Transformation and the road to better fitness

Chris Branstetter didn’t like what he saw, so he decided to do something about it. He embarked on a new, healthier lifestyle – spurred on by his wife and the 2012 Capital Mall fitness challenge. He is making changes and is happy with the results. Here, in his own words, is his story of transformation, the road to fitness that appeared in "Health Matters," the online newsletter of the Idaho State Employee Wellness Program.

Sick of it all
I’m a man in my 40’s. I’ve worked for the Idaho Transportation Department for 12 years. I’m married with two children – I have a great life. In my little world I would say “I have it all.”

There was only one problem. I didn’t feel all that great. I’d wake up in the morning feeling like a slug, and some days it took an incredible amount of effort just to keep going at work.

For whatever reason, things in my life started to change in December. I was heavy. I knew it. I was carrying that ‘freshman 15’ we all talk about but that 15 had ballooned over the years.

I was weighing in firmly (or as my son would say ‘jiggly’) at 230 pounds. My son was not shy about pointing that out. My clothes all fit uncomfortably ... and not just a little. It’s hard to fight your waistband all day and feel good about yourself. I felt lethargic and out of it. I just didn’t like the way I looked or felt – at all.

Things all started to click in January of this year … I began to see the bigger picture. I recently lost my father to kidney disease and a brother to heart disease. Losing family members really makes you think about your own life, your own health.
Thinking honestly, I know where that ‘slug’ feeling was coming from. I had become so accustomed to eating late in the evening then going off to bed. Eating junk food was just part of what I did. In fact, as I was pondering this ‘big picture’ I realized I was sitting on the couch late in the evening … snacking!

My wife and I talked; this wasn’t what we wanted for ourselves or for our k

ds. We decided to start making changes. My wife was a huge support. She had always been health-minded, went to the gym, and made a sincere effort to eat right. But she wanted to make some changes, too. Having her on my side to support me in a lifestyle change was huge.

Shortly after our talk on the couch, my wife and I watched some Netflix videos on obesity, diet and nutrition, inactivity … all the things we know are going wrong. One of them really clicked with us. I guess you could say it was the catalyst for us to stop talking and really start doing.

We agreed to support each other in our new healthy lifestyle changes, hold each other accountable, become more active, and model better health habits for our kids. Several of my co-workers were struggling with the same issues, and they were changing habits. So, it felt like the right time to get going.

And, so it began.

Changing our eating habits was challenging. We started with a juicing diet, which seemed to work well for us, so we just kept going and still enjoy it to a large degree. The kids continued to request their mac and cheese, pork chops, and burgers but my wife has become even more diligent in assuring they had all the fruits, veggies and nutrients they needed in addition to their favorites.

The Capitol Mall Fitness Challenge started in January, and that provided a 10-week framework for us to focus our efforts. Besides focusing on our diet and nutrition issues, we chose to be more active. My wife goes to a gym, but that’s just not me. I use a treadmill at home.

We went cross country skiing this year and I am coaching my daughter’s soccer team again. But this year, I am being more active with the team … I am running with them, not watching them run. I’m always looking for ways to put more effort into my day. Being active with the kids really was a big motivator. I want to be able to keep up with them as they grow. When you feel old and out of shape, it’s not exactly the recipe for a fun dad!

After nearly six months, I am down 25 pounds. That weight loss is wonderful, but the very best part is how much better I feel. My wife would say the same thing. I have so much more energy, my sleep has improved, I am more focused at work and at home, I can choose from the closet what I want to wear … not what still fits.

I have a different relationship with food; I’m okay with being a little hungry and dealing with a growling tummy. Gone are the days when I would silence the noise with anything I could get my hands on!

Another great outcome is our kids see us differently. They are actually able to see and participate in a lifestyle change that really makes a difference. They have seen their parents get more fit, gain more energy, get more involved in life. And, they’ve gained better nutrition and health habits that they can carry on throughout their lives!

That’s all about creating that next healthy generation.  I still have a ways to go before I reach my goal and will continue with better food choices once I reach that goal.

My advice to anyone taking on this journey is to get the support of someone – you can’t do it alone. Things don’t just change because you sit on the couch and think about it. Get your family involved; get your co-workers in the mix; or join a group. Staying motivated has so much to do with that support system. And, have a realistic goal.

My goal was less about weight and more about getting fit and feeling healthy. The weight loss was an added benefit. I recently had my state ID updated. Looking at my old ID, I see a face I don’t want back. I think I’ll keep that old ID around as a reminder of just how good I feel.

Chris Branstetter
District 3

Published 6-8-2012