Mind gains led to weight loss

Standing 6 feet tall and weighing 275 pounds a few years ago, John Whitehead thought he was destined to a life of being overweight.

But he changed that way of thinking, and it changed his life.

The Marshalltown resident decided he would not let his mind tell him what he could and couldn’t do. It was up to him to change, and he has lost 84 pounds in the past 2.5 years living a healthier lifestyle.

He decided to tell himself he could work through some challenging goals in working out and eating healthier, and it has paid off.

“We are own our worst enemy – mentally and physically,” Whitehead said.

Whitehead, 36, has now completed three triathlons, has more energy for his children and has a much better outlook on life.

“I’m the most blessed guy I know to have what I have,” he said.

He now runs six to seven miles three-to-five times a week and is training for the 13.1-mile Dam to Dam race in Des Moines June 1.

“That would be a peak of success in my fitness goals,” he said of the upcoming race.

For Whitehead, it all boils down to being his own master of self control. He stopped drinking alcohol and started eating healthier and never let himself say “I can’t.”

He paraphrased a famous quote when thinking about this new mental approach.

“If you think you can or you can’t – you’re right,” he said.

He didn’t say the process was easy, as he said “being fat was easy.”

Whitehead doesn’t like to dwell on the past or let it hold him down for his future. As much as he has improved his health physically, his mental health has also experienced an uptick. Not to mention that certain thing known by those who work out as the “runner’s high.”

“It’s a high that has to be earned,” he said.

For those that think they don’t have time for working out, just look at Whitehead. He and his wife Sarah have five children, he works full-time in heating and cooling and is going to school.

“It’s a challenge that would be easy to reason my way out of,” Whitehead said.

Sarah has lost 60 pounds herself the past couple of years as she has also focused more on living an active lifestyle. She has served as an inspiration to her husband.

The admiration goes both ways.

“John makes me so proud and inspired,” Sarah said. “He realized that his old habits were keeping him from living a healthy and fulfilling life. He committed to getting and staying in shape, and his self discipline is amazing.”

John has a message for those who think they can’t do it. You don’t have to be blessed with the right genes, you just have to work through the mind games you play on yourself saying that it’s impossible.

“Anything is possible,” Whitehead said. “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”