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2011 July

From the monthly archives:

July 2011

Here’s an inspiring story of  a jailer that dreamed of being a sheriff and lost 100lbs to do it:

Zach Shafer made his New Year’s resolution six days late, by the time many others’ resolutions had already slipped through the cracks. Despite the late start, he hasn’t slowed down in the almost seven months in between.

Orange County SheriffShafer, 26, began the year weighing 396 pounds. He worked at the Lyon County Jail but dreamed of being a law enforcement officer. His weight was holding him back. As 2011 began, he realized he had run out of excuses and set out to lose weight to get healthier and realize his career aspirations. As July comes to a close, he’s lost more than 120 pounds and has recently become a Lyon County Sheriff’s Deputy. He recently said he weighs 270 pounds.

“I didn’t want to be on blood pressure pills anymore,” he said. “And my grandma got diagnosed with diabetes and I see the pain that diabetics go through. And I didn’t want any part of that.”

The regimen began by cutting out fried food and red meat. Shafer used to be a whimsical eater, going for fast food based on impulsive cravings. Now, he sets out each week’s meals as the week begins. When a craving hits for fast food, it goes unsatisfied. Instead, Shafer eats the food he set out for that time slot. Cheeseburgers, which he used to eat 3-4 times a week, are now a distant memory.

Shafer still makes a point to eat frequently. He eats six small meals a day now so that his metabolism will be working throughout the day.

Along with the diet regimen, Shafer also joined Genesis Health Club. When he first walked in it was an uncomfortable experience. Prior to beginning his weight-loss regimen, Shafer hadn’t been engaging in physical activity.

“Walking into the gym the first day is very intimidating,” he said. “And you feel like you don’t belong.”

As he began, Shafer would post his latest weights on Facebook, which led to friends and family posting messages of support. That, he said, helped him clear some of the initial hurdles as he established his routine.

Shafer has since found the gym culture to not be so intimidating. When he wants to try a new exercise but isn’t sure how, others have been quick to show him. As he’s become acquainted with other gym-goers, they’ve also made sure to keep him on track. When he misses a day, he usually hears about it. As he continues to maintain his seven-day-a-week exercise plan, he’s still hoping to lose more weight, with a target weight of 230 pounds.

He’s also taken up bicycling. His parents always enjoyed going on bike rides, though he didn’t take it up until this year. Now, he’s hooked. He bought a bicycle and began by going on five- or six-mile rides. He’s since lengthened his trips. He went on a 32-mile ride as a portion of the Dirty Kanza. He rode 30 miles for Olpe Downhome Days. More frequently, he’ll meet up with friends to go on 20-mile bike rides.

As he’s lost more weight, more activities have become available to him. He enjoys running, and has also begun participating in a spinning class.

“Being 386 pounds is really hard on the knees to run, you just don’t feel good,” he said. “As soon as the weight started coming off, I think after about the first 50 pounds, I hopped on the treadmill and put it onto 6 and started running. That was a huge milestone for me to be able to do that.

“Because this time last year, that would have not happened. It would have just been a dream.”

Shafer has been a deputy for about a month. His first assignment has been working security at the Lyon County Courthouse. Soon, he will leave for 14 weeks of training in Hutchinson. He admits not knowing what to expect when he gets there, though he’s confident he can maintain his diet and exercise regimen no matter what is thrown at him.

“You’ve just got to have it in your head,” he said. “You can make anything work. And I got the determination that no matter what I’m put into, I will make it work. Because I know what it feels like to be that heavy and I don’t want to go back to that again.”


Here’s an interesting study on the effects of posting the calorie counts on fast food menu items. Perhaps this should be done universally!

In New York City, there has been a regulation requiring fast-food restaurants to post calorie counts of their menu items. According to a study published today in the British Medical Journal, the listings are affecting consumer choices.

While overall calorie consumption for the thousands of people tracked did not change, customers of McDonald’s, Au Bon Pain and KFC were shown to make significant modifications, according to the study funded by the City of New York and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Advocates of the law wanted to see Americans lose weight, as more than two-thirds of the country’s citizens are overweight or obese, conditions linked to health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes.

“We think, overall, these initial findings are positive,” Dr. Lynn Silver, director of New York City’s Office of Science and Policy and co-author of the report, told Reuters.

In-N-Out burgersThe British Medical Journal’s website reported that researchers surveyed more than 7,000 people in 2007 and another 8,500 in 2009 at 168 locations covering 11 of the top food chains in the city, BBC News reports.

Fifteen percent reported using the labels and these customers purchased 106 fewer calories than customers who did not use or see them.

Overall, however, there was no significant change in average calorie consumption before and after as some people were consuming more calories in 2009. Subway, the popular sandwich chain, saw a significant increase during the survey because of its promotional offer for a $5, foot-long sandwich. The other chains saw little change in their customers’ purchases.

Researchers said it was important if the scheme was going to be more of a success that education campaigns be set up to improve awareness.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health explained, “This is a great example of how calorie labeling can influence the choices people make and lead to a healthier diet.”

Beatrice Brooke, of the British Heart Foundation, added, “One in six meals in the UK is eaten away from home so it’s essential we know what’s in the food we’re buying in restaurants and cafes. The New York research shows us just how valuable calorie labeling in fast food restaurants can be.”

While New York City was the focus of this particular study, health experts across the country are keeping a close eye on the results. President Obama’s 2010 healthcare overhaul mandates a similar requirement nationwide in an effort to curb the US obesity epidemic.

In 2009, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that at least 20 percent of adults in all states, except Colorado, were obese. The CDC also said medical costs related to obesity were estimated to be as high as $147 billion in 2008.


Here’s an inspiring article about a 50 year old man that decided to turn his life around and get into shape. If he can do it, so can anyone!

Mike Percherke had enough.

Health problems were ruining his life. Sleep apnea, high blood pressure, obesity — everything seemed to be spiraling out of control.

So Percherke decided he had to make some changes in his life. Cycle Speed

Change No. 1 was attending Weight Watchers meetings, getting on the program with the well-known weight-loss company. When he began the diet, Percherke weighed more than 300 pounds. He lost 100.

With his goals of shedding the weight and getting into better health secure, Percherke now can focus on one of his lifelong goals: to compete in the Boston Marathon.

Percherke’s remarkable turnaround also has put him into the category of late-40, early 50-somethings who compete in triathlons.

Once he was able to get some of the weight off, about 110 pounds, Percherke set some other goals for himself.

“At that point, I started running,” Percherke said. “I did some 5K races, and then quickly I became interested in going further. I became intrigued in how far I could do. You get to a certain point where you can’t go faster, so you go further.”

Percherke then decided to go for a 10K, then a half-marathon, then finally a marathon.

“After that, I did a couple of more marathons. Then in spring I heard about the triathlon training, and I thought I always wanted to try something like that,” Percherke said.

His brother had done triathlons before, so after signing up at the West Shore YMCA with Kera Daily’s YTri training class, Percherke did his first triathlon on June 11.

“I found I want to keep having goals in front of myself,” Percherke said. “I’m 50 now. I want to keep going further and faster if I can. I have dreams for bigger stuff, if I can.”

Bigger stuff being the Boston Marathon.

“I’m not a real fast runner; [it] turns out in a triathlon biking is my strongest point, actually. The goal is now to keep the weight off. I can gain the weight back. It’s in my DNA to gain it back,” Percherke said.

“Even though the weight is off, I can gain it back if I don’t maintain the healthy habits I have,” Percherke said. “I think if you don’t watch yourself , the normal mode in you is to gain weight unless you’re elderly or sick or something. It’s just something I’ve been able to stay with. That motivates me.”

Percherke is training for the Boiling Springs triathlon, held in August. He would like to work up to a longer, Olympic-distance triathlon.

Some have described his health turnaround as an inspiration. To see photos of Percherke now, you’d never know he had weight problems. Looking fit, like he’s done triathlons for years, the 50-year-old, who is between jobs, has a renewed outlook on everything.

It’s almost as if he’s been born again.

“It’s kind of a miracle,” Percherke said. “Every day was miserable. I didn’t like how I felt. It was always a burden. Walking down an aisle in an office place, you feel big. You feel like you’re going to bump into somebody. Maybe people like being heavy. I never liked it. I didn’t know how to get rid of it.

“I would lose weight and gain it back. I looked at my kids, I must’ve been 46, and I realized I probably would see them grow old if I didn’t do something about it.”

Percherke also ran into the problem of not being able to help someone in need. A co-worker was in need of a bone-marrow transplant, and Percherke went to sign up to donate but was told he was too heavy to do so even if he was a perfect match.

“Several little things happened. I always said if I ever lost it, I would do things different. I would change everything,” Percherke said.

The first time he set out to compete in a 5K event, Percherke set small goals for himself.

“The goal was to break 30 minutes, and I think I broke it by four seconds. I felt great. It felt like you knew at that point you could do it,” Percherke said.

When he felt like he could obtain that goal and did, he moved to the 10K and eventually, as a member of the West Shore YMCA, saw the advertisement for Daily’s triathlon class, signed up and has been hooked since.

Percherke describes the feeling running, swimming and biking through some of the towns he’s competed in as like that of a rock star, with people he doesn’t even know, who don’t even know his story, cheering him on to finish.

“It’s a joy to be able to do it. This wasn’t possible at 300 pounds,” Percherke said. “I feel so different now, that’s for sure.”

Percherke had no idea what to expect during his first triathlon. He adopted the brick method of training, where he would take a swim, then go for a bike ride, or do a bike ride then go for a run.

“But you never do all three in training,” he said. “What I found out during my first triathlon is that I wasn’t a very good [open-water] swimmer. I will admit to being very afraid of the water.

“What I realized was how different lap swimming in a pool is to open water. There’s definite fear. I was out on my back float just trying to catch my breath. You can quit if you want to quit, but you think about the people who came to watch you that day, and I thought, I don’t want to be the one who doesn’t finish this thing,” Percherke said.

Percherke also has adopted the idea that 50 is the new 40 or, perhaps in his case, the new 30.

“I don’t know if I was ever this healthy. I was large in high school, not 300 pounds, but I was a big guy. I don’t know if I was ever in this shape. I think for a lot of us, maybe what it is, coming to grips with we’re past the halfway point of our lives and what’s left for us out there.

“I’m not going to be physically fit as a young guy, but I can outwork some younger guys. I get up and do it.”


Losing FAT is indeed more about nutrition than exercise. Check out the video below which illustrates why all top trainers say:

“You can’t out-train poor nutrition”

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