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Thread: Des Moines Register Article on Kent Altena

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Apr 06, 2004
    Des Moines, Iowa

    Default Des Moines Register Article on Kent Altena

    Des Register Article (04/17/2006)

    From 429 to 223: 'Ready for higher calling,' he now runs seven miles, rejoins Guard unit

    Kent Altena looks back on it now with disbelief.


    Kent Altena looks back on it now with disbelief.

    "I was 183 pounds when I got back from basic training. I was 18 and underweight," the 6-foot-4 man said. "I can still remember, as I got to be 22, it wasn't as easy to be physically fit."

    He got married. They had a child. He started working. His weight climbed.

    223 - 240 - 278 - 300.

    "I was busy," he said. "During those times, that fat acceptance thing kicked in. I was like, 'Just accept what you are, just accept that.' "

    318 - 326 - 330.

    The years ticked by. One child became two became three and then four. Kent decided to get a master's degree in history.

    Life was busy. There was so much to worry about.

    350 - 362.

    "I focused on other things," he said. "My marriage. Four kids. And I started to be delusional, to convince myself I was in shape even if I was bigger. I was playing basketball and doing things, so how could I be fat?"

    390 - 400 - 418.

    Then one day in 2004 he flew back from a conference in Utah. They put him in a window seat. He was 32, and he felt an old humiliation as he scrunched past other passengers and sat in his seat.

    "I needed the extender belt, that badge of shame," he said. "My leg fell asleep. I tried to scrunch myself into my seat, but when you're 400 pounds, you can't do that."

    He got home. He looked in the mirror. A huge man he didn't know was staring back at him.

    And the scale. It told him, in stark language:


    It took 14 years and 246 pounds, but it finally dawned on him.

    He was fat.

    He had to change.

    Other things worked at the back of his mind as Altena focused on losing weight.

    The first was his older brother. He'd started the Atkins diet a few months earlier, and he'd lost a lot of weight.

    The other was Altena's former National Guard unit, which had just been deployed to Kosovo.

    "I wasn't with them, and I knew it was because I was overweight," he said. "I was forced out. I felt horrible (letting them down)."

    That mix of guilt and sibling rivalry spurred him on.

    He studied Atkins, going online to learn what was required. He learned what he could eat, mastering the diet down to the ounce.

    "We went to Las Vegas a month after, and he didn't vary from the diet at all," said his wife, Laura. "We were at this huge buffet, and he didn't cheat at all."

    Altena had planned to work out as well, but his body reacted brutally to the Atkins diet and its call for fewer carbohydrates and sugars.

    "Until then, I'd been eating two things," he said. "Pizza and nasty Chinese food. For three weeks, I was a miserable cuss. My body wasn't used to it. My wife wanted the old Kent back."

    He did, too. He wanted to eat what he wanted to eat, to leave the "Atkins flu" he'd read about behind him.

    Then they looked at the scale.


    "I was like, 'My God! It's working! I can do this!"

    The man who felt his lungs tighten and choke him every time he walked up stairs started with the treadmill.

    Seven minutes.

    That's all he could handle.

    "My shins were burning. My ankles were burning," he said. "It wasn't pretty. And this was just walking. If I was running, I'd be dead."

    But the fitness center at FBL Financial Group Inc. in West Des Moines, where he works as a server administrator, gave him a daily chance to put his dedication to the test.

    He tried the elliptical trainer.

    He made it 10 minutes on the machine.

    The next time was 10 minutes, too.

    But he kept going, stepping onto the machine nearly every afternoon at work.

    "It was a big struggle," said Jenny Reitano, wellness specialist with the FBL Financial Group in West Des Moines who helped with Altena's training. "What's so impressive is, when it's that hard in the beginning to keep with it, is such a feat. And Kent did it."

    When he ran, it took one-third mile to bring him to his knees.

    Six weeks into his plan, he bought a bike from Wal-Mart.

    His first time out, he made it three miles, his huge frame wobbly over the red bike.

    A week later he made it five miles.


    It was fall, his body feeling better, looking healthier.

    "The bike riding took off," Altena said. "Ten miles. Fifteen miles. Thirty miles. I was suddenly riding from Polk City to downtown."


    In February 2005, when the winter gave way to milder weather, he started running again.

    Two miles.


    "He was a different man," his wife said. "I'd been there every step of the way watching him do it, and it was amazing. I'd never have thought it possible."

    Kent's weight, a nuisance as a child and a disease as an adult, had been conquered.

    He should have felt great.

    He didn't.

    Something was missing.

    "God granted me this huge blessing in getting me back to 250," he said. "Why? Why'd he do it? Just so I could be 250?"

    "I thought there was a higher calling in it."

    His old National Guard unit was back. Altena felt he'd let them down once. He'd be there for them next time.

    "I signed up for a year," he said. Then he smiled: "I passed the PT."

    It's early in the morning on a weekday. The sun has just begun to stretch over the horizon.

    Kent Altena stands, his body now fit. He warms up for his run, bending over to stretch, something he couldn't have done two years ago.


    He'll jog two miles today, running around the lake outside his work. Some days, he'll run as much as seven miles.

    "The first mile," he says with a laugh, "that's always the hardest. It's called inertia. Something not in motion prefers to stay not in motion."

    He'd know.

    But after a long time and more than 200 pounds, he's gotten himself going again.

    Kent's weight-loss tips

    "Resolve this is the day you're going to do it. Be committed to the next meal. Then the next meal. Build on success."

    "You need to know the science behind what is working. Haphazardly trying to do weight loss doesn't work. I studied Atkins. I wanted to know what was behind it."

    Work out
    "Start small but be consistent at it. Go out there three to five times a week or you'll stay at your beginner plateau. Don't be discouraged when you first go out and can only walk for seven minutes. I was there, but I kept going."

    Use your head
    "Be creative. If you feel yourself lacking the desire, treat yourself. Try a new food. Get online and find new ways to cook, which I did with low-carb foods. If you feel bored, change it up a bit. That works with exercise, too."
    Kent - 35-M-6'4"
    HW 429/SW 411/CW 229/GW 225
    Started 3-31-04 - 211 Total pounds down (was 21

    My Blog | Photo Gallery | My Atkins Diet Story Video
    Subscribe to my "How to" Atkins Youtube account

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 12, 2005

    Default Re: Des Moines Register Article on Kent Altena

    That was a great article. Thanks for sharing your success with others.

    38f, 5'7"

    16/80 November Mileage Challenge
    6/20 November Video Challenge

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Jun 17, 2004
    Blink and you miss it, Texas

    Default Re: Des Moines Register Article on Kent Altena

    Thanks for sharing KEnt you are such an insperation!

    support? Isn't it time to give some back?
    Ask a mod how today.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Des Moines Register Article on Kent Altena

    Great article Kent congrats on all the hard work you did morphing your body working your Atkins.
    by the book atkinseer


  5. #5

    Join Date
    Apr 01, 2004
    South East

    Default Re: Des Moines Register Article on Kent Altena

    Oh, thanks for putting it here where it won't get lost! You are such and inspiration Kent!

    50 yrs (F) a.k.a. "Butterbean", "Moggy" or "Mogs"

    Re-start date 1/26/11

    Historical Data
    Start date 5/18/2003

  6. #6
    Heidi3 Guest

    Default Re: Des Moines Register Article on Kent Altena

    Kent that is a great article good for you and congratulations

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Aug 09, 2004
    SE Florida
    Blog Entries

    Default Re: Des Moines Register Article on Kent Altena

    Wow! Cool Kent! Good job!!

    Life is what happens to you
    while you're busy making other plans!
    15.38 miles biking this year

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Apr 01, 2004
    South East

    Default Re: Des Moines Register Article on Kent Altena


    50 yrs (F) a.k.a. "Butterbean", "Moggy" or "Mogs"

    Re-start date 1/26/11

    Historical Data
    Start date 5/18/2003

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Apr 28, 2004

    Default Re: Des Moines Register Article on Kent Altena

    Thanks for bumping this.

    Kent... what an accomplishment! You truly are an inspiration.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Nov 03, 2006
    Victorville, CA

    Default Re: Des Moines Register Article on Kent Altena




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