MEDFORD — John Anhorn admits both that he’s competitive and that it was time to make a change in his life.
Anhorn has now been given the chance to combine that competitive spirit with his desire for change, all as part of a competition to exercise, eat healthy and shed as many pounds as he possibly can.
Anhorn, who owns a gas and service station in Medford and is a training officer for the Medford Fire Department, is one of 10 contestants in a weight-loss contest sponsored by Seattle Sutton, a company which provides prepared healthy meals for people to eat at home, and KARE 11 TV in the Twin Cities.
“I entered the contest, and this is the third year that they’ve done it,” Anhorn said. “They had 1,000 applicants that wrote stories to get into the contest, and they picked me as one of the 10 to keep going in the competition.”
Anhorn said all his meals are delivered to him by Seattle Sutton, and those meals are all he will eat for the 14 weeks he is involved with the challenge. Anhorn’s diet allows him to consume 2,000 calories per day.
“The nice part of the program is you know what you’re going to eat. You don’t have to prepare it and take the time,” Anhorn said. “You just throw it in the microwave, warm it up and eat it. The nice part of that with the exercise program is you only have to think about how you’re going to exercise. Your nutrition part is taken care of.”
Anhorn participated at the weigh-in at KARE 11’s studios and came in at 318.4 pounds, the heaviest in the competition. He is currently two weeks into the competition, and will be weighed every month to track his progress in the competition.
Each of the 10 contestants is assigned a trainer to help them throughout the challenge, and the food is supplied to them free of charge. Aside from the help provided to him through the competition, Anhorn has reached out to fitness professionals in Steele County to help him lose weight. One of those was Tim Anderson of Anytime Fitness in Owatonna, who gave Anhorn a free membership for the 14 weeks of the competition.
“His wife (Cindy), is a past member had contacted me and told me he was chosen to participate (in the challenge),” Anderson said. “She asked me if I could help him out with a membership and some training and I said, ‘Absolutely.’”
Anderson said he wanted to try and help Anhorn accomplish his goal for winning the challenge. Anderson said he will help Anhorn with a weight training program, which is helpful along with eating right and doing cardio work.
“We’re keeping it pretty basic for the first couple of weeks, and then we’re going to add more pieces to the puzzle as we go and he gets comfortable with it,” Anderson said. “The muscle is active metabolically, so it’s burning calories. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism is going to be. We want to keep that muscle, especially when we’re losing weight, because we’re also losing muscle.”
Anhorn also received help from Jason Young of the Owatonna Fit Club, who helped him pick out a home workout regiment.
Anhorn said he bought some home exercise equipment, which he stored in his garage, about a year-and-a-half ago. In December, he decided to start using the equipment.
“In the middle of December I started exercising every night,” Anhorn said. “Both the machines are pointed at a TV, so I watch the news and work out. I figured it was a good way to start.”
Around the first of the year, Anhorn said he changed his eating habits and really started to keep track of the portions of his meals, which he said was one of his biggest challenges.
“I lost 15 pounds before I got the word that I was in this competition,” he said.
Motivated in part because he wants to be healthy for his 2-year-old daughter as she grows up, Anhorn said the people he’s competing against are nice. While that fact won’t stop him from trying to win, he said he feels like he has already won.
Anhorn said he is the first person outside of the metro area to compete in the weight-loss challenge during its three years. The winner of the competition receives $5,000, which Anhorn said would be nice, but that wasn’t his main reason for competing.
“It’s a nice little carrot to dangle, but I just wanted to get in better shape,” Anhorn said. “I’ve got a little 2-year-old daughter and I just new it was time to make healthier choices.”
When he puts his mind to something, Anhorn said he gets it done. And he’s put his mind to losing weight before. When he was in eighth grade, he lost 60 pounds over about three months. Having done it once he said he believed he could do it again.
Anhorn said he will weight until each official competition weigh-in to find out how much weight he’s lost. He said he hasn’t weighed himself since the competition started two weeks ago, but said his clothes are fitting better and he is already considering punching an extra hole in his belt.
While he may have lost 60 pounds when he was in middle school, Anhorn is setting his sights a little higher this time.
“Overall, I’d like to be down 100 pounds. I don’t think that’s going to happen in 14 weeks,” Anhorn said. “I’d like to see myself in that 220- to 225-pound range ... For a guy with my frame, I think that’s pretty fair.”
Reach reporter Al Strain at 444-2376 or follow him on Twitter.com@OPPalstrain