I am Chad Harnisch. I am 6’2” tall and I weigh 381 pounds. From the ages of 12 to 21, that was pretty much how I was introduced. Name, height, weight. I was a successful high school football player, and for a goodly percentage of my life, one of my goals was to get bigger. Then I went to play college football (unsuccessfully) and big became huge.
Now, I am high school principal in northern Wisconsin and huge has become obese. There are no easy answers to how someone gets to be 381 pounds. There’s a combination of factors involving psychology (stress eating), metabolism (purposely gaining weight for 10 years), lifestyle (sedentary), and genetics (everyone says I look exactly like my grandfather). I’m sure my wife, Michelle Swader, (my partner in this project “40 by 40”) could add a few other factors as well.
At the end of the day, however, all of those factors add up to this: tomorrow, August 17th, 2012 my BMI (Body Mass Index) will be 48. 4. Michelle will likely share with you what my BMI should be, were I to be considered healthy. What I’ll tell you is that tomorrow, August 17th, 2012, I am celebrating my 39th birthday, and I am sick of feeling bad. A brief overview of my physical ailments would include: out-of-control high blood pressure, diabetes, damage to at least 5 of my spinal discs, ankle and knee joint pain, chronic shortness of breath and a slightly enlarged heart.
In the last few years, a number of people important to me have died prematurely. For a while now, every time I look in the mirror, I think about all of the years those people are cumulatively missing, and about how many years I am likely throwing away by not changing my lifestyle, and I can barely face my reflection. The years I am giving away, others would gladly take, to finish college or raise a child or bounce a grandchild on a knee. The sure knowledge of that potential waste, combined with the health difficulties, has convinced me that it is past time to make substantive change.
So, the “40 by 40” project! My goal is to lower my BMI to 40 by August 17, 2013. (To do that, I will need to lose over 65 pounds.) I am working with Michelle in multiple ways on this project. First, she is my wife and loves me and wants me to be around for a long, long time. Second, she is a registered dietician, with specific knowledge and skills that can help me in my quest. Third, she is a fantastic cook, and because she is “under-employed” at the moment, she has time to be a personal chef, of sorts. Lastly, she is a novice blogger, which will allow us to both publicize my goal and my progress, but also share with the world the process of going really fat to just fat.
We’ll be doing this without fad diets or surgery or drugs. My goal is to do this under the care of my dietician in a healthy way and to share the process with others so that they may be inspired to try to make similar changes. I know it will not be easy. I have tried and failed before. Over the course of the next 12 months, we will share our successes and our failures, our triumphs and our frustrations. Hopefully, I will hit “40 by 40.” When I do, I will set a next goal, and a next goal, and a next goal, until I hit my 80th birthday. (Then I am going back to buttering my steak!!)