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Weighty achievement

From fattest to fittest, OKC is a million pounds lighter, thanks in part to one man’s shedding of 200 of them.

BY JENN SCOTT


When Oklahoma City landed on just about every “fattest” list imaginable, Mayor Mick Cornett did not sit idly by. He launched a million-pound challenge in 2007. Since then, the mayor has lost 38 pounds himself.

“Really it was an awareness campaign. The numerical goal was a million pounds, but the real goal was to get a conversation started about obesity,” said Cornett.

There’s more cause for celebration than the shedding of pounds. Men’s Fitness magazine moved Oklahoma City from “fattest” in 2009 to “fittest” in its recent ranking of 50 U.S. cities, and no wonder: The city has hit that millionpound mark, with more than 45,000 residents crunching calories and upping exercise to shed the weight.

“We never let up. We’re redesigning all our downtown streets to be more pedestrian friendly. You see a lot of health-oriented elements coming out of our infrastructure design,” said Cornett.

Food Network star Rachael Ray took note of the city’s achievement and forward movement, inviting the top “losers” to New York City for a makeover on her Feb. 28 show.

One of them was Oklahoma City resident Joseph Coleman.


I refuse to go back to the way I used to be.

—Joseph Coleman


When he began his personal weightloss challenge, Coleman tipped the scales at 415 pounds. Twenty-six at the time, he suffered the tragedy of losing a close friend who was similar in age and weight. Coleman knew the journey wouldn’t be easy.

“Most people think that getting off the couch and working out is the hardest part. I’ve found that to be one of the easier parts,” he said. “It all comes down to food. You can work out seven days a week, but if you don’t change how you eat and be creative about it, odds are you won’t be successful. The important thing to remember is to just take one day at a time.”

While an overwhelming amount of health- and wellness-related information exists for the taking, dedication may be most important.

“I haven’t had any soda or fast food for three years,” said Coleman. “I completely changed my whole mindset. I learned how calories, sugar, fat and carbs added up and affected my body. I still snack, and I have my good and bad eating days, like everyone else.”

At first, giving up low-grade addictions like caffeine and processed foods may seem insurmountable. However, the personal reward may prove worth the battle.

“I feel like I put 20 to 30 years back on my life. I’ve maintained my weight loss for two years, and I have no doubts that this is the life I’m going to live,” Coleman said. “I refuse to let myself go back to the way I used to be.”

Today, Coleman weighs 200 pounds lighter. With his change in lifestyle, he not only lost a tremendous amount of weight, but gained a new hobby: running. Last year, he ran the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.

Speaking of running, he noted he makes trips to the grocery store more in the last three years than he has in his entire life.

“Start by making simple, acceptable and attainable changes and goals.

Determine how many calories you should consume a day and keep a food log. Write down everything you eat and how many calories you are taking in per day,” Coleman said. “It really helps. Learn how food affects your body and learn how to cook the same foods you eat now, but healthier.”

Now that Coleman has settled into a new routine, he’s learning to live, work and play in his city.

“It’s hard to break stereotypes, but I think people like Mayor Cornett and people losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle are helping to break that cycle of unhealthiness,” he said. “With all the changes coming to OKC, it’s going to be very exciting to see how this city is transformed in the next 10 years!”

ViSit OkGAzette.COM for more coverage on health, fitness and nutrition in the metro area.

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