LIFESTYLE

Weight loss changes life for Larry Witmer

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Larry Witmer's waist size went from 46 to 34 after his 100-pound weight loss. He recently visited Antrim Township Community Park to run five miles and then bike 15 miles.

Larry Witmer of Mercersburg recently became a smaller man, which gave him royalty honors. He was recognized in May as the TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) Pennsylvania State King for a 63 pound drop in 2011 while a member of Greencastle TOPS 1003. Overall, he lost 100 pounds to his goal weight of 190 on a 6-foot 2-inch frame, meeting some success on his own before joining the support group.

In July he represented the state at International Recognition Days in San Diego. A Canadian was crowned international king for a 203 pound loss from his starting weight whenever he joined his club. Witmer was also recognized in the October 2012 Tops News magazine.

Witmer, 50, adopted a lifestyle change after he realized his yo-yo pattern of losing and gaining was not working. He had even peaked at 325 pounds in 2005, and lost a huge amount of weight on a crash diet, but felt weak afterwards. Four years later most of the weight was back. He stopped exercising and ate for comfort. It was not a happy time.

"I knew if I wanted to be around for my family, I needed to make changes," he said.

He returned to eating healthy and exercising regularly.

"Cutting back on portion sizes is a big thing. I use food as fuel. When you're hungry, eat healthy. When you're not hungry, don't stuff yourself for no reason."

Witmer admitted that his activity at work was not real exercise. A partner at B&W Plumbing and Heating, the physical labor wasn't challenging enough to be effective. His outdoor endeavors were and continue to be. Every morning he runs up to five miles. Some days he alternates with biking. Some days it's both. During the San Diego convention he ran seven to 10 miles daily. His longest run ever was 14 miles and cycling was 50 miles. At the Greencastle Relay for Life in May he walked 27 miles and ran 13 on the high school track during the 24-hour event.

The family is right beside him with new habits. His wife Lucy has lost 35 pounds in TOPS, and his daughter Tonya Payne, 26, has lost 45. They both  picked up running as well, though not quite as far.

Witmer noted a pro and a con to his new shape. Health insurance premiums dropped significantly since his rating slid from obese to elite super preferred. But now at work he can wiggle into the tight spaces his partner used to have to enter.

He is committed to the Tuesday night TOPS meetings at Antrim Assembly of God Church. The weigh-ins keep him accountable. He would like more men to join the club.

"The sad thing is, there are so many obese people," he rued. "You gotta want it for yourself. Until you come to that point, it's not gonna happen."

He acknowledged that weight loss was 95 percent mental. He appreciated that TOPS let members choose their own plans, but encouraged them along the way.

For Witmer, inspiration comes from the workouts that give him a high and the proper eating that makes him feel good.

"It's definitely a lifestyle change."