Local man is half the man he used to be

Louise Oleson, Editor
Gregg Oeder 146 lbs. lighter in 15 months after changing his lifestyle.

Gregg Oeder is a new man and he’s experiencing things he hasn’t experienced since he was in high school thanks to dropping nearly half his weight in 15 months.

The 58-year-old credits his weight-loss success to a weight -loss community he discovered on the Internet and some of his plain old competitiveness left over from his athletic youth.

Approximately 146 pounds ago Oeder had a doctor’s appointment with his personal physician, who is also a long-time friend. He laid it out for Oeder, more surgery was in his friend’s future because his joints were getting so bad.

Already he’d experienced two angioplasties and three stents, now his knees were really giving him trouble.

His doctor recommended bariatric surgery because he had been heavy for so long, “You’ll never be able to lose it on your own,” he told him.

Well that was all Oeder needed to hear. He set out to prove to his friend - and perhaps to himself, as well - that he indeed could do it.

Oeder was always on the heavy side, as a youngster, but throughout school he was into sports so that helped keep his weight down. “I was in pretty good shape for the most part,” he said. But it was after basketball was over and an injury to his knee caused him to have the first of what would be three knee surgeries put an end to his athletic career.

It  also led to that “freshman 15” that many experience in college. “Heck, I wish it had been only 15,” Oeder said.

That’s when his weight really  started adding up until he was at the point in May of 2009 where he could hardly walk around the block without stopping to rest, suffering from angina and bad knees that were only made worse by his 320 lbs.

“The orthopaedic surgeon my doctor friend referred me to said he wouldn’t do complete knee replacement for me until I lost some weight, so I got busy and went to the Internet and Googled ‘weight loss.’ Something I don’t recommend doing because I got millions of websites - what do you do with that?”

I scrolled through some of them and ruled many out because I didn’t want to spend any money and ran across the website called “spark people.”

Curious, he checked it out and found it to be the place that was just meant for him.

“It was everything I wanted,” he said. It offered menu plans, education about portion size, people to communicate with who are going through what you are and it was free,” Oeder said.

Their philosophy is “make little changes to get to a big goal” then when you reach it, add to it.

“It has changed my life,” Oeder said.

“My first step was finding the website, then I quit drinking pop and started drinking at least eight glasses of water a day.”

That was it.

His first steps to a new life.

After that he used a small stationary set of bike pedals where he could sit in his chair and ride as if he were riding a bike.

“I wore two of those out,” he explained. Then he started walking, that competitive drive he learned as a young athlete drove him to keep going, do a little bit more, a little bit more, and so on.

Now he bikes using a real bicycle or walks six days a week, two times a day, plus he does strength-building workouts.

“It’s addicting - exercise is, plus the positive reactions I get from people. And I’m having to take much less medication, that’s a real plus,” Oeder explained.

“I feel more confident, I have much more energy, my joints feel better and I just plain feel better,” he said.

The only draw back? His closet is empty because he’s had to give away all his 4X shirts and 48-inch waist slacks. And he’s not done yet, figuring he’s got about 24 lbs. to go.

“I’m only 5’5” and my goal is 150 lbs. - that’s the top end of the BMI for my height. I have about 24 lbs. to go to reach that,” Oeder admits.

But at only 14 more pounds he will have lost 160.5 lbs. and he will be exactly half the man he used to be when he began this journey.

“I’m not on a diet, I am changing my life,” Oeder said. “That’s different.”

When he reached his goal, how is he planning to reward himself? “It will probably be around Christmas so I am going to get myself a new bike and a new speedometer for that bike,” he said with a smile.

He realizes that his weight loss success is not typical, but like the website he swears by, Oeder now hopes his success will be a “spark” for someone else to find success, too.

In the meantime he’s heading home to do some cooking, which he has learned that he loves to do. Tonight he said he is making his own version of a pizza on a tortilla with barbecue sauce topped with turkey, pepperoni, ground turkey (cooked and seasoned), mushrooms, peppers and onions.

One of Oeder’s goals is coming soon, on Aug. 28 he wants to participate in the 5K walk for Alzheimer’s. “That’s pretty good for a guy who couldn’t walk around the block a year ago,” he said.

Oeder lives in Devils Lake and has been an optician at The Eye Clinic for 10 years.

Gregg Oeder has made some dramatic changes in his life that have helped him become nearly half the size he was just 15 months ago.
He is pictured here with his little buddy, Otto. At his heaviest he weighed 320 lbs. now he’s lost 146 of that and says he has a few more to go to be half the man he used to be - literally.