At 40 years old, Mark Trenkle was 285 pounds. His doctor wanted blood work, but he brushed it off, fearing the worst. His fears were well founded. He eventually had the testing done and found that he was type 2 diabetic.
At first, Mark was mad at the doctor. The results had to be wrong. But he eventually realized he was mad at himself. Over the years, he and his wife Jennifer had tried a few fad diets to lose weight, found short term success but like most of us, they fell off the diets and never climbed back on.
Jennifer, who weighed more than Mark at the time, was having a hard time moving around. They both knew they needed to do something. Mark explains, "Jennifer and I talked about how we couldn't fit on rides at amusement parks with our kids and the fact that we were both exhausted at the end of every day. At the time, our two kids were eight and five. Not only did they need their mom and dad to be around for them, they needed us to be good, healthy role models. This time the 'diet' needed to be a lifestyle change, and this time we could not go off—it needed to be forever."
Mark admits that in order to make this change last, the couple needed to be accountable. They began using My Fitness Pal. He says, "That put us at 1,200 calories per day. The biggest changes we made were cutting out pasta and red meat, which were two of our favorites. We added tons of vegetables, got rid of potato chips and junk food, and replaced white rice with brown rice, and white bread with 30-calories-per-slice whole wheat. We started drinking tons of water and stopped drinking soda. Instead of having two or three helpings of dinner per night, we limited ourselves to only one."
While using My Fitness Pal, they found that if they exercised more, they could eat more. "Jennifer started doing water aerobics a few times a week, and I began walking using the MapMyRun app to track my distance. I started with one mile three times a week and increased it a little each time," he says.
In the beginning, the pounds melted away. They both outpaced the My Fitness Pal's predictions by losing 3-6 pounds a week! After 6 weeks, people began to take notice which, Mark says, felt wonderful.
They used these weight loss efforts as a way to have fun. Mark explains, "Jennifer and I are both competitive, so she would create challenges each week to see who could lose more pounds. Every Sunday was weigh-in day, and we would reward each other—and ourselves—with things like shopping trips for new, smaller-sized clothes."
Just 4 months after his diabetes diagnosis, Mark ran his first 5k. He says, "I can't begin to describe how amazing it felt to cross that finish line. I got the 'runner's high' and couldn't wait to get it again and again. Jennifer got into different types of exercise, like Zumba, and she built up to working out six days a week."
Even though they had come to love their new active lifestyle, Mark admits that it wasn't always easy. "The hardest part by far was getting started. Once we began, Jennifer and I never looked back, challenging and motivating each other all the way. We kept telling ourselves, any exercise we do today will make us healthier than we were yesterday. Every salad we eat or burger we turn down will put us one step closer to our weight loss goals."
Mark cites Jennifer as his best friend and "primary motivator" and says that without her, he would have fallen off the wagon years ago. The relationship has grown and they've seen very impressive health gains. "Thanks to our teamwork, today, nearly three years later, I weigh 192 pounds, more than 90 pounds less than I did that fateful doctors' appointment day. Jennifer weighs 164, a whopping 205 pounds less than her 369-pound starting weight. My latest blood work revealed I am no longer diabetic—my most important victory!"
These positive moves have impacted their children as well. Mark says that his daughter thinks it is 'cool' that Jennifer lost her weight. And because they are happier and healthier parents, they have happier and healthier children. What more could you ask for?
Such an incredible weight loss journey!
Does this inspire you to stick to your goals, no matter how distant they may seem?