Losing Big, But Gaining More
One man's journey to weight loss and wellness
Adams County Correctional Center's Brett Bradford enjoys his new physique, but also his new outlook on life.
Thinking about CCA's 30th Anniversary motto, "Our People, Our Passion, Our Partnerships," I think about my "work family." These are the people who I spend a great deal of time with and interact with daily. We share in each other's struggles as well as successes.
There are so many different personalities, yet we all mesh together to work toward a common goal. We have amazing people with great stories of accomplishment, and I wanted to tell you about one of those. Of course, at the start of 2013, many people are stating their New Year's resolutions. My resolution is to get back to the gym regularly, as I did in the past, and that made me think of a particular co-worker.
I met Brett Bradford, assistant shift supervisor at Adams County Correctional Center, in May 2009 as we prepared to open the new facility. He was a very friendly person and assumed the position of our facility disciplinary hearing officer (DHO). At that time, Brett weighed 358 pounds. As time went on, I began to see a shrinking version of him. Today, Brett is nearly half the size he used to be, now weighing in at 204 pounds.
I see Brett as a huge inspiration, not only to those who want to lose weight, but also make a lifestyle changes. I took a minute and sat down with him asking a few questions, and wanted to share his accomplishments and his journey with you.
How did it start?
"One day while eating lunch, I simply tried to eat less. I did this by preparing one sandwich and a bag of chips for lunch. That sounds like a normal lunch for most people, but I normally I had three sandwiches and a "big-grab" bag of chips, not the mini-bag."
Had you tried to lose weight before?
"I had never seriously tried to lose weight before. I never tried to moderate my eating or anything. I simply accepted that I was destined to be "Big Brett" for the rest of my life."
What was the hardest part?
"The hardest part was simply telling myself, 'No, you can't have that,' or 'No, you don't need that.'"
Tell me about the first time you noticed a change in yourself.
"The change happened so gradually that I didn't really pay attention to it. I noticed that I had to put new holes in my 52-inch belt. I also had to make 'pleats' in the waistband of my pants in order for the belt to hold all the extra fabric. I went into medical one evening and decided to check my weight. I stepped on and the scale read 340 pounds – I'd lost 18 pounds, and the only active thing I was doing was cleaning the facility. A few days later, I was down to 322 pounds. By Christmas 2009, I weighed 308 pounds. In the six months after starting at CCA, I lost 50 pounds, and I was overjoyed. My pants size went from 52 to 44."
Describe the little changes that you made.
"My most important little change was simply to walk as far and as often as possible. When going to any store, I would park as far from the door as possible. Also, instead of the slow, casual walk, I made a conscious effort to walk as if I was in a hurry all the time, every time."
What did you get into a routine of doing?
"From July 2009 to about July 2010, I ate small meals (no more than 1,200 to 1,500 calories) per day and never after 7 p.m. I call 1,200-1,500 calories "small" because in order to maintain your body weight, it's generally accepted that you consume your body weight times a factor of 12. For me, that meant 4,256 calories per day at 358 pounds. I was actually not eating enough because it is not recommended to lose more than two pounds per week (one pound of fat translates into 3500 calories or a 500-calorie daily deficit)."
What kept you on track?
"I would have to say that the greatest motivation came from the people with whom I worked. My family was great, but it was the constant praise from people who weren't bound by blood to me (read: required be nice) who were always saying how great I looked and how I was such a positive motivation to them to try to lose weight."
What was your biggest lifestyle change?
"I became a clothes horse. I was in my closet on the first day of 2013 and took stock of my closet. Right now, I have 32 different dress shirts, 18 pairs of dress slacks, eight pairs of jeans, six pairs of casual slacks, seven suits, three sport coats, five overcoats, about 20 polo shirts and 16 pairs of shoes (not counting sneakers)! In comparison to my wife, I really don't have much, but I've been told that I have a little more than the average man. It's bad when you contemplate adding on to your house not because you have more children, but because you need more closet space."
What's been most rewarding?
"The best reward is going in for my annual physical and being told that I'm in great health and that my doctor is envious of me."
What have been the best perks from the changes you made?
"The best is being able to walk into a store and not have to ask what the largest size pants they carry. The second best is wearing a short-sleeved shirt, and I see men staring at my arms and chest, and women staring at my arms, chest and then finally at my face, and smiling."
Can you still indulge?
"Of course. This past Thanksgiving, I gained 10 pounds, going from 207 to 217 in about 10 days. Just before I took my Christmas vacation, I was back down to 204. I haven't checked the damage (weight) yet from Christmas, but I know that I've gained weight because I can see it. I don't really worry about it because I've become something of a fitness fanatic, but I realize that in order to motivate me to continue to run and exercise, I need to have body fat that I want to lose."
What's your advice to those wishing to do the same?
"Just do it. Forget about 'dieting.' Your "diet" is whatever you eat, be it McDonal'ds, Wendy's, vegetables only or snickers candy bars. In order to lose weight, your 'diet' should be whatever you like. You simply need to be willing to eat a much smaller portion of it. I still eat McDonald's, Oreos, cake and candy. I simply don't eat those things very often.
During my weight loss period, McDonald's would sometimes be my meal for the day. Two Big Macs, medium fries and a diet coke equaled 1,540 calories total. As long as I didn't exceed around 2000 calories, I lost weight. Equally important: EXERCISE! Do something! When you walk, WALK! Don't drag your feet. A good pace should have you completing a mile in 15 minutes. Most importantly, do it because you want to do it, not because someone else wants you to look a certain way. In the end, you have to satisfy yourself before you can even attempt to satisfy someone else."
This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Readers should always consult their healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.
January 14, 2013