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Author Topic:   Space shuttle-related weight loss

Posts: 264
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 06-27-2012 10:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have dreamed of being an astronaut since early childhood, and on June 22, 2010, I came as close as I will ever get. I was able to do a run in the space shuttle motion-base simulator at Johnson Space Center in Houston, alongside astronaut Doug Hurley.

It was one of the most coolest experiences of my life, and THE most embarrassing. As I tried to strap in, I simply could NOT get the left lap belt fastened. I honestly thought I was going to crack a rib or two trying to suck my gut in.

There I was, trying desperately to jam the belt in place, with an honest-to-goodness astronaut standing over me, trying to help. Doug did not say a word. He did not need to.

Two years later, I still shudder at the memory.

Luckily, we proceeded with the sim run. Over the next 90 minutes, I was an astronaut training for an upcoming shuttle flight. Doug was seated on the commander's side of the cabin, and me on the pilot's. We did two launches and five landings at both Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Edwards Air Force Base in California. It didn't take long to figure out that as a space shuttle pilot, I make a darn good journalist.

Words cannot truly express what being able to do that meant to me, but for all that excitement, I walked away from the sim building very nearly in tears. I had been too fat to buckle that harness. That knowledge hurt, and I knew that as hard as it was going to be, I had to make a serious change. I had to lose weight.

I had been embarrassed by my weight many, many, many times. For some strange reason that I can't really explain, that day at JSC was different.

This is what I looked like that day:

Since then, I've lost 95 pounds and from my heaviest ever, 110. It wasn't easy. I got back from Houston and headed out to a walking trail behind our local YMCA. I did one lap and then two. I walked a couple of 5k races. Then I started running and lifting weights.

In all, I've done 10 races now... 9 5ks and one 10k.

I was back in Houston a couple of weeks ago. I had wanted to have my photo taken in the MB simulator, but it was well into the process of being packed up for shipment to Texas A&M. I did the next best thing, and found a 5k to run in downtown Houston.

This is what I looked like on June 16, 2012, almost exactly two years after my journey began:

Here's the thing. I don't have any super-secret weight loss ideas. I'm not an athlete — I finished the Houston 5k 433rd out of 860 participants. My only real theory is this:

If I can do it, anybody can.


Posts: 1493
From: Greensboro, NC USA
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 06-27-2012 11:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Way to go, Rick! Great story and super inspiration! I agree, sometimes it takes a single defining moment of embarrassment to inspire one to get serious about losing weight.

My "defining moment" came in February. I'm down 55 pounds since then, with a bunch more still to go. My goal is to be down 100 pounds in time to have my photo taken with the Apollo 17 crew at the AAMS show in November!

I highly recommend the "LoseIt!" app, which is available on Droid and iPhone, and is also on the web. It automatically syncs your data between every device connected to your LoseIt! account. My wife and I have used it religiously every day since February, recording our calorie intake and expenditure. Between reducing intake and increasing calories burned on long walks, as well as our mutual support, losing weight has been a lot easier this time than at any other time in my life. My wife is down 35 pounds and looks great.

Being good techies, we also got a Withings WiFi-enabled scale which helps keep us honest in tracking our weight every day. It interfaces with LoseIt!, so we have all the data in one place.

Again, Rick, congratulations! - and thanks for sharing your inspiring story with us.

Jay Chladek

Posts: 2211
From: Bellevue, NE, USA
Registered: Aug 2007

posted 06-27-2012 12:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I see you also got rid of the beard as well. Congratulations man. It just goes to show, all you need sometimes is motivation and a goal. And you found both.


Posts: 1571
From: Atlanta, GA, USA
Registered: Feb 2007

posted 06-27-2012 01:50 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for garymilgrom   Click Here to Email garymilgrom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Congratulations Rick, not just for losing the weight but for the confidence shown by publishing your story online.


Posts: 264
From: Yadkinville, NC
Registered: Jun 2000

posted 06-27-2012 01:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick   Click Here to Email Rick     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The goatee had to go. I couldn't wipe the sweat from my face when I would run, and it got to the point where I almost felt like I was choking.

By the way ... my T-shirt in the "after" photo is my new favorite space-related piece of apparel. It's from the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, and has a large logo on the back. Still, I'm not real sure wearing a dark-colored shirt during a race on a hot and humid June morning in Houston, Texas was the wisest choice I could have made!


Posts: 1330
From: Huntington Beach
Registered: Feb 2000

posted 06-27-2012 03:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Awesome! Well done. I am down about 40 lbs myself since last October. Just a ton of walking for me. I even walked every morning at Spacfest in Tucson. It feels quite good to make such progress. I know your joy. I hope to lose a few more too.

You gotta have something special to push you. For me it is to watch my little girls grow up and have their own kids someday.


Posts: 555
From: South Carolina
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 06-27-2012 08:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ea757grrl   Click Here to Email ea757grrl     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From someone who fought the same battle (and dropped about the same amount you did) about 20 years ago (and has managed to keep most of it off, thankfully), congratulations. It can be challenging, but the results are so worth it. For me, it was all about learning discipline, both at the table and when it came to exercise, and the new habits I made back then literally changed my life.

Continued good luck to you - and thanks for sharing your story. It couldn't have been easy, but I admire that you did it.

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