Tipping the scales at a staggering 206 pounds, 11-year-old Mason Harvey could have served as the poster child for American obesity. He led a sedentary lifestyle, required the use of a prescription inhaler and paid little attention to his caloric intake.
Concerned with his health and dissatisfied by his appearance, the Guthrie youth, now 12, took matters into his own hands. He replaced the junk food and carbonated beverages in his diet with fruits, vegetables and other nutritious fare. Today, Harvey is down to a healthy 121 pounds.
“I still like to eat, just not as much as I used to,” Harvey said recently. “I started to look at what I ate, how much I ate and when I ate it. I came up with the motto ‘Small steps plus smart choices equal big changes,' and it's how I live my life today.”
Harvey also has discovered the benefits of being active. He's gearing up for the Midnight Streak, a nighttime 5k run that's a fundraiser for City Arts Center. This year's run begins at 11 p.m. Saturday at State Fair Park with festivities running from 9 p.m. to midnight. “Cool-er Runnings” is the theme for the 2012 Midnight Streak. More than 1,000 runners are expected to participate.
“Last year, I just did the 1k Fun Run, so it's taken a while to build up to the 5k,” Harvey said. “I no longer have to stop every five seconds to breathe. I am going to complete it and show people that you can have fun doing it.”
As part of his new regimen, Harvey put together a list of things he hopes to accomplish, all relating to 85, the number of pounds he's lost. Harvey hopes to meet 85 important people who will help tell his story; host or attend 85 events that will promote awareness about childhood obesity; work out in 85 gyms; and help or inspire 85 kids who are facing similar challenges.
“I've met Jared Fogle (spokesman for Subway sandwich shops) and two people from ‘The Biggest Loser.' I don't know how many kids I've inspired, but reaching out to them is cool. I think it's more impactful when kids reach out to kids.”
People who have lost a significant amount of weight agree that just as their weight gain was gradual, it's foolish to think that success will happen overnight. Diet and exercise will yield results, but once the weight has been lost, you can't revert to old habits. It takes a lifestyle change to keep the weight off.
“Losing 85 pounds took work, and it happened one step at a time,” Harvey said. “Take it slow and easy at first, and as you start adjusting, push a little harder. Each day try to make a smart choice and then gradually make more. I'm glad I chose to do this because now I feel so much better about myself.”
For more information, check out Mason Harvey's website at www. strivefor85.com. Information about City Arts Center's Midnight Streak is available at http://cityartscenter.org.
I still like to eat, just not as much as I used to. I started to look at what I ate, how much I ate and when I ate it. I came up with the motto ‘Small steps plus smart choices equal big changes,' and it's how I live my life today.”