75-lb. weight loss puts spring in Frey's step
Henry Maxwell Elementary
Sam Frey always considered himself healthy.
Despite a lifelong battle with his weight, the Henry Maxwell Elementary assistant principal maintained normal blood pressure and cholesterol ranges and had no weight-related aches or pains.
But a little more than a year ago, at 335 pounds, Sam noticed a change.
“I was getting winded very easily,” he says. “I knew I was in bad shape.”
His father was around 400 pounds when he died, and Sam knew his own extra baggage was beginning to take a toll. Besides, a trip to Disney World loomed in his family’s plans.
“I didn’t want to slow them down,” he admits.
It was time, he decided, for lasting change.
In September 2017, instead of launching into a strict diet like he had in the past, he turned to the MNPS Employee Wellness Center at Berry Hill. There he found a cadre of advisers to guide and motivate him. He worked out regularly with fitness associates, consulted with a staff nutritionist, and even turned to the center’s chiropractor for relief when hours of sitting at work took a toll on his lower back. None of this came at any extra cost to him.
Based on his team’s feedback, Sam took a more moderate approach to eating, reducing carbohydrates and adding more vegetables to his meals. To keep his motivation up, he allowed himself the occasional splurge.
“If I want to go out for beer and pizza now and then, I go out for beer and pizza,” he said. “If I want a doughnut, I have one. I just don’t eat them every time.”
The approach is working. Sam is down 75 pounds and still losing. He’s able to get into clothes he hasn’t worn in years, and on that family vacation to the 40-square-mile Disney World Resort, he had a bounce in his step.
“In the four days we were there, I walked 38 miles, according to my phone app,” he says proudly.
There are still struggles. His workouts dropped off during summer break and his eating was less careful. To his surprise, he continued to lose weight, although more slowly.
When school started again, his nutritionist went over his summer routine and found an explanation: Sam was unknowingly practicing intermittent fasting, which can prompt the body to burn more fat.
“I’m a night owl,” Sam explains. “I would stay up late with my son playing video games, then sleep in. Instead of breakfast, I’d pick up at the midday meal, and then have dinner as normal. The extended period without food causes the body to release a hormone that burns more fat.”
Now he’s back to healthier habits, although he admits it has been hard to get back into a several-times-a-week workout routine.
While his discipline may not be perfect, Sam exhibits a patience that serves him well. He’s happy with a sustainable weight-loss pace of a pound or two a week.
“I didn’t get here overnight,” he concluded. “I won’t get there overnight.”
Sam doesn’t blame his weight problems on a busy job.
“I feel people use time as an excuse for a lot of things,” he says. “But we make time for the things we want to make time for.”
As for weight goals, Sam isn’t aiming for a particular number. Instead, he’ll look for it in the mirror.
“I just want to look good without a shirt on,” he says, chuckling.
A recent picture a friend took at a church event, with his weight around 260, was the first time Sam could see a significant difference. It inspired him to begin pulling together a series of before-and-after photos.
Inspiration seems to be a two-way street. After he enrolled in the Cigna MotivateMe incentive program, he earned a $100 gift card by participating in preventive care and wellness activities. He used it to buy more board games for his collection that he regularly plays with a local group of friends.
Noticing Sam’s progress, a couple of his board gaming buddies have launched their own weight-loss efforts. Now, as they earn victory points on the board, they also discuss ways to reduce their waistlines.
“I think we’ve inspired each other,” Sam said. “It’s nice to have some friends along on the journey.”