need to see a doctor. It’s just a little heart burn,” or, “I’m not an addict, I can stop anytime I want.”

If only we were all as honest as an eight-year-old and could ask the simple questions perhaps we would avoid all the grown-up problems that get us into so much trouble.

Here’s my plea to you. Ask the simple questions and don’t be afraid of the answers. Be honest with yourself.

Visit your primary care physician often. Health care is so important that even the Federal Government is involved in ensuring that every person is covered.

Slow down on the roadways. Please follow the posted speed limits and do not drive distracted. It pains me to watch the electronic freeway signs post days without roadway deaths. We have not reached more than 6 days without a roadway death in the state of Utah since the signs began reporting those numbers about a year ago. Remember, Zero Fatalities.

Finally, be nice to each other. It feels to me like we’ve become a society addicted to being rude. I attribute that attitude to the fact that everyone seems so disconnected. Unplug once in a while and join a team. Interact with other human beings face to face. Care for a pet. If you can’t love somebody or something else, then you will have a difficult time loving yourself.

If you don’t believe me, then trust my eight-year-old. He’s honest and he’s always happy.

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Coping Strategy: Empathy

Have you ever passed somebody in an aisle at the supermarket and felt their sadness? Have you ever heard a mother call out their lost child’s name in a crowd and thought, “What can I do to help?” Did you instantly feel connected to that parent without knowing anything about them? Have you ever lost a loved one to death-expected or sudden? You’re not alone.

Forensic scientists are not a protected class of humans devoid life experiences. We wonder, we lose loved ones and we mourn.

Have you ever had a stranger attempt to console you with the words, “I know what you’re going through.” I imagine your thoughts are somewhat negative and skeptical even if you don’t express them aloud. Now imagine a close friend expressing similar condolences. Why were your friend’s words more comforting?

Both people, the good Samaritan and your friend, exhibited empathy, but your friend’s words were immediately authenticated by the nature of your relationship. The lesson here is that empathy can be a powerful coping strategy when used properly.

I believe that the power of empathy comes from a genuine connection that develops between two people. Empathy comes from a place within. It’s the capacity to put yourself in another’s place and understand their experience from their frame of reference.

There are nearly 7 billion people on this planet. Approximately 10% of the population lack empathy as characterized by Alexithymia. So what about the other 90%?

We are needy creatures. We seek approval. We need to feel connected. Admittedly, I feel a rush of adrenalin every time I receive a comment on a post or a like from a reader. My desire for your approval and the connection it affords us is the drug that sustains my habit.

How does this relate to forensics? It’s a delicate process for the forensic scientist to use empathy personally to cope with hard situations and then to put it away to perform logical tasks. The forensic scientist cannot allow emotion to overpower logic. In the business we call it dissociation, the process of switching from empathy to alexithymia. Speaking for myself, that process is automatic and switches back and forth as needed.

Some emotion is healthy and can be useful. Being able visualize another’s perspective can help recreate remote situations. For example, being able to see through the eyes of a killer can help investigators recreate a homicide scene. However, too much emotion can override logic and preclude awareness of simple facts due to overwhelming feelings of disgust and horror.

I recall a case where my empathetic feelings towards a victim were so strong that it took me several months to cope with the sadness that took over my thoughts. I couldn’t imagine that such a thing happened. The horrifying details haunted my mind until I successfully transcended the varying stages of grief and accepted the facts. We came together as a group and discussed the situation and expressed our feelings. We felt connected and stronger afterward.

There are groups of people who come together to make quilts for infants and toddlers at Primary Children’s Hospital. These people feel good about providing something kind and thoughtful to families, and the people they serve feel better knowing that someone else understands what they are going through.

I believe that human begins uniting in understanding is powerful. After all, what exudes empathy more than a room full of people who share similar stories and experiences? Festival of Trees is a great example of this. 

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There is one week of the year when I allow my emotions to take over. It’s the week I attend Festival of Trees with my wife. We walk up and down the heavily adorned aisles enjoying the beautiful trees meticulously decorated by generous donors. This is when I allow myself to let go and cry as I read each tender story. I find it extremely therapeutic. This past Festival was undeniably difficult due to the fact that we recently lost a loved one. There were so many trees dedicated to children with reminiscent stories that it was hard to see through tear soaked eyes. But that was okay because I wasn’t the only one. Thousands of empathetic visitors flooded the halls of Sandy Expo Center each of them flooding their cheeks with tears.

It can be rewarding to meet people who have survived the thing you’re going through. It gives you hope that you can do the same.

Other good examples come from suicide prevention groups such as NAMI, AFSP, and USPC. These groups are primarily composed of suicide survivors, researchers and community members. Joining forces with like-minded people who share the same passions makes for a strong coalition. Understanding the mind of a person contemplating suicide aids in helping them and at the same time helps the survivor cope with the loss of a loved one to suicide. Sometimes simply talking with somebody who went through what you’re going through brings about understanding. Understanding your situation is crucial to coping. Empathy helps you gain that understanding.

As a child I enjoyed watching Saturday morning cartoons. They would broadcast inspirational commercial bits between shows which were often delivered by the cartoon that had just ended. The most memorable for me was GI Joes giving advice about something pertinent like healthy nutrition and following it up by saying, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.”

The other half of the battle is caring enough about yourself or the person with whom you are empathizing to do something. Anything difficult and worthwhile requires an effort. In my opinion, feeling sorry for yourself or for someone else isn’t expressing true empathy. I equate empathy with charity. Empathy as a coping mechanism requires action. Do something good for somebody else and together you’ll both feel better.

 

 

Mid-camp Results

Hello friends. As promised, I’m here to report my mid-camp results. Now that I have results for the first 4 weeks of Biggest Loser Camp I will begin tracking my activities including food intake and exercise. We will be able to track my progress for the next 4 weeks in order to determine if simply accounting for food and activity will improve results. This is in response to my previous post wherein I suggested an experiment to support what our trainer, Jennifer Cottam, has instructed us to do from the beginning which is to track our diet and exercise.

I’ll give you my beginning measurements and then compare those to my Week 4 mid-camp measurements courtesy of Tanita Body Composition Analyzer.

                                        Week 1             Week 4                Progress

Weight                           162.4lb              158.6lbs                  -3.8lbs

BMI                                 26.2                   25.6                          -0.6

FAT%                              21.1%               19.6%                      -1.5%

Impedance                     474 Ohms        466 Ohms                 -8 Ohms

Fat Mass                         34.2lbs             31.0lbs                      -3.2lbs

Fat Free Mass                128.2lbs           127.6lbs                    -0.6lbs

Total Body Water           93.8lbs             93.4lbs                      -0.4lbs

What does it all mean? Let’s start at the top and work down.

First of all let’s discuss weight and BMI. The scale shows that I lost 3.8lbs over the 4 week period. Using the formula, weight (kg)/height (m)^2, we arrive at 25.6. If you don’t want to convert to metric units from English units you can use the following formula: weight (lb)/(height (in) x height (in)) x 703 = BMI. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention BMI is a fairly reliable indicator of body fatness for most people. It is not a perfect method but can be considered and easy-to-perform alternative of screening compared to underwater weighing and x-ray absorptiometry. Normal BMI range for adults is 18.5 to 24.9. Anything above 30 BMI is considered obese and will lead to health problems.

Next we see Fat% reduction by 1.5%.  This is not a calculation of fat mass lost but rather the percentage of total body weight that is fat. We’ll discuss fat mass and fat-free mass later on.

Impedance is probably the number that gets overlooked the most because it’s not very intuitive. It seems like something that an electrical engineer should know and not really something a nutritionist should worry about. I like this topic, however, because it makes sense to me. Long ago as an undergrad I declared electrical engineering as my major. This was two years before discovering a passion for biology and emergency medicine. The great thing about electricity and biology is that they intertwine.

All living organisms require energy to survive. The beauty of electricity or energy is the fact that it cannot be created or destroyed, only changed from one form to another. That’s explained in the First Law of Thermodynamics. According to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, once the potential energy locked in carbohydrates is converted into kinetic energy used for movement by an organism, the organism will get no more until energy is input again. In the process of using energy to move about, some will be lost as heat-a process referred to as entropy, which is a measure of disorder. Because the cells in a biological organism are not disordered they have low entropy. The flow of energy maintains order and life.

Simply stated, muscles work on electrical impulses from nerves. They move by transferring ions across barriers much like a battery. Muscles are inherently conductive. In contrast, skin and adipose are inherently resistant to electricity as their primary functions include protection and insulation. Impedance refers to the body’s inherent nature to resist electrical current. The correlation between impedance and fat mass can be drawn as a relationship between the amount of fat (natural insulator) in your body compared to the amount of muscle (natural conductor) in your body.

That’s probably more than you cared to know about impedance, but it’s important to know that it has meaning and could be a useful tool when combined with all the other measurements from the body composition analyzer.

Fat mass and Fat free mass should add up to equal your body’s total weight. These measurements separate the weight of your fat and the aggregate weight of everything else including muscle, bone, water, and your internal organs. Your organs comprise about 10-20% of your total weight. Having eviscerated thousands of organs in my career I can verify that the total weight of organs including intestines in a healthy adult can weigh anywhere from 15 to 20lbs. The weight of your skeleton can be estimated the same way. Your bones weigh about 15% of your total body weight.

Finally, Total body water is exactly what is implied by its title. This is the weight of all the water in your body. This big number shouldn’t be surprising given the fact that we are composed of 50-70% water.

Now to the fun part. Let’s review my stats and see if everything measures up.

My total weight at mid-camp was 158.6lbs. My fat mass and fat-free mass were 31lbs and 127.6lbs respectively. They equal 158.6lb. So far so good. Now, when I divide my fat mass by my total weight I get 0.19546. That indeed matches the Fat % number, 19.6%, provided by Tanita. Compared to my Week 1 weigh-in numbers there was a reduction in fat by 3.2lbs or 1.5% overall. These numbers suggest a reduction in Impedance and in fact we do see a reduction in resistance to an electrical current by 8 Ohms. This reduction in Impedance should correlate to an increase in muscle mass.

If I estimate the weight of my organs at 15lbs and my bones at 20lbs, then I can approximate my skeletal muscle mass at around 61.6lbs. This number isn’t perfect, however, because we have to consider my total body water weight. Unfortunately, we are limited by using only one method of measuring body composition. We can’t accurately account for water weight because water is essentially in every cell of our bodies, but I hope this was fun exercise in interpreting results from the Tanita Body Composition Analyzer.

http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/assessing/bmi/adult_bmi/index.html

https://brandcall.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/tbf-300-body-composition-analyzer/

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_do_humans_conduct_electricity#slide=1&article=How_do_humans_conduct_electricity

http://www.healthstatus.com/health_blog/body-fat-calculator-2/frame-size-how-much-does-it-affect-your-weight/

https://brandcall.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/scientific-diet-not-the-name-of-a-pet-food-company/

TBF-300 Body Composition Analyzer

The Tanita Body Composition Analyzer requires the user to input age, height, gender, body type and estimated weight of clothing. The user must remove shoes and socks and step onto the platform. Bare feet must be in contact with the electrodes on the platform while measurements are  taken. After weight stabilizes, impedance is measured. After measurements are taken all other data is calculated and reported.

TBF scaleTBF platform

The print out reports the following information: (This was my initial analysis at the beginning of the Biggest Loser Camp.)

Body Type: Standard (In comparison, an athletic body type is defined by TANITA as a person involved in physical activity for at least 10 hours per week with a resting heart rate of 60 beats per minute.)

Gender: Male

Age: 36

Height: 5ft 6in (1.66 meters)

Weight: 162.4lb (73.66kg)

BMI: 26.2 (Body Mass Index is a height to weight ratio depicted by the formula: kg/m^2)

FAT%: 21.1% (The percentage of total body weight that is fat.)

BMR: 7020 kJ, 1678 kcal (Basal Metabolic Rate represents the total energy expended by the body to maintain normal functions at rest. It is proportional to fat-free mass.)

Impedance: 474 ohms (Impedance reflects the body’s inherent resistance to an electrical current. Muscle acts as a conductor of electrical current, adipose tissue acts as a resistor. Normal range for the human body is 300-1000 ohms. Men tend to have lower resistance due to larger muscles.)

Fat Mass: 34.2lb (Total weight of fat in the body.)

FFM: 128.2lb (Also referred to as lean body mass it is a function of height, weight, age, and resistance. Formula: FFM = Weight – (Weight/FAT%))

TBW: 93.8lb (Total Body Water is the amount of water retained in the body. TBW is said to comprise 50-70% of total body weight.)

Desirable Range: (These numbers are specific to each user.)

Fat%: 8-20%

Fat Mass: 11.2-32.0lb

My goal by the end of the Biggest Loser Camp is to reduce my FAT% to 18% or less. On Wednesday’s mid-camp weigh-in I’m hoping that my FAT% is 20% or less.

https://brandcall.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/scientific-diet-not-the-name-of-a-pet-food-company/

Scientific Diet (not the name of a pet food company)

I’m going to perform a scientific experiment for the second half of Cottonwood Height’s Biggest Loser Camp. This experiment comes from the fact that I’ve seen little progress during the first half of the competition and I’ve worked very hard, or at least I think I have. Our mid-camp weigh-in is this Wednesday and so far I’ve only lost 2.4 pounds which is less than a pound a week. Although those results are not terrible, I still want to see if I can improve my progress with simple observation and accounting. I’ll call it my scientific diet.

The experiment I’m proposing was inspired by a thought expressed in my previous post titled Addicted to Losing. I would like to test the theory stated in that post that overall health of an individual is composed of two components that are directly related: physical fitness and psychological well-being.

Question: Can I affect one component of my overall health without directly affecting the other? More specifically, if I improve my physical fitness by the end of the Biggest Loser Competition, THEN will I automatically be happier?

In order to measure physical fitness I’ll compare my weigh-in results from the beginning of the Biggest Loser Camp to my results at the end of the camp. The instrument used by Cottonwood Heights Rec Center is the TBF-300 Body Composition Analyzer made by Tanita. The analyzer reports body composition by measuring and computing total weight, impedance, fat mass, fat-free mass, water weight, body fat %, BMR, and BMI, (based on height and age input.) I’ll explain these terms in an immediate subsequent post titled TBF-300 Body Composition Analyzer.

Beginning Wednesday, Feb. 19 I’ll use an app named My Fitness Pal to maintain a daily food intake and exercise diary. Up to this point in the competition I have not accounted for food or exercise. It is my opinion that the lack of accounting is responsible for my tedious progress. I’ve monitored the food I’ve eaten and I’ve exercised 3 to 4 times a week, but I have not taken an account of calories in and calories burned. My Fitness Pal will help me do just that.

Tracking psychological well-being could prove a little more difficult. I’ll have to consider my mood at this moment as base line and begin tracking daily encounters with other people as a sort of pulse to my well-being over the course of the next 4 weeks. Initially I’ll record each encounter and personal interaction throughout the day. All positive interactions will be counted in the good mood column and all neutral or negative interactions will be recorded in the bad mood column. My thought is that if I’m truly in a good mood then my attitude should be genuine and infectious enough to elicit a good mood in another person thus promoting a positive interaction. I’ll work from the assumption that as others read my body language and make judgments accordingly they will mimic my mood in response. In conjunction, I’ll consider recording hugs and handshakes. I won’t count sympathy hugs or professional greetings, but rather symbols of positive personal connections like back slaps and knuckle taps. Likewise, negative gestures will receive points in the bad mood column.

Another important aspect of mental well-being relates to sleep patterns. I’ll track my sleep patterns such as uninterrupted sleep versus insomnia. I’ll include dreams where appropriate. (This part should be entertaining.) I might even ask Max to depict some of my dreams as Max Art cartoons for your enjoyment. Bad dreams or no dreams (due to insomnia) will be counted in the bad mood column and all other dreams will infer uninterrupted sleep and will be counted in the good mood column. This is the simplest way to score them since dreams are subject to personal interpretation and may or may not occur regardless of duration of sleep.

I’ll chart my daily progress and report to you once a week for the next 5 weeks. My goal is to win first place at Cottonwood Heights Biggest Loser camp AND to be happy. These two things should go hand-in-hand. If I end up winning the contest and find myself anxious and miserable then I’ll have to reconsider my theory that physical fitness and emotional well-being are directly linked, OR consider that there is something else in my life thwarting my happiness.

Ultimately, I hope to improve my overall progress simply by monitoring and recording my efforts.

Wish me luck.

https://brandcall.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/morbid-obesity/

https://brandcall.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/i-am-the-biggest-loser/

https://brandcall.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/my-wife-is-waisting-a-weigh/

https://brandcall.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/addicted-to-losing/

Addicted to Losing

Today I realized that I hadn’t posted anything for quite some time. To those who enjoyed my silence I say, “You’re welcome,” to everyone else, I do apologize profusely. I hope you are all doing well.

I’d like to continue a thought that began last May regarding weight loss and nutrition. I’m thinking about it not only because I recently participated in another Biggest Loser competition, but also because I’ve just registered to compete again in another Biggest Loser camp that started last week at the Cottonwood Heights Rec Center. Perhaps I’m addicted to losing?

Cottonwood Heights Rec Center

Cottonwood Heights Rec Center

I’m excited about this particular competition because the format is slightly different from previous seasons. Instead of a single coach/trainer managing two teams we will have two trainers managing two teams. I’m hoping competition between the two trainers will drive us to even better results. Unfortunately, I had to miss the first team challenge this past Saturday morning due to work. Duty calls.

As mentioned earlier, I participated in another Biggest Loser competition recently. I wasn’t the winner that time but I did take second place with a weight loss of 7.8 pounds. Unfortunately, I’ve gained most of that back. Part of that gain came from that fact that I broke my clavicle near the end of the contest which limited my activity, but most of it came from the fact that I had very little resolve to manage my food intake over the holiday season.

It’s that last point regarding lack of resolve that I want to discuss. I titled the post Addicted to Losing because it speaks to the struggle between the healthy and unhealthy avenues we take towards weight loss and nutrition. To be addicted to something carries a negative connotation as does losing. Now I want to contrast the phrase addicted to losing with another phrase, determined to be healthy. To begin the discussion I would like to present the following question: Is being hooked on weight loss competitions a good thing or do we torture ourselves with up and down, weight-loss, weight-gain, roller-coaster fads that change with the season?

Before I answer that question, let me preface my response with this short anecdote about running. I have several good friends who love to run marathons. When I learned that one of my friends was training for his third marathon of the year I asked him how he could possibly enjoy running. It seemed to me that the training alone was torture enough to force any sane person to quit. I felt like maybe he was addicted to running marathons-in a bad way. You’ll appreciate his response.

He told me that running marathons started for him as a personal challenge and gradually turned into a hobby. He compared it to any other hobby such as gardening or painting. It’s an avenue, he said, that allows a person’s mind to escape and recoup. Although some of his reasoning for running included health and fitness he also mentioned appreciating the opportunity to be alone with his thoughts. He said that training for a marathon required dedication. It improves stamina. Best of all, he said that the long distance run teaches a person how to cope with fatigue and pain and helps build confidence when you realize that you can actually finish the race.

With that in mind, can we be addicted to weight loss competitions in a good way or not? Let me explain to you why I think it is a good thing for me. You can be the judge whether or not you think it’s true for yourself.

There are certain things that need to be in play in order to make anything worthwhile whether it’s a Biggest Loser competition or training for a marathon. I’ll list three things that have helped me, but there could be many more tailored specifically to you. Only YOU know what motivates you.

First of all, I set goals. I made my goals fun and unforgettable. For example, one of my goals for my first competition was to be able to run naked on the beach without my fatty parts jiggling. You’ll never arrive anywhere if you don’t know where you want to go. There’s a great line in Lewis Carroll’s, Alice in Wonderland where Alice asks the Cheshire Cat to tell her which way to go. He tells her that it depends on where she wants to go. Her reply was, “I don’t much care where.” To which the cat responds, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.” If you tell yourself simply that you want to lose weight, then will a loss of 1 pound satisfy? Your goals must be realistic and you should also provide an appropriate reward for accomplishing them. Never use food as a reward. Let me restate, “Never use splurging as a reward!”

Secondly, I put in the time. So many people are looking for an easy way out. You hear all the time about a wonder drug that will help you lose weight requiring little more than swallowing a pill. Maybe the wonder drug works or just maybe the drug takes away the opportunity for you to develop the desire to work toward your goal. You must put in the time. You can achieve anything over time with a little work. You must be patient and revisit your goals if you’re not seeing results over time.

In the third place, I had fun. This is where a competition like The Biggest Loser comes into play. The local competition at Cottonwood Heights Rec Center involved many of my friends and neighbors, including my wife, which made it quite enjoyable to participate. Being involved with weight loss contests are a healthy avenue for fitness. They provide elements of friendly competition and reward. I am motivated to continue working when I have a friend working beside me.

I’d like to send you away with one more theory. I believe that a person’s overall health has two components: physical and psychological. I also believe that a person cannot affect one of those components without affecting the other. Consider your psyche the next time you’re running with a friend. I’ll bet you’re in a pretty good mood despite the fact that you’re running.

Be careful out there and remember friends, know where you’re going, don’t be afraid to work, and have fun. Wish me luck in this season of Cottonwood Height’s Biggest Loser.

(Click on Photo of the day to go to Cottonwood Heights Parks and Recreation webpage.)

https://brandcall.wordpress.com/2013/05/25/my-wife-is-waisting-a-weigh/

https://brandcall.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/i-am-the-biggest-loser/

https://brandcall.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/morbid-obesity/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cottonwood-Heights-Biggest-Loser-Camp/219519374777391

My Wife is Waisting A-Weigh

Please welcome my wife, Katy, as she relates her experience with losing weight and learning to maintain a healthy lifestyle. She offers great advice for those struggling with maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I find her words encouraging and inspirational. I also find it a little bit humorous when people ask her how she lost so much weight and then become discouraged finding out it was through hard work and exercise. They always respond, “I was hoping you’d recommend a magic pill or offer surgery advice.”

Waisting A-Weigh
by Katherine Callor

For as long as I can remember I have been “chubby”. I was never the super skinny girl and many took the opportunity to remind me of that. I was teased, called names, and looked over by boys. It was truly devastating for me. For a short time in college I was able to shed pounds and be healthy, but then life changes occurred; marriage, babies, work, and soon my weight got out of control.

Four years ago our family decided to take a vacation to California. On our way out-of-town we had to make an unexpected trip to the doctor. As I sat in the office of a new physician, she came in to chat with me. This visit was one that would forever change the course of my life. “I don’t want to hurt your feelings,” she started with, “But do you know you have a weight problem?” I almost laughed out loud. I was 5 feet 2 inches tall and weighed 220 lbs. I wore woman’s size 20 pants. Did she really think I didn’t know that I was overweight? Truth is, I DID know, but I felt helpless to do anything about it.

Fate had sent me a letter in the mail highlighting programs available to me through my health insurance. Utah state employees have access to some wonderful programs for health. The first is Healthy Utah, a program designed to help encourage employees to be healthy, that rewards them for active lifestyles and being in healthy weight ranges. They also offer a program called “Waist A-Weigh”. To qualify for this program a participant needs to be over 30% BMI and committed to losing the weight. It is a rigorous program, but the rewards are wonderful. I had been carrying around the paperwork to enroll in Waist A-weigh for 6 months, but was embarrassed to get a doctor’s permission to enroll. Here was my chance!

I asked the Dr. to help me by signing the paperwork. She agreed, but only if I lost 4 pounds in 4 weeks. The follow-up appointment was made and my journey began. That month I worked hard to adjust my eating habits, work out (which was very hard) and tried to take that off 4 pounds. My hard work paid off and when I returned to the doctor I had lost 8 pounds! She signed my papers and I began the journey of a life time.

To stay enrolled in the Waist A-Weigh program I had to commit to losing 1% BMI every 60 days. I had to check in with a life coach every 30 days. I could choose a weight loss program of my choice and be reimbursed up to $100 every month if I made my goal. I had tried programs like Weight Watchers, Deal-a-meal, etc. and found that they didn’t really work for me. I opted to go with a personal trainer.

I started working out once a week with my trainer and she would give me plans to do 3 more times each week. As I look back at those first few meetings, I remember going home and hurting for days afterwards. I could barely move. I remember the first time that I was able to make it for 20 straight minutes on the elliptical! It was a party day! I had successes and I had struggles. There were times that I didn’t meet my goals. It was frustrating. I had to change the way I looked at food. My trainer helped me to better understand nutrition and portions. I learned to eat more protein, especially on days when I lifted weights. I also learned that cardio is good, but you need to work in weight training to create muscle.

My progress was slow. Others would comment on how great I was looking and wanted to know how I was doing it. When I said that it was diet and exercise they would scoff and say “that’s too hard, I just want a magic pill.” I occasionally mention that I had tried the “magic pills” in college and seen results, but the results were temporary and the side effects extremely dangerous. Unfortunately there isn’t a magic pill! You have to work hard every day at it.

There are lots of stories about how personal trainers start out as your friend and soon become your worst enemy. They push you, make things hard and switch things up all the time. I count my trainer as one of my best friends. She has changed my life and the way that I look at working out and eating. We now work-out together as friends, and hang-out outside the gym. She still encourages me and provides me with helpful little reminders.

Two years after starting Waist A-Weigh, I graduated from the program. I lost 85 pounds and got my BMI down below 25%. It’s been 2 years since I graduated and I have kept the weight off. I still have to work hard every day, constantly watch what I eat and always keep it at the front of my thoughts. I feel great when I exercise and now I can maintain long periods of high intensity. I have never been a runner in my life, yet now I can go 3 miles without dying. I still have to worry about my BMI ~ I am after all not that tall! According to my BMI I am still overweight! My body fat % is down lower than it has ever been and for me that is what matters most. For the first time in my life, I can see light between my legs! Amazing! I have muscles in my arms and shoulders. I can do full push-ups, not the girly ones. I have the energy to run and play with my children. We have all made healthy life changes.

Through all this, my self-image has been the hardest to change. I still gravitate to the plus-size clothes before realizing that I now wear size small. I still compare myself to every person that I see, and I have to remember that even if I gain a few pounds, I am nowhere near where I was 4 years ago. I am working to learn to love my body and where it is. Does that mean that I’m done losing weight? Absolutely not! I am willing to take on the challenge! Will I ever be called “Rolly Polly” again? Never!

My advice to those of you who are struggling with weight, keep going! It may seem hard, it may seem as though your goals are never going to be reached, but you can do it! It is hard, it does take a long time, but I know that the benefits of getting healthy will far outweigh the challenge it is to get there! Find a friend, make it fun and keep going!

Katy before Waist A-Weigh

Photo of Katy on the fateful day of her doctor’s appointment before Waist A-Weigh.

After shot of Katy

Katy after Waist A-Weigh graduation