Sweat365 » Lifestyle Changes Yield Big Results!
It’s hard to believe that less than a year ago Peter Engwall tipped the scales at 300 plus lbs. After living a sedentary life for the first 30 something years, Peter decided to do something. Peter shed 142 pounds and is now a slim 190.
He was inspired by watching the reality TV show, “The Biggest Loser.” Oprah and Bob Greene also had a huge impact. Greene is a fitness and nutrition expert, who contributes to O Magazine and has written five best-selling books on healthy living and fitness. Greene trained Oprah for the Marine Corp Marathon and has been working with her ever since.
Greene’s Best Life program is simple and that is what appealed to Engwall. “The program is a lifestyle change, not a diet. You can ease into it, and it becomes natural.”
As a result of the success of his weight loss journey, Peter began getting media attention. People wanted to share his story. Earlier this year Peter was featured in a local newspaper, The Bothell Reporter. He also made feature appearances on The Oprah Show and NW Afternoon. Peter describes himself as Joe Average. Peter is a technology information manager. He is a Kenmore resident and works out at the YMCA in Bothell. This is why I was so excited when he agreed to an interview for Sweat365.Com. Peter shows us that when you move more every day, you can do anything!
Sweat365.Com: Tell me about what prompted you to take on your health and fitness.The short answer is my (now) 5 year old son. I wanted to play with him and not be a lazy dad.
The “long answer” is, well, I was just sick and tired of being lazy, and sick and tired all the time. I had been watching those shows on TV where fat people get skinny, and was thinking to myself, “hey, if they can do it, why can’t I?” and just about that same time I was watching Oprah and saw Bob Greene introduce his Best Life program. That was kind of the light bulb moment. It made sense that in order to lose weight; you don’t need to go on a diet you need to change your lifestyle. “Diets” don’t work; you’ve got to change your life. This made a lot of sense. The way Bob’s program introduces small changes to your life in different stages, made incorporating those life style changes easier. Things like, just start moving, eating breakfast a mid morning snack, lunch, a mid afternoon snack, and dinner. Then stop eating 2 hours before bedtime, as well as introducing vitamins and supplements. These are just some of the things in “Phase 1”. As time goes on getting into “Phase 2”, eliminating 6 foods, increasing your activity level, incorporate weights into your workouts, workout more often, things like that. In other words, little steps to help you change your lifestyle.
What has helped you to stay consistent? Accountability really helped me start out being consistent. On thebestlife.com you’ve got to log your daily progress; things like your food intake and either how many steps you did a day, or how much aerobic activity you did a day. And, at the YMCA using their Fitlinxx program you log your workouts. Having to be accountable means you can’t lie or cheat. If you do, you’re only lying and cheating yourself. All of a sudden I noticed my name on the “Top 100” list at the YMCA! Then as the months went on, I started to climb the ladder, and really liked seeing my name on that board. I wanted to see how high up it could go. Pushing me and increasing activity level/aerobic activity and weights meant I climbed the latter, which was a really good feeling, both physically and seeing the “prize” of my name on the board.
What’s helped me stay consistent now is the fact that I’ve changed my life. I don’t want to go back to being lazy. The feeling I get playing t-ball with my son, or going on bike rides with my wife and son, or just chasing him around the yard is one of the best feelings in the world. I don’t want to give that up. I’ve incorporated working out, sweat, and physical fitness into my life. It’s my lifestyle now.
It sounds like you and your wife took this on together. What are some ways that families can support each other with making lifestyle changes like the one you made? Do it together. It’s really hard to cook 2 meals for dinner, one for her and one for him, (3 or 4 if you’ve got kids). It’s much easier to find things you both enjoy eating and eat them together. Work out together. Even if one person doesn’t “need” to work out, it’s still fun going to the gym as a family. My son loves the Adventure Zone at the YMCA, so on weekends we like to go and he’ll go to the Adventure Zone and my wife and I will work out together, its fun to do things as a team.
Another big thing that has helped my wife and I encourage each other is that we’re not saying “Oh, you shouldn’t have that extra snack,” or “You really need to cut back on the soda” (I don’t drink soda anymore, but you get the idea). In other words, don’t be a nag, be an encourager. Buy her a new smaller size shirt; notice the changes even if they are small ones. Compliment her on how her jeans are too big now and she needs to get smaller ones, (and mean it). Work together to find ways during the week that you both can work out, not necessarily together, but make sure you both can find time during the day to be active.
How has your life changed? In short it is a lot more fun and, it’s a lot easier. I can fit on the rides at Disneyland, I can fit in airplane seats a lot more comfortably, and I can walk up stairs without gasping for air. I can do a triathlon; (hopefully), I can run a race, (hopefully). Life’s Good. I have a lot more self-confidence, I’m not afraid to talk to people, or groups of people, I walk taller, I sit straighter, overall I just feel a lot better. One thing that is hard though, is believing in the fact that I fit into a medium shirt, and a 33×32 pant. Coming from a XXLT shirt and 42×30 pant, I still have trouble seeing myself as being able to fit in a medium. I say to myself, “it’s too small, buy the large” and then when I get home and put the shirt on, my wife says “You bought the large didn’t you, it’s too big.”
When people read your story, how will they be changed? Honestly, I don’t know. I can only hope that they will see a story about “Joe Average” and it will give them a “light bulb moment”. Something clicked in me when I watch Bob Greene, I can only hope something will click for someone when they read or hear about my story. I had to do a lot of soul searching when I was first approached by the folks at thebestlife.com if I would be featured as one of their “success stories”. I wanted to make sure I was doing it for the right reason; if I could inspire 1 person, just 1, then I would be honored to be featured. I didn’t want to do it for the “lime light”. The same goes for everything since then, Oprah, NW Afternoons, sweat365…I can only hope that someday, someone will walk up to me and say “I weighed 275 pounds last year when I saw you in the Bothell Reporter, now I weigh 225. Thank you”…or something like that.
What can they expect if they take the challenge? A lot of hard work, a lot of soul searching, a lot of sweat and some tears, but, you’ve got to move to improve. It’s not easy, you’ve got to stay committed and you’ve got to change your life, but the payoff is well worth it, so worth it. Change is good. Change will take time; do not expect instant weight loss, you didn’t put it on in a day; it’s not coming off in a day. But, time flies when you’re having fun and before you know it, you’ll start seeing little changes in your life, like clothes fitting better or having to buy new clothes because your old ones are too big.
What do they have to look forward to? To name just a few: Fitting in seats more comfortably, riding rides at Disneyland, playing, living life, doing triathlons, not feeling like you’re being stared at when you walk into a restaurant. Having a lot of fun.
What’s it been like for you since you’ve been on Oprah and NW Afternoon? Funny you should ask. At first, people would see me at the grocery store and say, “hey aren’t you the guy from Oprah?” and then the first thing they would do is look in my grocery cart to see what was in it. People would congratulate me, ask me how I did it, wonder what Oprah was like, (awesome by the way), and ask a lot of great questions. Pretty much the same thing after NW Afternoon and the Bothell Reporter but on a lot smaller scale. But overall, life has pretty much stayed the same. I still get to workout, I still get to play.
What has surprised you about your success? My success with weight loss? I think the most surprising thing is how much easier life is, how much more fun it is. I’m certainly living life. One of my friends in college, on our last day of our senior year, as she was headed home to Phoenix said to me, “Always remember to play.” I’ll never forget that. I always thought that I was “playing” but looking back on the years since then I wasn’t playing like I am now, I thought I was playing, now I know I am playing. It’s fun to play. It’s fun to sweat.
Another thing that surprised me quite a bit actually, was how different people treat me now. I used to walk into clothing stores and the clerks would look at me like, “we don’t have anything in your size” and now, they are extremely helpful to find me whatever it is I am looking for. I find it quite interesting.
Given that you’ve been interviewed many times, are there any questions you wished were asked? There are a few questions that I wished people had asked. One is; What does my wife think of all the attention I have gotten? “I dunno, ask her, please.”
I also wish the people had asked me what or who do I appreciate the most? First and foremost my wonderful wife and awesome son and the rest of my family that has been by my side. But I am also grateful to Bob and many people at thebestlife.com for giving me the tools and resources to change my life and start living my Best Life. I’m grateful for the folks at sweat365, (and I’m not just saying that), for giving me the tools, and tips to help me train for my first triathlon and my first race. I’ve found it to be a great resource for the beginner. I’m grateful for the many dear friends I’ve met along the way, like Shelley, the gal from the YMCA that one day, introduced herself and said hello. Like Christina from Seattle who I met on the Oprah show. She’s an amazing friend who we share so much in common with regarding weight loss, I’m grateful to have her as a friend. One thing I appreciate so much is all of the kind words, and words of encouragement that people have shared with me. When someone says “great job”, they really don’t know how much that does mean to me. I appreciate the YMCA so very much for also giving me the tools and support to help me achieve my goals.”
The thing that scares me the most is the epidemic of obesity in today’s society. It begins with the children. Childhood obesity scares the living day lights out of me. We’ve got to do a better job of bringing healthier food/drink choices into our schools, bring better education about health and nutrition into our schools and expand exercise in schools. Places like the YMCA do a fantastic job of offering so many different classes and programs to help educate families about healthy cooking and healthy lifestyles, I’d love to see programs like the Y has incorporated into schools. We’ve got to teach the same things to parents as we do to kids. We can teach something to a child and they can bring it home, but if it is not shared with the parents, or reinforced by the parents, it won’t become part of the child’s lifestyle.
Finally, I’ve said this before many times, but it really hit home with me when I first heard it; “You didn’t put it on in a day, it ain’t coming off in a day”. Weight loss, and changing your life take time, be patient, be committed, seek support it will come off with time and dedication. Also, Bob Greene said this on his website and it just makes so much sense to me; “You’ve got to move to improve”. That’s so right. You’re not going to lose weight by watching TV and eating chips. And as my good friend in college said; “Always remember to play!” Set goals, achievable goals. For example, don’t look at it like I’ve got to lose 100 pounds, or 20 pounds, set achievable goals in smaller increments, like 5 or 10 pound goals, and celebrate them. Or, today I walked for 10 minutes, tomorrow I’ll walk for 11. My favorite was setting mileage goals on the strider, “today I did 2.5, tomorrow what will it take for me to do 2.6”? And make sure you celebrate them!
Sweat365.Com: Tell me about what your future plans…What’s next for you? I’ve set some short term personal goals I’d like to achieve this year. I’ll be running my first race in May, the Beat the Bridge and I’ll be doing my first sprint triathlon, the ChelanMan, in July. (I just found out that my dad and step mom are coming out from Minnesota to watch me do the tri. I’m very excited about that!). Long term future plans, I’m not sure. I know I’ll be playing, I know I’ll continue to work out, eat smart, enjoy life, hopefully become a better dad and a better husband, (there’s always room for improvement, right?) I’m a little nervous that I might actually get “hooked” on running and triathlons, so maybe there will be some more races, and/or tri’s in my future too, (deep down I hope so). We’ll play that one by ear.
Thanks Peter! You are an inspiration to us all!
Check out Peter’s blog at augiesdad.sweat365.com.