The Power of the Human Spirit

Posted: January 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

I have always been inspired by people who completely commit themselves to transforming their lives.  Kris Charleston is a Marathon Coalition runner training for the 2017 Boston Marathon in support of Tufts Medical Center.

This is his story…

A Marathon Journey To A Healthier Lifestyle

Richard Price-The Grafton News

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Eleven months ago he weighed 296 pounds and couldn’t fit into the rides at Disney World. But now, Kris Charleston is well on his way to hitting his fitness goal in time for a 26 mile, 385-yard jog in April called the Boston Marathon. In this week’s edition, read how he said goodbye to fast food and snacks, said hello to healthy eating and discovered how smartphone apps counted his calories. It started somewhere in the Magic Kingdom. Last February, Kris Charleston was at Disney World with his family when he found himself in an embarrassing predicament because he was too heavy to fit in some of the rides. It was time for a change he told himself.

And it probably wasn’t easy to start in a place where meal plans can include unlimited soft drinks and ice cream bars shaped like Mickey Mouse.

But at 5 foot 10 inches and weighing 296 pounds, the Grafton man believed it was time. His first goal: shed enough weight in time for a follow-up vacation to Disneyland in September.

“In March, I started walking and running seven days a week along with limiting my calories to 1,700 per day,” Charleston, 42, said on a fundraising page. “At first it was difficult to go a mile each day, but I was not willing to give up and pushed myself. After two months, I was running two miles. As my weight dropped and my fitness increased my speed, stamina, and distance also increased. By September, I had dropped 70 pounds, felt amazing and could easily run eight to 10 miles.”

Disneyland, he said, was a success.

Weight loss and physical fitness is a common goal for many, especially as a New Year’s resolution. According to a survey by the Statistic Brain Research Institute, the number one goal in 2017 is to lose weight and eat healthier.

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According to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey more than two in three adults are considered overweight or obese. Many factors can lead to weight gain including genes, eating habits, how and where people live, attitudes and emotions, and life habits and income, the National Institutes of Health reported. Those overweight and obese are also risk factors for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other health problems, the study said.

With Disneyland under his slimmer belt, Charleston needed another goal to keep going. Although not an athletic type, he decided to train for the Boston Marathon and fundraise for Tuft’s Medical Center to support clinical care, patient support, and research.

With Disneyland under his slimmer belt, Charleston needed another goal to keep going. Although not an athletic type, he decided to train for the Boston Marathon and fundraise for Tuft’s Medical Center to support clinical care, patient support, and research.

It wouldn’t be easy. As a regional director for Provider Northeast, which offers information technology services to hospitals, he needs to travel extensively, sitting for hours on planes, and eating in restaurants.

But he persevered. Charleston has lost 91 pounds, saying the first 70 “went fast, but the last 21 went like molasses.”

To prepare for the race, he is following a rigorous schedule with Coach Rick Muhr from the Marathon Coalition. Charleston runs four days a week and cross trains for an additional two. He said he runs three miles on Mondays, four miles on Tuesday, cardio and elliptical training plus upper body exercises on Wednesday, a seven mile run on Thursday, weight lifting and core exercises on Friday, and a 10 mile run on Saturday. His running goals have been growing weekly so that by spring he has the stamina to run the Marathon.

“You don’t need the gimmicks,” he said. “Just make changes that make a difference.”

He is also following a more rigid diet. He used to consume about 4,000 calories but is now down to 1,700, cutting out fast food, sugary drinks and other empty calories. The biggest shocker, he discovered were chocolate milkshakes. “It’s my weakness,” he said. “But it has 1,100 calories. You have to consume a lot of crap to maintain a weight of 296 pounds.” He said his waist was 56 to 58 inches; now it’s 34. “My clothes fit more comfortably,” he said. “I don’t look like this huge guy anymore.”

But figuring out the right food to eat was one of his biggest challenges, he said. To help, he downloaded two smartphone apps: MyFitnessPal and Sparkpeople, both which store millions of foods on its database and enables him to see a breakdown of not just calories consumed but also nutritional data such as fat, sugar and sodium. He also uses them to track his exercise programs.

“It records everything I eat,” he said, which can be as easy as scanning a bar code on the package.

Charleston said modifying the food he loves is also important. An egg lover, one of the first things he did was to stick to just egg whites in the morning with sauteed spinach to make it appealing. Charleston also eats light, about 100 calories, followed by a bigger lunch that might include a homemade grilled chicken salad or a trip to Chickfil A for their grilled market salad, without the creamy dressing. “Get the light balsamic vinaigrette,” he said. Dinner is a larger meal, he said, which can include fish, shrimp or chicken, all with a vegetable side.

He admits curbing the craves to eat snacks is challenging, but he found drinking more water and chewing sugar-free gum helps as well as not stocking his kitchen with empty calories.

But how did he survive the holidays with the all the pies, cookies and large meals? Luckily, he said, his side of the family is from Texas, so there wasn’t much pressure, but he also had a practical answer. “Don’t deny yourself of every little thing,” he said. “You are going to want pumpkin pie sometimes. But if you do, run an extra 30 minutes or don’t eat much later.”

For more information on Charleston’s fundraising page, visit http:// www.teamtuftsmc.org/krischarleston.

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