Friday, December 19, 2014

Mayor targets 50 pounds in weight-loss challenge

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 1/23/2013

Blake Jorgensen said he always has had an appetite for competition.

The Ottawa mayor said that competitive nature has fed into his desire to shed 50 pounds in 2013.

Blake Jorgensen said he always has had an appetite for competition.

The Ottawa mayor said that competitive nature has fed into his desire to shed 50 pounds in 2013.

“I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life,” Jorgensen said.

Since tipping the scales at 240.6 pounds a few weeks ago, Jorgensen said, he has lost 14.6 pounds, weighing in Tuesday at 226 pounds.

“My original goal was to lose 30 pounds, but my doctor told me I should adjust my goal to 50 pounds,” Jorgensen said, laughing. But kidding aside, he added: “I am taking this challenge to lose weight seriously.”

Jorgensen said his ability to shed nearly 15 pounds started in December when he decided to cut out the three cans of Diet Coke he had been drinking every day. 

“You would be surprised how much difference cutting out pop, even diet pop, makes,” Jorgensen said.

He also said he’s making smarter decisions about what to eat and how much to eat.

“I haven’t been starving myself — just making healthier food choices and using the Weight Watchers point system [to monitor calorie intake],” Jorgensen said.

A vice president and commercial lender at Great Southern Bank, 2040 S Princeton St., Ottawa, Jorgensen said he has not folded an exercise regiment into his weight-loss push yet, but he said that would be his next step. 

Jorgensen said he has started doing things to increase his activity, like parking his car at the far end of the bank’s lot to make a longer walk into work, and performing maintenance projects around the house. 

“I’m trying to stay more active, instead of vegging out in front of TV,” he said.

Jorgensen’s simple move to develop a longer walk into work is in step with advice given to patients by Brenda Pfizenmaier, a clinical dietician and certified diabetes educator with Ransom Memorial Hospital, 1301 S. Main St., Ottawa. Pfizenmaier said in a recent interview that one of her diabetes patients lost 170 pounds, and it started with the simple task of walking back and forth to her mailbox each day.

“I tell the patients to keep it simple,” Pfizenmaier said. “Cut portion sizes, drink more water and exercise. It’s amazing how just losing five to 10 pounds can make a big difference.”

Pfizenmaier recommended several websites to learn more about a healthful diet and exercise:

•, which helps people track the foods they eat and set calorie goals.

•, which has a calorie counter.

•, which people can access with their smartphones to map their routes or track distances and calories burned while walking. 

Jorgensen said he has noticed a difference in his energy level since losing nearly 15 pounds.

“I have more energy, and don’t feel nearly as sluggish,” he said. 

Jorgensen took his quest to lose weight to a new level earlier this month when he organized a team of city officials to participate in the Governor’s Weight Loss Challenge.

Jorgensen said his wife, Kelly Jorgensen, is on a Kansas Department of Health and Environment weight-loss challenge team in Topeka. 

“Kelly forwarded me an email about the governor’s challenge, and I saw Anderson County [government] was participating, so I decided to put a team together,” Jorgensen said. 

The mayor told audience members during the First Friday Forum Jan. 4 at Washburn Towers, 526 S. Main St., Ottawa, that he and four other city government officials —  Richard Nienstedt, city manager, Bob Bezek, city attorney, and city commissioners Sara Caylor and Linda Reed — had agreed to form a team to participate in the statewide challenge. He told the forum audience his group had come up with a team name: Reducing Ottawa Government.

“I’m looking forward to you seeing less of me in the future,” Jorgensen told the audience.

Gov. Sam Brownback announced the team weight-loss challenge Nov. 27 to encourage Kansans to work toward reducing the state’s obesity rate.

“Nationwide — and in Kansas — more than two-thirds of adults and almost one-third of children are overweight or obese,” Brownback said in announcing the challenge. “My hope is that the Governor’s Weight Loss Challenge will encourage everyone to work together to make our state healthier.”

The challenge, scheduled from Jan. 15 to May 15, will encourage people employed by the state to form teams of five and go against Brownback and his team to see which team, collectively, could lose the most weight in that time period. Local elected officials, businesses and organizations across the state also were encouraged to put teams together.

In early January, Jorgensen, who also is participating on a team at Great Southern Bank, encouraged other city employees and local businesses and organizations to form teams.

“Even if they didn’t sign up for a team, I would encourage anybody to set a goal and work on their own,” Jorgensen said.

Jorgensen said his competitive nature is what led him to talk in a public setting about his goal to lose weight.

“Making it public in front of citizens was just a little added incentive to meet my goal,” he said.

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