Doug Heise…before and after
MENDOTA – Someone calling you the biggest loser usually is not a positive comment. That is unless they are referring to your weight loss.
Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 69 percent of U.S. adults age 20 years and over are overweight or obese. Carrying extra pounds means extra health risks. Obesity-related health conditions include heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and some cancers, to name a few.
Despite the health risks, losing the added weight is a struggle for many Americans. It is oftentimes a lifelong battle. So when someone becomes a big loser, as in weight loss, they also become an inspiration for others battling their own weight issues.
Dan Heise of Mendota has become one of those inspirations.
Friends, family and community members have watched him on his journey and seen his transformation.
Weighing over 470 pounds in February 2013, Heise realized that he needed to do something. He set out on the long, hard journey, and as of today, he has lost 189 pounds.
Heise had the opportunity to share his journey with The Biggest Loser’s Jillian Michaels at the Peoria Civic Center this year. “It was great to have her congratulate me, tell me how great I was doing and how proud she was of me in front of a full crowd. Afterward, people came up to me, too, and congratulated me,” he recalled.
What made the experience even greater was this time he could comfortably sit in the seats – the same seats he barely squeezed into a year prior.
To celebrate his success so far, Heise decided to compete in The Biggest Loser Half Marathon in Rockford on June 14.
Heise has not been on this journey alone, nor would he complete the half marathon alone.
His family has been very supportive. Many have even started their own weight-loss journeys because of him. “They might not have lost as much as I have, but they are losing and that is a win,” Heise said. “People I love and care about are now getting healthy.”
By the time of the race, 10 other family members, including Heise’s two children, and family from New Mexico and Wisconsin decided to join him on the 13.1-mile walk.
Prior to the walk, Heise said he was excited and nervous. “I walk eight to nine miles a day but it is broken up, so to have to walk 13 miles consecutively is going to be tough and difficult.”
Most importantly, Heise was looking forward to doing something he never thought he would be able to do.
“They finished in just under four hours. We are so proud,” stated Heise’s wife, Denise, after the walk.
At an expo the day before the race, Heise also had the opportunity to meet past The Biggest Loser contestants, Dan Evans, Season 5, and Bobby Saleem, Season 15, and once again share his inspiring story.
Heise recalled what it was like to be obese. “I remember going to Disney World in February 2013. It was very difficult to go on the rides. My kids wanted to ride with me but the rides that I did fit on left no room for anyone to sit with me.”
He hopes to return to Disney World again, this time riding all the rides and riding them with his children next to him.
Although Heise tried to make the best out of everything, he said he could never really enjoy himself in life. Would he embarrass his children? Would the chair he sat in hold his weight?
“If we wanted to go out to the movies, we had to go to Rockford because I didn’t fit in the seats at the Peru theatre.”
Now, Heise does not have those issues. “I don’t even think about those things anymore,” he added.
Just how did Heise lose all that weight?
Hard work… determination… perseverance.
Once a clothing size 6x, Heise now wears a 2x.
“I eat six to seven small meals, eat 120-150 grams of protein, limit my carbs to 40 grams a day and I try to drink a gallon of water or unsweetened tea,” he said.
Add to that, Heise walks every day, bikes and does a cardio yoga program.
Heise also had a procedure that removed 80 percent of his stomach. “I struggled with that decision for the longest time, thinking it was the easy way out.”
What Heise has come to realize is the surgery was just a tool to help him succeed. All the hard work and healthy eating he still had to do himself. “None of this would be possible without me changing my mindset and looking at food differently,” he said.
When Heise looks at food now, he asks himself, “How is this going to benefit my body? Is it going to give me the protein that I need to build muscle and lose the weight?”
“My family has been very supportive and constantly encouraging me, too” he said.
Does he think he can sustain the weight loss? “This is a lifestyle I can continue because I feel so great,” he commented.
Now that The Biggest Loser Half Marathon is over, Heise has set a new goal. “I want run the Mendota Sweet Corn Fest’s Cornapolooza 5K with my kids – and not walk at all,” he said.
Heise’s journey is not over. “When I look in the mirror and can say ‘OK, that’s good,’ then I’ll stop,” he said.
Until then, he plans to continue to work off the extra pounds. He knows that he cannot return to his old habits, but that he must maintain his new lifestyle and make healthy choices daily. The road has not been easy. Heise works two jobs, attends all of his children’s activities, and still eats healthy and makes time for exercise. “I tell people, if I can do it, anyone can do it.”