Pack Unit Major David Rice and unit Maintenance Technician Matt Goodson are no longer packing on the pounds. And each had good reason for finally deciding last year to begin shedding their excess pounds by exercising and eating right. For Rice, it was either do or die. For Goodson, it was impending fatherhood.
“My wife and I were about to have our first child and I wanted to see him grow up,” said Goodson who, incredibly, dropped 196 pounds in less than a year with no ill effects. “So I started exercising and eating healthier.”
My doctor looked at me and said, ‘Look, either do something or die,’” said Rice, who weighed in at 250 pounds at the time and had already suffered a heart attack. “He said, ‘Right now, you’re headed for diabetes, another heart attack, or a stroke.’”
In May, Rice, 51, weighed 75 pounds less than he did the previous year and competed with his family for the first time in the 5K Walk/Run at the Texas Round-Up event in Austin. Goodson, meanwhile, was back to 205 pounds, the same weight he carried as a high school senior in 1996. He said much of the poundage he shed was water weight.
“I’m happy right here,” Goodson said. “I don’t want to lose any more weight.”
Rice, too, is happy with his reduced weight and improved health. He was recently able to run a leg of the Special Olympic Torch Run as it passed through Navasota.
“It’s just totally different,” Rice said about his present physical condition. “I’m not tired all the time. I never thought it would make that much of a difference, but it does.”
Rice tried to lose weight once before by taking diet pills.
“I was doing it the wrong way,” he said. “This time, I did it the right way under a doctor’s guidance.”
Together with his wife, Susan, a schoolteacher in nearby Anderson, Rice began exercising and eating “calorie-counted” meals. He and Susan now include 45 minutes of physical activity -- walking, swimming, bicycling -- in their daily routines. She has lost about 80 pounds since they started their weight loss plan last May.
“We did it together,” said Rice, a 26-year TDCJ veteran. “You have to have encouragement in order to keep going. It’s just like Alcoholics Anonymous. You’ve got to have a support group.”
Goodson started his weight reduction plan in July 2006 by eating lighter meals and taking daily walks down a dirt road. He now walks or jogs 4 1/2 miles a day.
“I started out walking, and then once I got to where I could walk a good distance, I started jogging as far as I could,” he said. “Now I’ve gotten to where I jog pretty much the whole time.”
Goodson, 29, supplements his exercise with healthier foods including plenty of fruits and vegetables.
“I quit eating fried foods and started eating vegetables and more baked foods,” he said. “I’ve eaten so much chicken that I think I could grow feathers.”
Both Rice and Goodson said that without the willpower and desire to succeed, most dieters will not reach their goals.
“I think anybody can do it if they set their mind to it and commit to it,” Rice said. “It’s very difficult at times, but the difficulties are short-lived and far outweighed by the benefits.”
“I feel 10 times better,” Goodson added.