"...it Is the little things that are going to make a big difference"
As co-owner of the popular B&L Bar in New Ulm and a well-known leader in the community, Jeff Gulden knew people would give him a hard time when the newspaper came out. To help promote the Heart of New Ulm’s heart health screenings, the New Ulm native had agreed to be featured in an ad campaign talking about his own resolve to make healthy changes.
The New Ulm Journal ads showed a photo of Gulden, 43, along with a quote explaining how he felt the screening was “a good wake-up call.” The quote continued, “I need to do something about my weight. I am going to try to exercise more, eat more sensibly and eat smaller amounts of food.”
Explained Gulden, “My wife said, ‘You know, Jeff, if you’re going in the paper, you’re really going to have put your mind to losing weight and making changes.’ I knew I was really going be held accountable. I was really scared about having my picture taken and out there, but thought, well, hopefully this is the thing that’s going to help motivate me.”
His wife Lisa had encouraged him to do the screening and he’d long known he needed to be healthier. In addition to carrying some extra weight, Gulden is on medication for both high blood pressure and cholesterol. His doctor had continually been stressing the need for him to make changes.
Much to Gulden’s relief, the public accountability offered just the motivational boost he needed.
“It forced me to really take control of my health,” said Gulden, “because now that you’re out there in the limelight, people see you and wonder, ‘Well, what are you doing differently?’”
First step: Physical activity
For Gulden, he’s now doing quite a few things differently. One of the first things he did was join the local Anytime Fitness center, where he tries to work out every day for a half hour to an hour. If he misses a day, he tries to make up for it by working out a little longer the following day if he can.
He admitted, “Most people hate to go work out. But after you’re there, it feels pretty good, especially when you get done.”
Although his wife Lisa is an avid runner who works out with exercise equipment in their home, she also joined the fitness center to support him. They have both found it’s easier to succeed with their fitness goals when they have a partner and Gulden finds the fitness center atmosphere helps motivate him, too.
He laughed, “You look at another guy there and say ‘Well, if HE can stay on the treadmill an extra five minutes, then so can I!’”
Little changes; big difference
Along with his new activity routine, Gulden made a variety of changes in his eating habits. As a bar owner, he doesn’t drink much alcohol, but the friendly town bar atmosphere and his varying work schedule offer challenges to managing the waistline in other ways. Customers often bring in different snacks and sweets to try, so he’s pleased that he’s been able to succeed in cutting back on what he eats, as well as when and how much.
Gulden has been especially diligent in his efforts to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. He tries to add “color to his plate” by adding a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, often grabs a banana or granola bar as a snack and now chooses wheat bread over white. Lisa prepares a lot of vegetables with olive oil at home and keeps them handy for healthy snacking.
““I know it’s the little things that are going to make a big difference,” said Gulden. “With my lifestyle, I still like to eat – there’s no doubt about it. But by taking the little steps, I figure you still can eat. You just have to be careful and cut back on the portions and make some wiser decisions.”
Well on the way to his goal
As a result of his lifestyle changes, Gulden dropped 12 pounds — from 260 to 248 — in three months. His short-term goal was to have lost a total of 15 to 20 pounds by the time of an upcoming doctor’s appointment, and his long-term goal is to be at 225. He also hopes that by losing weight, he may eventually lower his blood pressure enough to get off his medication.
Gulden said his energy level has come back “immensely” and he is committed to maintaining his lifestyle changes to help prevent problems down the road. With a family history of heart disease on his father’s side (two uncles died from it), he said, “It’s scary. I don’t want to have heart problems at age 52 or 55. Even if I lose 50 pounds, I know I will have to continually work out and keep watching what I eat.”
A HONU advocate In addition to focusing on his own health, Gulden also took on an unofficial volunteer advocacy role for HONU as he regularly talked to his bar patrons to encourage them to get screened. He hopes that the commitment he displayed to taking action after his screening helps spur others to take action, too.
“I think a lot people think the screening itself is going to do something for them; that they will do it and things will just fall into place themselves. Well, that’s not going to happen. People have to decide what they are going to do and how they are going to do it.”
And of course, as Gulden knows well, finding a way to keep yourself accountable is a critical decision, too. (Volunteers for the next HONU ad campaign welcome!)