Merlene Davis: I'm supporting one man's attempt to lose weight and decrease effects of poverty

Herald-Leader columnistJanuary 4, 2014 

  • Pounding Poverty

    Charles Lanter, manager for program development at Community Action Council, is seeking pledges for every pound he loses in the first 12 weeks of his year-long weight-loss journey. The tax-deductible pledges will be donated to a Community Action program which helps low-income residents.

    How to pledge: Visit Poundingpoverty.com.

    To follow his progress: Visit his "Pounding Poverty" Facebook page, or follow him on Twitter @poundingpoverty.

I know we've heard it before. Some of us — including me — have uttered the same words with what was later revealed to be temporary sincerity.

But when I read Charles Lanter's email to "family, friends and colleagues," announcing his intentions to lose weight, I felt no cynicism, only hope.

Lanter, manager for program development at Community Action Council, publicly announced his mission to lose 75 pounds in 2014. And while he knows he needs to drop the extra pounds in order to also eliminate prescriptions for hypertension and high cholesterol, as well as to be a more physically active participant in the lives of his two young children, Lanter added another incentive that makes his effort even more appealing to me.

For the first 12 weeks of his mission, he is soliciting pledges for every pound he loses. The money will be donated to a Community Action program.

"For example," he wrote, "if you pledge $1 per pound and I lose 35 pounds between January 1 and March 26 then you would make a $35 tax-deductible donation to the Council."

Instead of just losing weight for his health and his family, Lanter has placed the needs of our low-income population and the programs that serve them as his motivation.

Why?

"One reason is accountability," Lanter said. "Somebody is counting on me to do this."

Since issuing the challenge in December, Lanter said he has received pledges of $56 per pound from 40 people representing eight states from Maine to Texas. As it stands now, if he loses 30 pounds in those first 12 weeks, a Community Action program will receive $1,680.

"And there are still more pledges coming in every day," he said.

Exactly which program will receive the donation will be up to those who pledge. Lanter said he will contact supporters at the end of March and provide a direct donation option to send in the pledge.

"In exchange for your support," Lanter wrote, "I'll be blogging weekly about my progress and include some tidbits about Community Action Council so you can get to know me and my organization a little better. I'll even throw in some self-deprecating pictures for your amusement."

Lanter, 35, "and too young to be this size," said he will reveal his starting weight at the end of his journey, "so if folks want to know what I weigh now, they'll have to tune in!"

As with most of us who battle weight gain, Lanter said he was quite fit until he settled down in marriage. Eventually, his daughter enrolled in dance and his son in baseball and it became easier to eat out or to grab fast food rather than prepare meals at home. His job required more desk time than movement, he said, which added to the expansion of his waistline.

But a recent hike at Raven Run with his two children solidified his resolve.

The short hike required walking through mud for about a quarter of a mile, he said, and by the time they reached the Kentucky River overlook, he was exhausted.

"You know it is bad when a 5-year-old says, 'Come on, Daddy,' and I thought I would be the one urging him on."

That spurred him to start the mission early, on Dec. 30 rather than Jan. 1.

He and his wife cleaned out the snack foods and replaced them with fruits, vegetables and organic ingredients. They shopped the perimeter of the grocery store rather than in the processed food areas in the middle.

"I ate an orange the other day," he said. "I had forgotten how good it tasted."

The fresh fruit treat reminded him of how little fresh food is available in some Lexington neighborhoods, which are called food deserts. That lack of fresh foods could definitely be adding to the obesity seen in lower-income areas. "I'm hoping that is another thing this will accomplish as it goes along," Lanter said.

He also joined a gym near his home and has a personal trainer once a week.

"I want to keep it simple," Lanter said. "I don't think you have to go out and spend a fortune."

When I called him last week, he said the muscles in his arms were so sore he could barely hold the telephone, but he feels good about getting back into shape.

"No one ever wakes up and says, 'I no longer care about my body. I'll just let it go and to heck with fitness, appearance or overall health,' Lanter wrote on his blog. "Life doesn't happen in one of those magical moments. ... Life is a series of small decisions about whether to eat broccoli or burgers and the consequences smack you in the chest one way or another."

I just have to root for someone like that, someone who finds an added incentive to lose weight and someone who chooses to let the world in on what surely will be a serious battle filled with doubts, temptations and, hopefully, success.

I'm just not sure I could do that with all the world watching.

"Everybody says how brave I am for doing this so publicly," Lanter said. "But I was already publicly fat."


Pounding Poverty

Charles Lanter, manager for program development at Community Action Council, is seeking pledges for every pound he loses in the first 12 weeks of his year-long weight-loss journey. The tax-deductible pledges will be donated to a Community Action program which helps low-income residents.

How to pledge: Visit Poundingpoverty.com.

To follow his progress: Visit his "Pounding Poverty" Facebook page, or follow him on Twitter @poundingpoverty.

Merlene Davis: (859) 231-3218. Email: mdavis1@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @reportmerle. Blog: merlenedavis.bloginky.com

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