One of the emphasis points of my seminar/keynote 'How to Build a Positive Attitude and KEEP the Darn Thing!! is how exercise and nutrition can impact our attitudes. I hit the big 50 in 2012 and am on a mission to be in the best shape of my life. As a speaker, my goal is to inspire audience members to take positive fitness/diet steps as well.
Jeff Rea, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of St. Joseph
County, took the fitness bull by the horns when it comes to fitness and is
setting a shining example for us all. When he was Mayor of Mishawaka, IN,
he made this amazing transformation. I wrote this article to share with
you a personal example of what a true commitment to fitness can lead to...
-- Charlie Adams, Motivational Speaker
THE INCREDIBLY SHRINKING CHAMBER OF COMMERCE PRESIDENT/CEO
I see Jeff Rea many times each year. When I saw him at the annual Day of Prayer event at the Battell Center just a few years ago, I just about fell over backwards. "MAN, YOU ARE IN GREAT SHAPE!" I blurted out. I hardly recognized him. Mayor Jeff had stoked the fire within to make a lifetime change in his fitness. Here is his amazing story than can kindle the flames of fitness dedication within you!
Mayor Rea was 247 pounds in January of 2007. By August of that same year he was down to 167 pounds. He has stayed around that weight ever since. I called him up because I wanted to know how he did it and how he keeps the weight off. Here is what he told me:
"Charlie, I brought a Wellness person in to speak to our team here at City Hall. She did weight and body fat testing and talked to us. Based on her charts she told me I would classify as 'obese.' I was like, "Come on..." Hearing that, and having a history of heart trouble in my family, got me going."
That stoked the fire within him!
"Charlie, I didn't do a fancy diet. Instead, I set my mind to eat better and smarter. My schedule as Mayor had me grabbing a Coke here, a candy bar there. I cut out soft drinks. I had been having seven or eight a day - that's 180 calories each and all the sugar. I switched cold turkey to water. That was tough, and I got headaches. Now I use Crystal Light flavor packs in water. I started eating wheat bread instead of white. Eating out, I would eat half the portions and take the other half back for lunch the next day. I tried to focus on what I was eating late at night. I cut out the bag of chips at 9 at night. They say if you can repeat a pattern 12 weeks, it is ingrained in you. That's what happened to me. You train your stomach. I had a chili cheese dog at the golf course the other day. My stomach said, "Jeff, we don't eat those anymore.
Charlie, I think diets lose weight real fast, but people put it back on fast. I lost 75 pounds over this time by setting a simple but powerful goal: to weigh less than the week before. That really works. During the first 52 weeks, I lost 50 pounds. Sometimes it was just a few ounces, sometimes a pound.
When I started all of this, I started walking a half hour a day. That led to riding my bike and then I started running. I had never run before. Now, I run five miles every other day. I ran the Sunburst (which finishes at historic Notre Dame Stadium) 5K in 24 minutes, which is amazing to me. I have been doing the little stuff - walking to work and taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
My doctor has been on me for years about my family history of heart troubles. I didn't want my first heart attack to be the thing to get me in better shape.
The power of encouragement has really helped me. Even though some people think I have been battling an illness or had gastric bypass, the ones that know I did this through smart eating and exercise are so encouraging. I was walking to work the other day and a lady watering her flowers said, "You look great, Mayor Jeff! Keep it up!" As I sat at my desk, I kept thinking of what she said.
I have gone through two major wardrobe changes. I did not save any of my 'fat' clothes. They are all gone. I don't plan on going back to where I was."
When Mayor Jeff Rea went out for his first run, he couldn't run around the block. Slowly but surely, through diet and exercise, he got in shape. In May of 2009 he ran the prestigious Indianapolis Half Marathon. Then, in June of 2009, on his 40th birthday, he ran the Mayor's Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska.
"Telling people that I was going to go to Alaska and run a marathon kept me motivated to keep going," he told Running Hoosier magazine. "The last thing I wanted to do was to come back and say that I didn't make it or didn't do it. I would have loved to take the people of Mishawaka along with me: they were such an encouragement."
He says he struggled a little between miles 22 and 24, but otherwise felt good. Rea finished the race in just under 4 hours and 20 minutes.
Mayor Rea said he had 2 goals, to finish the race and to do it in under 4 and a half hours. "Unbelievable, I'm a little emotional about the whole thing. Two years ago I never ran. I decided late one night to go run around Mishawaka High School and as I got home it was pitiful because at 38 I couldn't run around the block and now two years later to complete my first marathon makes me very excited."
I hope this article has stoked the fire within you to get in even better shape and to realize the power of Goals! Jeff Rea had goals in the areas of weighing less than he did the weak before, finishing the marathon, and a time he wanted to break. He also publicly stated his goal, which made him accountable. He didn't want to fall short after letting everyone know what he wanted to do.
My 2 hour and half day 'How to Build a Positive Attitude and KEEP the Darn Thing! program includes practical fitness/nutrition insights. I would love to talk you about how this program can inspire your organization regarding attitudes, peak performance and wellness.