Lean and Green

Chris Cole has loved Northern Kentucky University since he was five years old. Cole received his B.A. in Journalism in 1999, a Master of Public Administration in 2004, and finally his Juris Doctor from Chase College of Law in 2009. He has also been the Director of Media Relations and Communications since 2001.

Cole has had a lot of opportunities come his way and nothing could stop his ambition. From being the sports information director at University of Missouri-St. Louis, to becoming assistant commissioner for media relations and championships for the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Cole is managing to overcome his biggest challenge yet: his weight.

By getting involved with NKU’s new Lean and Green campaign, which begins Sept. 27 and ends Nov. 5, Cole hopes to inspire others struggling with weight and trying to stay healthy as well.

Q: I know you have been many places with other jobs and you have worked in media for certain organizations. What made you come back to NKU?
A: I grew up in northern Kentucky. I wanted to work here when I graduated, but there weren’t any jobs. So I lived in Colorado for a year and St. Louis for about four months. It took months to come to fruition, but I came back here and was a writer for five months. Then I became the spokesperson (for NKU) about a year and a half after I graduated.
Q: And during this time in Colorado and St. Louis, did you feel that your weight kept you from certain opportunities or activities?
A: I never really thought about that, but definitely. I lived at the base of Pike’s Peak and I rarely went hiking in the mountains. It definitely inhibited what I wanted to do. I may go back there now that I can do some hiking and enjoy it. When I was bigger I was always tired and sore and didn’t feel like doing things.
Q: I know your battle with your weight came at an early age. How was your childhood because of this?
A: I started getting big when I was 5 or 6. As I got older, there was less and less riding bikes and playing outside and more and more video games and inside-the-house type stuff. I wasn’t a recluse or anything like that, but I definitely didn’t get out very much as I got bigger and bigger. High school was rough at times. I was in with sort of the popular kids but at the same time, high school kids can be mean.
Q: I know that you constantly worked out at NKU to lose the weight. What else did you do? Tell me about any life-changing habits.
A: Mixed martial arts, I run, I do Muay Thai, swim, stuff that I never would have thought about doing before, doing the stuff that Lean and Green is all about. I have lost about 140 pounds. It fluctuates, really, anywhere between 140 to 145 pounds. I’ve lost an average of 3.3 pounds a week for 43 straight weeks.
Q: Did you use Weight Watchers or anything?
A: I didn’t use any formal program, no specific diet. When I started out I didn’t know what I was doing. I just went to the Campus Recreation Center and really all I could do was the stationary bike. I started cutting out snacks between meals and then gradually went to eating less when I had my meals and then it became eating healthier stuff and less of it. Now I eat a lot of whole foods, a lot of fruits and vegetables.
Q: You’re the weight loss champion. Did you get that title from the contest with the co-worker you had?
A: Probably. I didn’t create that name. I saw a co-worker challenge a friend of his that works in the Rec Center to a 20-pound weight loss. I said, ‘Hey I want in on this. Can we make it a three-way challenge?’ We decided to do a two-way 40-pound challenge. That was the first one I did and I beat him. Another one was with a guy from our IT department. It was a challenge to see who could burn the most calories in the month of August at the gym. He kicked my butt on his elliptical machine burning 61,000 calories. I burned 48,000.
Q: Have you ever lost a great amount of weight and then put it back on? Fell off the wagon, so to speak?
A: I lost 80 pounds on the Atkins diet and put 95 back on. I lost 60 or 70 pounds in six months. There was no way I could sustain that diet. I wasn’t getting enough variety and it was having negative health effects. I approached it from the standpoint of losing weight. And now I approach it as I want to be healthy.
Q: I know you said you are currently running 5Ks. What is your ultimate marathon goal?
A: I haven’t done a marathon yet, but I’m going to. I do 5k at the gym to plan and test myself. I would love to be able to do the Flying Pig Marathon next year.
Q: The full one? Twenty-six miles?
A: I don’t know whether I’m going to be able to be there or not, but I can definitely give it a shot; if nothing else, the half marathon. But that’s something I would like to do.
Q: Is that your ultimate marathon goal?
A: There’s a bicycle race across Iowa that’s about 500 miles. When I started riding the bike every day and was going 30 to 40 miles in one session, I thought, ‘It’s only 60 miles a day, I can maybe do that.’ I would love to do it in summer of 2011.
Q: What made you want to get involved with this Lean and Green campaign?
A: I like the fact that it’s not just about losing weight but about being healthy and earth friendly. It is a weight-loss campaign but people that are already at a healthy weight can still participate.
Q: Any advice for those struggling?
* Make changes that are sustainable.
* Find foods that are healthier that you enjoy and taste good to you.
* I cut soda out completely. I drink water 99 percent of the time now.
* Don’t get overwhelmed. There are so many factors that you can worry about but I’ve tried to keep it limited. I started off looking at calories, sodium and fiber and now I look at a bit more (ingredients).
* For working out, get comfortable, new good shoes.
* It’s really about changing your lifestyle. It’s about making more good decisions with food than bad.
* If you are in a position to see a doctor before you start a weight-loss and workout plan you should do that. Don’t increase the risk of injuring yourself at the gym.
* You can’t tip-toe into something like this. You have to invest yourself in it and be fully committed.
* Support is critical. Share your weight-loss plan with your family and friends.
* Mix up your workout routine so you keep your body guessing.

By getting involved with Lean and Green, you can earn points for being healthy and earth friendly and attend Lean and Green events. To register, go to the Student Union lobby Sept. 21-23 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to receive a prize bag, tracking booklet and a first weigh-in. Like Chris , you could be the next “weight-loss champion.”  For more information, go to http://wellness.nku.edu.