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Abilene superintendent loses 100 pounds, inspires others

November 28, 2018

ABILENE, Texas (AP) — Meet Dave Young. He used to be David, but thanks to a lifestyle change, he’s a slimmer, fitter version.

The Abilene Reporter-News reports the “i″ and “d″ in his name just slid off his svelte waistline during a recent 10-mile jog on his treadmill.

Thanks to a little bit of motivation, Young — Abilene Independent School District superintendent — is 100 pounds lighter than at the start of 2018.

Young now tips the scales at 216 pounds, compared to 320 in February.

“Joe (Alcorta) had a heart attack last year,” Young said. “I knew he and I are about the same age. That was the event for me. I knew I needed to make a change.

“The rumor was that I’d had surgery. But I don’t have the time for surgery. It was just a lot of hard work.”

In the aftermath of Alcorta’s cardiac episode, Young and a few other AISD central office employees banded together to make a few general changes around the office. Small adjustments, like making sure heart-healthy foods were available, were made.

Young said those changes, for the most part, are already gone, along with Alcorta, who moved from his childhood school district over the summer to become superintendent of the Dalhart ISD.

Young’s success comes down to a combination of his love of numbers and an obsession with rings. The numbers come from his doctor; the rings from the fitness app on his phone.

Young’s journey started in February, when he went to his doctor with a goal in mind. The mission wasn’t to lose 100 pounds, he said. He didn’t even think such a loss would be possible.

“I told (the doctor), ‘I need you to kick me in my shins about my weight,’” Young said. “He looked at me and said, ‘You’re a math guy: 3,500 calories is a pound.’ He gave me a goal to lose a pound a week. But I’m motivated by numbers. I went home and made spreadsheets, graphs.”

For the other numbers people, Young isn’t losing one pound per week. It’s actually about three. Achieving such results means Young is burning 1,500 calories more per day than he’s taking in. And that’s just on average.

His first 40 pounds, he said, came from changing his diet. Gone were the four bacon cheeseburgers each week. Salads at Abuelo’s and weekly lunches at Subway with AISD board President Randy Piersall have taken their place.

Food was a massive issue for Young. But he has worked with a nutritionist to make sure he was consuming the right foods at the right time.

“I’ve always been the guy who when I have food on my plate, I eat it,” Young said. “What I don’t do anymore is eat between meals.”

As he made more of an effort to take care of himself, he noticed a few changes he didn’t expect. Like, arriving to work later than when he was not taking care of himself. And leaving work earlier.

It’s because he wakes up and hits the treadmill. He finishes and begins preparing his breakfast. When he’s done with work, it’s time to go home and make dinner with his wife, Amanda, to make sure he sticks to his plan.

There’s no room for slipping.

They use one of those mail-order food services to have meals delivered. But they do the work turning it into a healthy dinner. Being there, together, is part of his new look at life.

“I get to the office later. I’m going home earlier,” Young said. “But I feel much more productive through the day. And I hope all of this helps me be a better husband, a better father, a better superintendent.”

After Young made it through April with dietary changes and saw the pounds come off, he added walking on his treadmill. Walking soon turned into running. He also added weightlifting to his routine.

Young now routinely doubles up his workouts, thanks to his house’s location in relation to the gym. Planet Fitness is about 2 or 3 miles from where he lives, so he runs to the gym, works out and runs home.

“I lift weights three or four mornings a week,” Young said. “I don’t need to, as the kids say, get swole or anything, but I feel like I’ve done this journey the right way.”

Eleven suits. That’s how many Young donated thanks to his weight loss. The pounds coming off meant he couldn’t keep a pair of pants long enough to actually wear them in.

Even when he doesn’t lose weight, he needs to drill a new hole into his belt as his body continues to covert fat into muscle. The belt has acquired more than enough holes for his wife to demand he just buy a new one.

While Young is enjoying his slimmer waist — “I’m wearing the same pants size I wore in high school,” he said — the slimmer bank account isn’t eliciting the same excitement.

It’s a nice problem to have, he said.

Every month he hits the clothing store for new pants, especially. But with cold weather months here, Young said he’s had to replace all of those clothes, too.

“I bought the same jacket I had been wearing,” Young said, “but instead of 3XL, it’s a large.”

Yes, Young did take a moment before taking his 11 suits to Goodwill to enjoy his progress. Those pants and jackets went on one last time, he said, and it was exactly like those pictures people take after dramatic weight losses. The waist pulls out well beyond his stomach, signifying just how far he’s progressed.

And then they were gone.

While diet has helped Young from the beginning, once he added exercise to his regiment his smart watch and phone application have been the driving force.

Specifically, Young went with My Fitness Pal, an application for his Apple iWatch and iPhone that tracks exercise, food consumption and more.

He said he’s gotten a bit psychotic about making sure each and every day he meets his fitness goals. In the application, they’re rings. Each successful one turns the day green.

Young pulls out his phone and rifles through months of green rings. Except one.

“It haunts me,” he said. “It’s my motivation.”

It’s not Young’s first effort at weight loss.

“There has been a couple times in my life where I’ve been on a diet and lost weight,” he said. “This time it feels different.”

It’s a far cry from someone who used to dread putting his shoes on in the morning because of difficulty reaching his feet.

He’s hoping to simply maintain throughout the holidays this year; to eat enough, thanks to a family that enjoys gourmet cuisine, but not take in more calories than he burns.

For many, it’s hard to do. He’s excited for the challenge.

Young isn’t looking to be an inspiration, but he does recognize his story could help push someone looking to be healthier over the edge into success.

“I don’t want to think I should be inspiring people,” he said. “But what I do think is, ’If I can do it, anyone can do it.”

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Information from: Abilene Reporter-News, http://www.reporternews.com

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