American Health & Wellness Group Senior Health Coach, Penny Hunsicker sits down and interviews the fantastic Kris Iwamoto of our client, Calderon Textiles.

Penny: Hello Kris! Finally, I am sitting down and able to ask you some questions about your wellness journey. You have given me so much inspiration so I cannot wait to share your story and inspire others as well!

Please remind me of how much you have lost over the past year? I’ve lost 122 pounds total! 98 of that was in the 2017 calendar year.

What inspired you to do the mini marathon? My AHW health coach was the first one that really said I needed to run the mini. I also had encouragement from friends and family. People just made comments like, “If you wanted to run it, you’d finish it.”

Many of my longtime friends were very supportive both in my weight loss and my running. I did a trail run with three friends last fall, which was my first run with others.

Did you have a lot of influence growing up in the areas of health, nutrition and exercise? I didn’t really have a lot of influence in these areas growing up. I was always fairly active, but never “healthy.” I had three siblings, so my parents had enough challenges rearing us. When I quit playing soccer after middle school, for instance, I think they looked at it as a blessing. They had one less activity to schedule around.

Has weight been a struggle most of your life? I have always been overweight.  I foolishly just accepted my weight, so I never thought of it as a struggle. I think that is why I got to be as large as I was. I loved my Mountain Dew growing up!

What inspired you to make a change (your “Aha! moment”)? I lost a few pounds (5 or so) when I started playing Pokémon Go, at my boss’ insistence! And I’m not the only one. I’ve met others who have lost 100+ pounds the same way. For me, it was the motivation that I needed to start and continue (the hard part) exercising. I did not and still do not play from my car. I am legitimately out and walking or running to earn my rewards.

My AHW account manager motivated the change in plate size for me. My AHW health coach was the first that said I really need to run the Mini. Our most recent seminar on massage has come into play for me as my training for the Mini intensifies. I’ve taken bits and pieces from many, if not all, of the wellness seminars.

We always talk about what a big difference small changes make over time in our seminars. Please share some of the small changes you’ve made! I switched from 2% milk to 1% and eventually skim milk.  I started eating from a 6” dinner plate instead of an 8” plate. I cut way back on my simple starch (white rice, pasta, bread, and potato) consumption. Being of Japanese descent, that was a hard change to make.  I used to eat the better part of a pint of rice in one sitting, if not more. I cut that back to one serving. Then I started replacing the white rice altogether with small portions of the different varieties of the Seeds of Change rice packets.  The bag claims that there are two servings per pouch, but I’ll get 4-5 servings out of it. I get enough to satisfy my desire to eat rice.

I’ve also embraced the “eat as many vegetables as you want”! I started going to the summer farmers markets and checking out the produce. Beets were my favorite find! Many people shy away from them, but they’re so sweet when they are roasted. Along with the beets, I eat a lot of salads. To keep them interesting I’ve tried dozens of varieties of dressings, both homemade and store bought. As long as I don’t use too much dressing, I’ll allow myself to use whatever variety I feel like on a given evening.

I also started trying to run! Before I started all of this, I couldn’t run 100 yards without being winded! In a neighborhood near mine, I started trying to run from one fire hydrant to the next. I’d have to walk for the next several hydrants and I’d run to another one. I just kept trying to improve on this. I made the goal to run every other one.  When I got comfortable doing that, I made the goal to run two in a row. And so on. From day one, when I started running, I always made it a point to run up hills! I never ran down hills, and still don’t like to.

What were some of your biggest obstacles? My only real obstacles have been plateaus! Losing the first 25 pounds was easy. Then, I was “stuck” there for about 2-3 weeks. I didn’t gain any weight, but I didn’t lose any either. It was frustrating! When I finally got over that, I hit another one after about another 25 pounds. After that one, they seemed to start to happen more often. I just knew that I’d overcome each one eventually.

I also don’t believe in weighing myself daily. I barely do it weekly! If I have a week in which I’ve gained a pound or two back, I delete that record from my smart scale. I am consistent with when I take my weight.

Have you met your weight goal? I’m 3 pounds from the ultimate goal I set for myself in January of 2017, but I don’t really care about it anymore. This was HUGE for me! When I started losing weight, I set a penultimate weight that I wanted to get to. I never in my dreams thought that I would reach that goal though, so I set a “realistic” goal of losing 25 pounds. When I got to that goal, I set another goal to lose another 25 lbs. After that, I dropped my “expectations” to only another 15 pounds, and 15 after that…then 20, then back to 10, 10, and finally 5. I feel like hitting the intermediate goals was very important, not only for myself, but to be able to boast about the accomplishments and to be able to talk about them.  They also kept me honest. I picked this up from one of the AHW seminars on SMART goals.

Any other notes you would like to share? I don’t believe in giving up my treats! I’ve always allowed myself a “date night” (meal to splurge a little bit) each week.  I’m also a huge fan of sweets. I love Thin Mints and Peanut M&Ms. With the Thin Mints, if I’m going to have some, I have two! If I’m going to have Peanut M&Ms, I’ll have about 5-10. The way I look at it, if I stick to this limit each day that I have a craving for them, I’m going to satisfy that craving. I get it is difficult, but it can be done. Same principal as the rice consumption. And the same goes with my alcohol consumption. All through 2017 I maintained my 5-10 drinks per week. Only this year have I reduced that! Now, I might have 2-4 drinks per week or two.

I’m also very budget conscious. The AHW staff always talks about how it doesn’t have to cost too much to be healthy. Replacing shoes every 3-4 months is costly. Buying new clothes is costly. But again, it can be done. I have learned to save when I can. Street parking at the meters downtown in Indianapolis is FREE on Sundays! I also like to go to Garfield Park and exercise around those grounds and the gardens in the summer. Parking is free there too, year-round.

I also decided that I don’t care about what’s on TV. If I “need” to watch something, it’ll likely be on demand or available streaming. Especially in the warmer months when it was nice outside, I made it a point to be outside and active.

From all of us at AHW, CONGRATULATIONS Kris and good luck this weekend!

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