'I decided to take action'
Ric Mellin 41, Wesley Chapel HEIGHT: 5-foot-11 STARTING WEIGHT: 217CURRENT WEIGHT: 167 WHY I DID IT: I am a high school principal in Pasco County. I have been in my current position since March 2009, and I have been a school-based administrator since 1999. As you can imagine, there is a lot of stress in this role. There are many 10-hour days or even 50-hour work weeks. It is very easy to fall into the habit of buying snacks out of a vending machine, eating too much of the wrong foods in the staff cafe, or grabbing a bite to eat at a fast-food restaurant prior to an evening event. I was at my heaviest around this time last year, just as the school began its annual Weight Loss Challenge for the staff. At the weigh-in, I was at 217 pounds and was barely fitting into a size 38 waist. In addition to the annual challenge, I also had some blood work done at one of our school district's health clinics. The clinics are tied to one of our school system's priorities: to create a culture of wellness to support employees' personal health goals. The results of the blood tests were eye-opening. There were several results that put me in the "at risk" category. I decided to take action. Not only for the school contest, but because I wanted to maintain a healthier lifestyle. If we tell our children to make healthy choices, I needed to step up to the plate and be a role model for them. In addition, I had successful back surgery a few years ago because of a herniated disc in my lower back. The damage left me permanently handicapped with foot drop on the right side. I hoped losing weight would take some pressure off my back and would keep a recurrence from happening in the future. HOW I DID IT: At the suggestion of two members of the school's staff who already were experiencing weight-loss success, I began a high protein/low carbohydrate regimen modeled after the popular Dukan Diet. The diet consists of eating lean meats, nonfat dairy products, eggs and oat bran in the initial phase. After that part of the diet, I was able to introduce certain fruits and vegetables. In addition, I started to exercise regularly at home, riding a stationary bike for 30 minutes to burn calories. Following the easy diet and sticking to the other routines that I established led to successful weight loss in less then six months. Not only did I win the school contest, I continued to shed the pounds until I reached my ideal weight. HURDLES: There were times during the weight-loss period that I became hungry or I did not feel like exercising. The way I got past the hunger was to snack on foods that were included in the diet: cheese sticks, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt. I also resisted the temptation of desserts, which was especially difficult since my school just opened a culinary academy. I made the exercising time pass more quickly by watching episodes of sitcoms on my iPad. Since I reached my ideal weight, I've continued to eat the foods in the diet. My lunch consists of a sandwich on wheat bread, a carrot or celery sticks instead of potato chips, Greek yogurt with oat bran, and an apple. For dinner, I control my portions by eating what is served on a salad plate instead of a dinner plate. I also no longer finish what's left on my son's plate, nor do I go back for seconds. We still enjoy going out to dinner as a family. I just save my reward meals for those nights. GOING THE DISTANCE: I am happy to say that it's been a year since I started and I have been able to maintain the weight loss. The lowest weight that I got down to was 163, but I have leveled off and maintained my current weight for almost six months. My waist is now 34 inches, meaning I trimmed off 4 inches. My blood-work results also improved. I am no longer at risk, and all of the results showed improvements that even shocked the clinic doctor who reviewed them with me. BEST ADVICE: Embrace a support system of people who will encourage you. It's very difficult to do this alone. I work with fantastic people at the school and have a wonderful family that stuck with me through the process.
I Lost It is a regular feature highlighting individual weight loss success stories and does not reflect the opinions of 4you, which encourages you to work with a physician or a nutritionist before embarking on a diet. To share your story, visit TBO.com, search Lost It; or email firstname.lastname@example.org; or mail to 4you, The Tampa Tribune, 200 S. Parker St., Tampa FL 33606.