UALR employee becomes weight loss winner with employee wellness program

Don O'Donnell

This article is an employee wellness spotlight by UALR Employee Wellness Coordinator Karl Lenser.

Don O’Donnell, a senior project manager in Information Technology Services, was one of the first employees who took advantage of the free body composition testing we offer in the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Employee Wellness Program.

During that test, I provided Don with a good estimate of his body fat percent and provided him with a target weight based upon the amount of lean tissue he had at that time.

Through a carefully crafted diet and exercise routine, Don slowly shed the extra fat pounds and reached his goal when we retested in early April. We discovered he dropped his body fat percentage by 8 percent and lost 30 pounds. A slow and steady pace usually wins the race!

More information about O’Donnell:

Birthplace: Clinton, Iowa.

Education: Bachelor of Science in mathematics and physics from Simpson College and an MBA from Drake University.

Describe your weight loss journey: My journey to lose weight began with my wife, Linda. She started a low carb, high fat eating regimen last August (2015) and lost over 60 pounds by year’s end. She is currently down 100 pounds.

I knew that I could stand to lose some weight myself, so I went on a low carb, high fat diet on Feb. 1 weighing 220 pounds at the time. My goal was to get down to 190 pounds. I reached that goal on April 8 and have been able to maintain it through regular exercise and watching my carbs.

What is your current exercise routine? After seeing some early weight loss, I began working out at the UALR Fitness Center to get into better overall health. I have been working out three days a week using stationary weight machines. This takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour each day.

Were you active during your years growing up? Yes. I have always enjoyed participating in sports. My favorites have been basketball and baseball.

Was there a key event or person that helped get you into working out? Not really. As I got older, I began to experience more recreational sports-related injuries. It was then I realized that if I wanted to stay active, I would need to exercise on a regular basis. Now that I am approaching 70 (68 next month), it is essential to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle.

If you miss a scheduled workout, how do you feel? In some ways, it’s like missing a meal. I feel a little weak and rundown until my next workout. I haven’t found it addictive though. It only feels good when I am done, but the feeling is great! I make it a priority by working out first thing in morning before the day’s activities get in the way.  For me, it’s the only way to stay disciplined.

What is your favorite workout? That would be the one that I just finished. I feel good after completing a workout on the weight machines, because I am able to get a good workout in a short period of time, 10-14 stations in 45 minutes.

What do you like to do when you have free time? I enjoy playing softball and racquetball.

What were the keys to your 30-pound weight loss? Being disciplined while on the low carb, high fat diet. I could not have lost the weight by just working out. It’s too early yet, but I am fairly confident that I can keep the weight off by eating sensibly (eating carbs in moderation). Exercising, however, has improved my physical health and stamina.

How do you feel now compared to five months ago when you started your campaign? I am much more energetic with fewer physical health issues, including muscle cramps, pulled muscles, and other sports-related injuries.

What were your first signs of success? The scale. I weighed myself every day and continue to today now that I am in maintenance mode.

Any advice to those who are definitely serious about weight loss? Do your research. Find someone you know personally that had similar weight loss need and was successful in losing the weight. Even though I believe exercise is important, I would recommend placing your focus on your diet first and incorporate exercise gradually.

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