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  • September 16 2011

    Changing your lifestyle

    I'm currently participating in a yearlong internal weight loss challenge at Cerner, similar to the KC Slimdown Challenge. I wanted to share the story of my journey with you in hopes that it will motivate you to make similar changes in your own life.

    In late 2010, I weighed close to 300 pounds, had a blood pressure issue I was struggling to get under control and was starting to exhibit other health issues as well. I hadn't gained all my weight overnight. I gradually gained weight over a period of years and I had started on a diet or a fitness program many times. While I would stick with them for a while, my interest would eventually wane and I'd go back to my old eating habits and sedentary lifestyle. As soon as I did, I would gain all the weight back and usually add some more.

    I could see my health beginning to deteriorate, and as a 46 year old father of four, I want very much to be around to raise my children. I despaired that I constantly had to tell my kids that I was too tired to play catch, to take them swimming, to go for a bike ride, or play with them at the park. I want to be an active part of their life and I couldn't do it without changing my life. My wife was at a similar point with her weight and fitness and we decided to take the plunge together.

    We started with a very controlled diet. For the first few months, we didn't cheat… not even once! We stayed focused on our goals and the weight started coming off quickly. It felt great! I ate more fruit and vegetables than I ever had before and stopped going out to eat. I stopped taking the elevator at work and started taking the stairs. When the weather began to warm up in the spring, I started to walk outside. It was a struggle at first, but I slowly worked up to the point that I now try to walk 7 to 10 miles a day. Not because I have to necessarily, but because I enjoy it. My improving health, my shrinking waist size, my increased energy and the positive feedback of my friends, family and weight loss competition teammates were all motivating factors for me to help me stay focused on reaching my goal.

    To date, I've lost more than 100 lbs., around 33% of my starting weight. My wife, who has been my partner in this journey, has also lost around 33% and she couldn't be happier with the changes in her body, her confidence and her energy level. I've gotten off my blood pressure medications completely, my other health issues have cleared up as well and I'm able to be the father to my children that I want to be.

    My weight loss challenge team is doing very well in Cerner's competition and my teammates and I continue to encourage each other to shed those pounds and win not only the competition but win back our health and our lives.

    Craig Hooten is a Project Manager for the Personal Health Platform at Cerner Corporation.

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