Mark Mathews, who will lead one of several teams associated with the city during the American Heart Association’s 5K Heart Walk this fall, has lost 60 pounds since December.
“It’s just been the craziest thing, because I’ve got more energy, I feel better, I’m sleeping better, I’m eating better, I’m thinking better. There’s not enough time in the day to get everything done for me now,” Mathews said.
After putting off the “proverbial New Year’s resolution to lose weight,” Mathews said he decided to make an effort in February.
He said he began to up his physical activity and monitor his diet until his birthday in April, when he received his annual physical.
Although Mathews had lost about 10 pounds, he said his blood pressure remained high and he “still felt horrible.”
“The only thing (the doctor) would do is refer me to a dietician and suggest that I cut back on Diet Coke. That’s right, Diet Coke,” Mathews said.
Mathews said he went from drinking 10 to 12 Diet Cokes a day to just two at the end of April, and on May 1, drank his last sip.
The mayor credits the soda’s elimination from his refrigerator for his slim-down.
“That’s the only thing I can attribute it to,” he said. “I’m more active. I’m not as hungry, so I’m not eating as much. I no longer have sleep apnea.”
Mathews said he experienced no symptoms of withdrawal from a soft drink many say can be addicting.
“I’ve had no headaches, nothing people talk about for giving up Diet Coke,” he said. “It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”
Mathews said his efforts to lead a healthier lifestyle “fit right in” with the upcoming Heart Walk fundraiser, which will take place at Kennesaw State University on Oct. 25.
He said he was introduced to the event through his employer, Metro Atlanta Ambulance, and decided it would provide “a good challenge” for the city.
Mathews said he will try to raise $2,500 before the 5K, while the city has set its goal at $25,000.
So far, Mathews said supporters of his team have paid $950 and committed a total of $1,300 toward his fundraising goal.
He said the city has just begun the process of promoting its effort and has not begun collecting donations.
Councilwoman Cris Eaton-Welsh is one of four teammates who have signed up to participate in the walk with Mathews.
Eaton-Welsh said she expects the 5K to be an easy feat because she is already training for a marathon.
“I think it goes along with the wellness work we’re doing already,” she said of the city’s participation in the event. Kennesaw’s Fit City initiative puts “the focus on getting people active and moving,” Eaton-Welsh said.
Launched in 2012, the initiative partners the city with private entities such as WellStar to encourage healthier lifestyles, she said.