Losses of the happy, healthy kind: The Olsons of Layton have reduced their combined weight by 367 pounds

Ed Olson and Lori Olson pose for a photograph taken around Christmas before they started their...
Photo courtesy the Olsons
Story by Jamie Lampros
Mon, Dec 10, 2012
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LAYTON — What weighs 367 pounds?

A black bear. A tiger. An NFL lineman and 1,468 quarter-pound burgers — or the combined weight loss that Ed, Lori and Kyle Olson achieved by changing their lifestyle two years ago.

Ed, 48, is a pharmacist who stands on his feet all day, but was doing little as far as exercise. He had hip pain and acid reflux, and snored at night due to his weight. His mother died at the age of 50 from complications due to diabetes.

Lori, 45, is a homemaker who put everyone else in the family ahead of her own needs. The extra weight around her stomach made breathing difficult, and she couldn’t walk up and down the steps without being short of breath. Her blood pressure and cholesterol numbers were climbing at an unhealthy pace.

At 21, Kyle was always tired and felt very out of shape. Even when he sat down, he felt tired.

“Ed saw Dr. David Kessler on the Bill Maher show, promoting his book, ‘The End of Overeating,’  ” Lori said. “He ordered the book and read it and decided to make some changes in his lifestyle.”

Lori watched the changes her husband was making and decided to try it herself. Their son also decided it was time for changes in his own life.

At the beginning of their weight-loss journey, Ed weighed in at 310 pounds. Lori tipped the scales at 285 and Kyle weighed 245 pounds.

“We started eating whole grains, lean chicken and fish, lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, healthy fats, low sugar and drank 64 ounces of water daily,” the elder Olson said.

Breakfast, for instance, consisted of coffee and oatmeal or steel-cut oats topped with fruit and walnuts. Lunch might be a salad, scrambled-egg substitute with a lot of spinach, veggies and beans mixed in, and a MorningStar black bean soy burger, low-fat soup, or low-sodium, low-fat turkey or chicken sandwich.

Dinner included chicken or fish, lean red meat on occasion, brown rice or whole-grain pasta, and a lot of fresh vegetables.

Hungry for a snack? The Olsons ate fruit, rice cakes with peanut butter, Laughing Cow light cheese, nonfat plain yogurt with fruit mixed in or a small bowl of Grape-Nuts with fruit and almond milk.

The exercise factor

Ed also began walking and jogging. Lori worked out with exercise videos, and Kyle got involved in bodybuilding.

“I eat seven meals a day and go to the gym five days a week,” Kyle said. “I’ve cut way back on junk food of any kind, such as greasy fats and sugary sweets. The number one thing is consistency. It takes a lot of time and effort, and you cannot give up.”

When the family eats out, they choose places such as Subway or Applebee’s that offer low-calorie meals. Lori said there are also some great recipes from “The Dr. Oz Show” and website (www.doctoroz.com), as well as the “Looneyspoons” cookbook.

Kyle said he has a cheat meal once a week so he doesn’t feel denied of some of his favorites.

“The best thing is eating often and finding food that still tastes good,” he said. “It becomes second nature to eat healthy and it becomes easier as time goes by. Plus, my workout partner ... pushes me further than I thought I could ever go.”

Lori said she considers their home the safe zone when it comes to healthy eating.

“I only buy and prepare healthy foods. We talk about our workouts with each other and discuss our positive changes, such as new clothing in smaller sizes, compliments from friends or seeing people we haven’t seen in years and not being recognized,” Lori said.

Over the past 16 months, Ed has lost 140 pounds. Lori has lost 142 pounds and Kyle has lost 85. Their secret is dedication and patience. Starting slow is also important, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking farther away from the door, drinking more water and adding a few extra vegetables to your plate.

Non-scale victories

Write down a list of goals and also keep notes of your non-scale victories, the Olsons suggest.

“The last time I had been to the Energy Solutions Arena, I had a very hard time fitting into the seats and it was very uncomfortable,” Lori said. “This time, there was plenty of room. I was also able to lay my program on my lap and read it. That may not sound like anything big to some people, but I had not had a lap in years, so this was a huge non-scale victory.”

The Olsons don’t recommend fad diets because they don’t believe they work long-term. They weigh themselves once a month.

The family members agree they are much stronger, both mentally and physically, without the added weight. They also have more energy and enthusiasm for life.

“Don’t become overwhelmed with the big picture,” Ed said, offering advice to others. “It’s not hopeless. I encourage others who are struggling to lose weight to find a support person or persons. It really helps to have someone working towards the same goals to talk to.”

Lori said those who would like to follow her journey can find her on Facebook.

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