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Column: Join the journey; let's all be 'Naturals'

If you haven't read the intro to "The Naturals" on the front cover of this fine publication (A1), I'll give you a moment. Click here to read.

Welcome back!

My brother-in-law, Kyle, would call that visual of police lights in the rear-view mirror "cherries and berries." He's a clever guy, and about 3 hours away in the great city of Milwaukee, he's also been an inspiring force for me.

Like his sister, my wife Kayla, did a few years ago, Kyle has transformed himself. With a slow carb diet he read about in Tim Ferriss' book "4-Hour Body," he's shed almost 100 pounds in 15 months.

What's extraordinary is that Kyle pulled off the feat with admittedly little exercise, aside from a month of Couch to 5K training last July. He's just now getting deeper into running, so he lost all that weight simply by changing his diet.

Kid looks great. Feels amazing, according to kid. And he's visibly happier, if that makes sense. I want some of that. Don't you?

As Newman athletic trainer and head coach of the Comets' 1A state champion boys track team Andy Accardi pointed out during the think tank for this series, it doesn't take much to lose weight. You can make small changes. Take out that Mountain Dew every day and add in a half-hour walk – while keeping everything else constant – and you'll lose a pound a week.

I've got about 30 pounds to lose. One year removed from my first marathon, I weighed in at 189.6 pounds Tuesday afternoon at CGH Medical Center with registered dietician Margaret Glady. That's about 50 pounds heavier than when I graduated high school 15 years ago, and 20 heftier than my marathon weight.

Click here to see video of the visit with Margaret Glady

My body fat percentage of 27.3 was what was really jarring, considering a University of Washington study that reports the average American male's BFP is between 17 and 19 percent. I'm paying much more attention to that figure, rather than body mass index, which only takes into account height and weight. It doesn't consider the composition of that weight, whether it's fat or muscle.

What do you have to lose? Tell us by sending an email to Or better yet, find me on My Fitness Pal. My username is christopherheimerman. Clever, huh?

When I first signed up for the app, I suddenly missed my job during my first couple of years in college, slinging DVDs at Family Video.

Back then, I hated – a strong but accurate word – standing on that concrete slab behind the counter for hours at a time.

My fellow SVM sports staffer, Ty Reynolds, is a movie buff and often jokes – I think he's joking, at least – about how much he'd love to work at Family Video. While I've brought his aspiration crashing down to earth a few times with my personal horror stories about the job, there is one reason I wouldn't mind being back in that line of work.

No matter how much my dogs would bark from standing on that concrete slab, at least my personal profile on My Fitness Pal wouldn't tell me I'm only allowed 1,410 calories per day. That's a quarter pounder with cheese meal from McDonald's, sans ketchup for fries.

See, we might exercise our brains a great deal here in the sports corral, but we spend an awful lot of time doing what I'm doing right now – sitting at a computer. If not for game coverage and other intermittent tasks that release us from our cages, this job is downright sedentary.

The good news is, whenever I punch in my daily workout details, that 1,410 number jumps, as do all the other nutritional values I need to meet in a day. The next step? Not only fitting under my calorie limit (4-for-4 so far!), but also meeting all those daily recommendations. We'll talk more about reading and understanding nutritional facts later in the series.

The process has already been enlightening. For instance, I was floored by the amount of sodium in a single pickle. And I thought I was doing a good thing eating two of them with lunch regularly. After all, I was getting my veggies! Yikes, kid. Seriously, yikes.

Wednesday morning, I learned that my Vitality Cereal, coupled with the milk in which it bathes, constitutes 83 percent of the sugar I'm supposed to take in throughout a day.

Much like a year ago, when I delved into the world of brain injuries, I've got a lot to learn over the next few weeks.

One thing I already know is that diabetes, heart disease and obesity (beginning with childhood) have reached unforeseen levels.

Another thing I know is that I miss my garden. In preparing for our first two daughters – yep! – to arrive in August, Kayla and I just closed on our first house. Thus, no garden this year.

By the time the girls arrive in August, I want to see how fit I can get, simply by eating natural foods – even if I have to harvest them at the grocery store – and exercising daily. Goodbye processed foods. In turn, goodbye lethargy. I can't wait to feel how I feel we're gonna feel in a few weeks.

Here's the catch: We've got to put in the work. Here's the perk: We're in this together.

Hold me accountable, and I vow to do the same. Let's see what we can do, Sauk Valley.

Six tips to getting in shape

1. Pick physical activities that you like. Two or three activities is good, because you can alternate between them to prevent boredome.

2. Create a balance between cardiovascular exercise and a light strengthening program.

3. If you have not exercised in a while, the transition back to physical activity should be gradual to allow your body to adjust to the stress and to reduce the risk of injury. Start with 10-15 minutes sessions and increase the exercise time to 30-40 minutes over several weeks.

4. Make time to warm up before exercise and to cool down afterward.

5. Hydrate while you exercise to avoid dehydration.

6. Listen to pain. If you start to experience pain, your body is telling you that’s enough.

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