When Tacoma City Councilman Rick Talbert saw the photo of himself that accompanied his Feb. 3. op-ed piece urging schools to help fight obesity, he cringed.
Because the current chairman for the Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health looked, uh, heavy. “Ouch,” he emailed:
What will it take to have you permanently destroy the photo you used? That picture was 85 lbs ago, before I took my own advice and changed my lifestyle.
You did? I said. How did you do it?
No great secret. I finally accepted that there was no short-cut and the only way to successfully lose weight was to eat healthy and exercise.
I partnered with (Pierce County Councilman) Shawn Bunney and we challenged each other. (Talbert works in the county’s performance audit office.) We worked with a nutritionist to put together a sensible diet, and began an exercise program that literally started with baby steps.
Shawn and I did a 20-mile bike ride last weekend on the Foothills Trail and we got a kick out of the fact just a year ago we felt a great accomplishment in doing a three-mile walk on that same trail.
This has been the best experience for me. There are times when I feel twenty years old again. I’ve gone from feeling hypocritical about passing public policy on obesity issues, to competing in and completing triathlon’s and road races.
I truly believe America’s obesity crisis is our greatest medical concern. Obesity is the second greatest cause of preventable deaths in our country, only tobacco is higher. It won’t be too much longer before obesity passes tobacco in this category.
The Health Department and MultiCare have partnered to provide nutrition and exercise education aimed at middle-school students in a pilot program. The program could only hold 25 students. More than twice that many wanted to sign-up. This is a good first step, but we must do more
You’re doing triathlons? I said.
I ran the Bank to Bay in September. Then I did the Kirkland and Black Diamond triathlons. I’ve done a couple of other smaller road races as well. Losing the weight brought back my competitive nature.
I swam in high school and taught swim lessons and life-guarded through college, so the swim leg of the triathlons comes naturally. That’s the part most people struggle with. I’ve really gotten into biking and the running is where I get to push myself.
I try to run Point Defiance a few times a week and any opportunity to get on the bike I take. I am really looking forward to the Spring when the weather’s better and the day’s are longer.
I am training now for Olympic-distance triathlons. My ultimate goal is to complete the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon. I’ve watched the event on TV. for years and I think it would be a great accomplishment to go from sitting on a couch watching others compete to actually participating in it myself.
Check out Escape From Alcatraz. and tell me if Talbert isn’t nuts. At least he’s a healthy nut. And practices what he preaches.
Next: We ask Bunney – on the record! – which triathlons he’s signing up for. Or is the county executive candidate just running for office?