Inside WRAL

Co-worker's 130-pound weight loss inspires us all

Posted April 30, 2010

I work with a lot of amazing people here at WRAL, but I’d like to focus on one co-worker in particular who is amazingly inspirational. Broadcast operator Tommie Bland has lost 130 pounds and shed 10 inches off his waist since May 2003. At his heaviest, he weighed more than 350 pounds. It was a trip to the doctor’s office that finally motivated him to lose the weight.

“My doctor said I was at high risk for heart attack and stroke, and my blood sugar levels were in the diabetic range. It was a wake-up call,” he said.

To honor Tommie’s accomplishment, our company, Capitol Broadcasting, is holding a “Tommie Bland Get Fit Challenge” from May 1 to Aug. 31. The goal is for everyone to walk 1 million steps. I have no doubt Tommie will reach the goal since he typically walks 90 minutes per day.

I asked Tommie to share his story so he might inspire you as well:

What are your overall health goals? Have you reached them?

I just want to feel good. I am 57 but I feel like I'm 17. When my doctor told me that I had a high risk of a heart attack or a stroke, I thought about what I have been through in my life to get to where I am now. Keeping the weight off is a constant battle. When I lost 80 pounds, I could have stopped, but I kept going. Now I'm down 130 pounds. My waist has gone from size 50 to size 40.

You’ve been on this weight-loss journey for several years now. How do you stay motivated?

Staying motivated is easy. I've seen the results. If I quit, my weight will eventually return to 350 pounds. I've worked too hard to let the weight come back.

Your physical changes are obvious, but how has the weight loss affected you emotionally?

I feel like I'm on top of the world.

Tell us about your workouts. How did you decide to walk 90 minutes a day, and does it ever get boring?

My personal goal was to walk for 5 miles. I used a pedometer to see how long it takes to walk that distance. Walking does not bore me. I take a Walkman with me. On the days that it rains, I go for a swim for an hour at the Pullen Park Aquatic Center. Sometimes I will walk in the morning and go for a swim in the afternoon. Exercising has become a way of life.

How have you improved your eating habits?

My eating habits have improved. For a while my weight was creeping back up even though I was continuing to walk. I thought I was eating healthy meals at the restaurant, but I probably ate too many sugar-free cookies. My doctor said that my LDL level was elevated. He told me to take two fish oil tablets a day. I like to eat a grapefruit after I walk. When I started taking the fish oil, I could not eat the entire grapefruit. Then it occurred to me that the fish oil was filling me up. I did not feel like eating. There appears to be a connection between taking fish oil tablets and weight loss. The Internet has a lot of information regarding this. I have dropped an additional 50 pounds since December. The brand of fish oil that I take is made by Sundown. It is available at Food Lion. I tried a cheaper brand found at a discount store. I did not feel the same and went back to the Sundown brand.

What advice can you give people who are having trouble losing weight?

Losing weight takes a daily commitment, not just once in a while. Consistency also plays a part of weight loss. I go walking the same time everyday. This gives my body time to digest my food. I walk as hard as I can go, not just a leisurely stroll. Find something you like to do and work up a sweat. There have been days in the dead of winter when the water in my jug turns to ice crystals.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Get a digital scale and weight yourself daily. Even if you drop a half pound, then you have accomplished something. If the weight starts to come back, try to figure out what you are doing wrong. Maybe your meals need to be changed.


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Inside WRAL takes you behind the scenes of the news business and the stories we cover.