‘By the Numbers’ or, ‘The Case of the Missing Chunky Second Grader’


Yes, I did get first place in my division at the 5K. We won’t discuss how many other competitors there were in that division.

The official Healthy Challenge is over, but my on-going personal challenge is just beginning.

 (Here’s my first Healthy Challenge entry in case you missed it. It goes into a little more detail the nutrition side of things and my eating habits.)

After three months of working out every day (my best man and I even went and worked out the morning of the wedding) and trying my darndest to eat right, here are my results.

Let’s start off with a bang:

  • I lost 59 pounds! FIFTY-NINE pounds.  That’s like walking around with seven one-gallon jugs of milk. More realistically, that’s 236 McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with cheese. Put in the most dramatic terms, that’s an entire chunky second grader. At the end of my last session with the trainer, he made walk around the track (and up and down a flight of stairs!) with a sixty-pound dumbbell to remind me what I weighed twelve short weeks ago. Crazy.

I know you’re not supposed to weigh everyday and obsess over the scale, but I’ve actually grown quite fond of the huge scale in the basement of the Healthplex, and not just because it goes all the way up to 600 lbs., so I feel like a lightweight. It’s been very informative to check in everyday and see a direct correlation between the number on the dial and how disciplined I may or may not have been the previous day.

But it’s not all about losing weight; it’s about being healthy. In my particular case, the weight lost is the most dramatic metric, but there’s definitely some more good news when you look at my blood work.

  • My cholesterol – which was not terrible to begin with – dropped 15 points (apparently I have really good genes).
  • My triglycerides were at 210, but they’re down to 144, nicely in the normal, healthy range.
  • My fasting glucose levels were on the upper edges of the normal scale, but they’re back down to smack dab in the middle.

But wait, there’s more!

  • My resting heartrate dropped 10 beats per minute.
  • My resting blood pressure dropped back into the normal range.
  • My grip strength in the right hand went from 118 lbs. to 125, and  from 80 lbs. in the left to 100.
  • In May, the trainers had me do as many chest presses at a given weight as a I could before giving out, and I pooped out at 23. Last Wednesday I did the same exercise at the same weight and quit at 70 reps because time was short and we had to move to the next test.
  • I’ve increased 20-40 lbs. on every weight machine at the Healthplex
  • My flexibility (toe touches, various silly looking things and poses the trainers made you do) increased dramatically. Try this one at home: lay on your stomach and raise your legs and arms into the air. I lasted all of 15 seconds in May, and this time around they had to tell me to quit at a minute.

And finally:

  • Seven inches off my hips
  • Four inches off my chest
  • Six inches off my arms
  • Eight inches off my thighs

There’s still a lot of work to be done, but it was a pretty great feeling to fasten the airplane seat belt without and extended.

Oh, and I walked a 5K two weeks ago averaging 3.4 mph, something that would have seemed insane this time last year. I kept track of how many miles I walked at the Healthplex and in three months I walked 161 miles (another competitor walked well over 300 miles).

I think it’s important to point out that beyond all the positive numbers, I actually had fun. I enjoyed my time working with each of my trainers, and I began to develop fun back stories for people I would regularly see while working out. And when you know what you’re doing, working out doesn’t have to make you sore. Just like any other sport, it can be fun. The other Healthy Challengers are all great people, and it was fun going through this experience together. I also got to expand the Brian Koonce Media Empire from simply print and web to radio and TV. What’s next? Billboards? Bus bench advertising? A BrianON.com commercial during the Super Bowl?


Friday night I was announced as the official Healthy Challenge winner for the summer, but I couldn’t care less. Sometimes cliched things really are true and this is one of those cases: regardless of someone saying I was the winner, I’d call my changed body and attitude a win any day. Of course, since the prize for being the official Healthy Challenge winner is a free year’s membership at the Healthplex, I’m not going to complain.

As difficult as this summer felt at times – the pizza delivery guy probably thinks I’m mad at him – I’m sure the next few months are going to be rough. I won’t have the accountability each week of the official weigh-ins and nutrition classes. I was able to eat healthy and be discipline these last three months because I knew there was an end in sight. But now that I’ve had a taste of success and can see that dropping 59 more pounds, heck 109 more is a long-term possibility, I’m willing to keep going.

I say all this not to brag (that’s not entirely true, I am bragging a little bit), but to ask you to keep me accountable and encourage me as I keep working toward the goal of being a healthier and better Brian. At first I was a little embarrassed and annoyed by everyone at work and the Healthplex constantly cheering me on, but after a while I realized it was making a difference in my attitude and was a key in my success. I still have a very, very long way to go before I can be satisfied, but I like to think this has been a jump start on the road to something very very good.

Here’s hoping that a year from now I can brag about running a 5K, having to poke seven more new holes in my belt (lets face it, I should just break down and buy a new belt) and losing a chunky sixth – no, let’s say seventh –  grader!

I feel obligated to put in one more plug for the Healthplex Fitness Center, because they gave me a tremendous gift this summer. You can talk about how I did all the work, the magic was inside me all along, blah blah blah but the bottom line is that they gave me an opportunity and incentive. For me, that was the difference. It’s really is a great place to work out, too. It’s not just a gym; it’s a very comfortable and easy going place where anyone can workout without feeling judged, too old, too weak or too fat. If they make me feel like I belong and that I can change my lifestyle, they should be able to help you with their eyes closes and both hands tied behind their backs. 


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