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Workout that improved his golf game gave yo-yo dieter the incentive he needed

Jared Holsopple knows all about yo-yo dieting. He did it twice – going from 280 pounds to 205 back in college, and from 340 to 270 pounds three years ago, gaining all but 10 of those pounds back by late 2017.

Both times, the weight went back on after initial success plateaued, his work and home demands intensified, and poor eating and exercise habits resurfaced.

Last year, he rediscovered a childhood passion – golf – and has since lost 50 pounds. He believes the lessons he’s learned during all three weight-loss efforts will make a more lasting impact this time around.

“If you are at a plateau, you probably need to think about making a change somewhere,” said Holsopple, 36, an engineer who lives in Elma with his wife, Sarah, and their two young children.

He credits his grandfather, the late Henry Trznadel, as one key to his success this time around.

“Since I was a kid, I loved to golf,” Holsopple said. “My grandfather was a plus-2 handicap and shot his age when he was 65 years old. My parents recall him teaching me to swing a club when I was 4 or 5.”

Q: Why did you put the weight back on twice?

Stopping to get a breakfast sandwich or burrito – frequently with hash browns. Afternoons were often going to various sit-down restaurants near where I work. When I did bring lunch, it would usually be dinner leftovers, a couple sandwiches – ham, turkey, and cheese – or a frozen skillet meal, typically two to three servings. Evenings were usually a prepared meal without much regard to portion size. Cheese was often added. The big thing for me I think was snacking. I would usually just eat stuff here and there and the calories would just build up.

Despite usually being on the heavy side my whole life, I was relatively active up until about 10 years ago. I played on the tennis team in high school but haven't swung a tennis racket in years. In college [at the Rochester Institute of Technology], after putting on a bunch of weight, I got interested in strength training … and a friend helped me to build a "couch to marathon" program. I lost about 75 pounds in that eight-month time frame. The approach was extremely effective in the short term, but it was not sustainable. I started to hate running and eventually I was spending less time in the gym. Between finishing up my degree, and traveling a lot for work, it was tough to keep up that active lifestyle. Couple that with an already-bad diet and the pounds came back on.

I knew that losing weight was as simple as calories burned must be greater than calories consumed, but getting over the mental hurdle of actually doing that is quite difficult.

Q: How has golf figured into your latest weight loss?

In the winter of 2016, a recently hired co-worker told me he was a golfer. After telling him about the annual company tournament, it got me excited again to golf. I went to the Wehrle Golf Dome to hit some balls and I couldn't hit anything but shanks. I got that resolved after a lesson, but I could not seem to make any lasting improvements to my consistency.

Last fall, I was listening to a golf podcast where the guest was discussing the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI). The idea was that TPI had screened a number of golfers, both professional and amateur, and determined that certain physical limitations – poor strength, flexibility, or mobility in certain body parts – could be linked to certain swing flaws. The focus would then be to overcome those physical limitations or find a workaround.

That got me to thinking that when I was an 8 handicap, I was working out a lot. I had been trying to motivate myself to get back into the gym, so what better way to motivate myself than to try to do it to benefit my golf game?

"Fitness is undoubtedly important, especially for someone with a desk job, but, at some point, you need to address your diet to see significant weight loss," says Jared Holsopple.

Q: What's it like now?

After learning more about TPI, I contacted Mark Schraven of Advantage Fitness in Lancaster (advantagefitnesswny.com). After starting with a session every other week, I started about six months ago going to him three times a week because I was seeing not just improvement in my golf game, but improvements in my overall health. … I felt like I could more easily make swing changes because my body wasn't fighting the movements. More importantly, I was noticing huge improvements in my quality of life. My first round was an 82 at Elma Meadows, which was the lowest round I had in about 5 years. Although the most exciting thing to me about it was that it was the first round of golf I played in a number of years without a sore back afterwards…

Working out isn't the panacea of the golf swing. It's not going to magically fix every flaw in your swing. You still need to understand what is wrong and how to fix it. However, by enabling your body to move better, more efficiently and with more strength, making the changes needed to fix your swing becomes a lot easier.

I had never worked with a personal trainer prior to working with Mark, so you could say that was another "change" I made this time around in my effort to improve my health.  I have found that it holds me more accountable. One other change is that before I would just work out for the sake of working out.  Now, however, I actually consider the time I spend in the gym as "golf practice."  I still have a long way to go.  I still need to lose a lot of weight.  I'm still actively working to improve my golf game.  It's going to be a never-ending process, but I look forward to it.  Mentally, I feel so much more prepared and I'm trusting the process I've established this time around.  Change isn't going to happen overnight, but small things happening every day can have huge long-term effects.

Q: Can you talk about key changes you made to help you lose weight?

Allow for some imperfection into your diet. It's OK to treat yourself to the occasional dessert or unhealthy snack, but just be aware of how frequently you are doing it and take that into consideration when eating other meals and tracking your weight. Make small changes over time. The goal is not just to lose weight, but also keep it off. Unless there is a specific medical concern that needs immediate attention, a number of small changes spread out over time can have a huge long-term impact, but also feel like you didn't really change much. Fitness is undoubtedly important, especially for someone with a desk job, but, at some point, you need to address your diet to see significant weight loss.

Q: What have been the big benefits?

Hands down, it's being able to "keep up" with my 5-year-old daughter, Sadie, and 2-year-old son, Lucas, when we are playing. They have so much energy at those ages and just love to run around.  Not to mention that trying to do a plank in the living room with a toddler trying to climb on you at the same time adds a fun element to that exercise.

I also can walk a round of 18 holes without back soreness and it's rare that I wake up in the morning with any sort of lower back soreness. Food is cheaper, too, because I’m buying fewer snacks and eating out less.

New Lancaster gym owners take a swing at overall wellness

email: refresh@buffnews.com

Twitter: @BNrefresh, @ScottBScanlon

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