Success Story

Tom Henning

“Right away I told my wife that this program was for us”

The secret to a happy and fulfilled life may not be as elusive as most of us think. According to long-time New Ulm resident, Tom Henning, the key is to know what’s important to you. 

“I am truly blessed with a wonderful wife, children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren,” said Henning. “It’s important to my wife and me to stay healthy so that we can travel and spend time with all of them.” 

Over the years, that priority has guided many of Henning’s decisions. In 1962, Henning and his wife Elaine relocated their family from Seattle, Wash., to the city of New Ulm when he was installed as the pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Even with a busy schedule, Henning continued to look for ways to stay active. This included getting together regularly with friends to play tennis, a sport that he had pursued in both high school and college. 

When their children became adults, it occurred to Henning and his wife that it would be beneficial to find a fitness activity that they could do together. Even though it was new to both of them, they decided to go to a fitness center and start using indoor workout equipment. They have now been exercising together for 25 years. Henning also takes daily half-hour walks with his seven-year-old golden retriever, Penny. 

Even though for many years the couple has been making efforts to stay healthy, Henning knew that now at age 81 he should be doing more. 

“This past May, I went to see my doctor and I weighed 230 pounds,” said Henning. “I already knew that I had heart disease and my weight had crept up over the years. My doctor told me that I should lose 20 pounds.” 

While reading the local paper last June, Henning and his wife noticed an announcement about the Heart of New Ulm’s free 12-month “LOSE IT to WIN IT” community health challenge. 

“Right away I told my wife that this program was for us,” said Henning. “We were right. It has easily fit into our lives and we are definitely seeing positive changes. At my last doctor appointment, I weighed 198 pounds. I’m now at a healthy weight that I want to maintain.” 

Henning said that for him and his wife, the most useful parts of the program are the weekly and daily food menus and ingredient lists they receive via email. 

“We vary the recipes a little, but follow them pretty closely,” said Henning. “We are eating three meals and three snacks a day, losing weight and not feeling deprived at all. Many of the snacks make me feel like I’m having dessert.”

Henning also said that the menus have introduced them to many foods that they didn’t know they would enjoy so much. “I didn’t think I liked squash, but now I really enjoy it,” continued Henning. “We eat salsa, avocados, tacos, burritos, grapefruit and other foods that we have found we also really like.”

To track their progress, Henning and his wife weigh themselves weekly at the fitness center, track their weight on their home calendar and also weigh in regularly at the HEALTHspot® weight kiosk at New Ulm Medical Center. At last check, Henning said that based on the amount of his weight loss, he has personally earned $30 toward community prize dollars that will be used to purchase outdoor fitness equipment for New Ulm parks and bicycle improvements such as bicycle racks, lanes and signage.

“We encouraged family members and others to join the community program,” said Henning. “Just being able to participate in the program is the biggest incentive for us. I feel better and definitely want to stay on this program. I’ve finally found something that has helped me lose weight and that will help me stay healthy.

“We have so many reasons to want to stay healthy,” continued Henning. “My wife and I will be celebrating our 57th wedding anniversary and will soon welcome our ninth great grandchild. Staying healthy will help us be able to be there for all of it.”