Finding my dream again: My weight loss and health transformation

Stephen PetersonI have been battling my weight my entire life. I have been the “fat kid” since fourth grade. I did not participate in sports or exercise. I watched from the sidelines.

Diagnosed with high cholesterol in college, I was put on cholesterol-lowering medication, and later another prescription for heartburn. I was also diagnosed with sleep apnea, as I stopped breathing an average of 38 times every hour. I had to wear a CPAP machine mask at night just to keep me alive and breathing until morning.

In March 2012 that all changed.

One night while walking our dog, I decided to jog instead of walk. I jogged at a very slow pace for about 100 yards, stopped to catch my breath, and walked for a bit. Something changed in me at that moment. A voice in my head said, “This is enough!” It was time for me to take control of my life and set a better example for my family.

Later that week my wife and I signed up for our first 5k in June 2012. After training for three months, we both finished the race. I finished two seconds under 30 minutes. This was my first time running 3.1 miles all at one time. I was hooked! That same afternoon I signed up for another race in July, this time a five-mile one. On one of the hottest days of 2012, I ran five miles in 52 minutes! Next was a 15k relay with two friends in October. I ran my leg at my personal best time. After months of training I was ready for my next challenge, a half-marathon. In Nov. 2012, I completed a 13.1-mile run in two hours and 25 minutes!  This June I will run in a six-team, 200-mile relay race from Madison to Chicago, called the Ragnar Relay.

After six months of watching my diet, running and doing other exercise (and setting a better example for my children), I’ve lost 60 pounds and 23 inches. I no longer need to take cholesterol-lowering or heartburn medication. I recently had my sleep apnea problem checked and the occurrences have dropped from 31 to 1.1 per hour. A rate of occurrence for an average person is three times per hour. I will be re-evaluated in June, and I know I am on the way to never needing that CPAP machine again.

What have I gained from this experience? I gained the ability to dream again. My father passed away well before his time and never had the chance to meet my children, his grandchildren. I have made choices in my life during this past year to ensure I will continue to set a good, healthy example for my kids and live long enough to meet my grandchildren – and beyond.

All it took was making a choice between living in an unhealthy way or taking control of my life and my dreams. Today, I really live life instead of just existing.

Have you made the choice to live a healthy life? What do you do?

by Stephen Peterson on Tue, Feb 12 2013 5:36 pm
Posted by Stephen Peterson on Tue, Feb 12 2013 5:36 pmStephen Peterson is a physical damage senior desk adjuster with American Family Insurance.


Charyl Uptegraw said on Feb 13, 2013
Way to go big brother! We are very proud of you. You have set a great example for all of us and inspire so many people. Keep it up!
Tom Buchheim said on Feb 12, 2013
Thanks for sharing your story, Stephen!
Paul Bauman said on Feb 12, 2013
Way to go, Stephen! You're setting the pace for a great life -- and motivating many others in the process. Keep on running!
Michele Post said on Feb 14, 2013
Good for you Stephen! Thank you for sharing your story.

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