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Success Story: Oklahoma City Drops 1 Million Pounds

What happens when a city makes our "Fattest" list? The mayor puts it on a diet.

Oklahoma City
Population: 579,999
Weight Lost: 1 Million Pounds
Duration: 4 Years Our goal here at Men's Fitness is to help you. We want to help you live your life to the fullest, and that means being in the best shape possible. We work each and every day to bring you the best fitness advice out there, period. That’s why we were beyond ecstatic when the Mayor of Oklahoma City, Mick Cornett, told us that an article in Men's Fitness had inspired the residents of Oklahoma City to collectively lose one million pounds. “[The Fittest and Fattest Cities] list came out, and OKC was on it,” says Cornett. “I didn’t know what to do—I was embarrassed by it.” Even worse, Cornett realized that he had been gaining 10 pounds of fat each year he was in office. “I weighed 217 pounds, went to a government website, typed in my height and weight, and it said I was obese,” he recalls. “You’d think a guy would know, but I had no idea.”

To drop his own weight, he simply cut down his calorie intake, going from approximately 3,000 each day to 2,000. He also played tennis whenever he could, and banged out 50 push-ups each morning and evening. He lost a pound a week for 40 weeks, dropping his weight from 217 to his current weight of 180 pounds.

OKC'S MOTIVATION
It's Worth It

“There is a direct relationship between your longevity and your size. Very few people need to be bigger. If you want to be around for your kids and grandkids, every extra year, in most cases, is going to be related to the size you are.”

But more importantly, he began to notice some serious issues within his city. “I was seeing how we had designed the city around the automobile. No one walked anywhere—we didn’t have sidewalks to any great extent in the suburbs,” Cornett says. “Our inner city grade schools didn’t even have gymnasiums. That was the culture that we had created for ourselves.” Couple that with the city’s traditional southern fare (see: carbohydrates and grease) and its not hard to see why we named Oklahoma City "City With the Worst Eating Habits in 2007. He knew that something had to change, but he didn’t have the means to institute widespread changes immediately. Instead, Cornett decided to start a conversation. He created the website ThisCityisGoingonaDiet.com to give residents of OKC a platform to obtain healthy diet tips, the locations of public parks in the city limits and answers to frequent questions regarding obesity.

The website went live on December 31st, 2007. “[The response] was overwhelming. I was on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, I was doing worldwide media. Over 150,000 people visited the site in one day,” Cornett says. The movement was a groundbreaking success. Over 40,000 people signed up, reaching the goal of one million pounds lost this past January. Even better, the people of Oklahoma City have decided to make fitness a priority. “We have over 400 miles of new sidewalks, over 100 miles of new jogging and biking trails, we’re building a downtown park. We’re also building all new gyms in all the inner city grade schools, and we took the fried foods out,” Cornett explains. “That had to go to the polls and get voted on. The campaign sort of set the stage and raised the awareness. Before, we’d just build arenas and bridges.”

But Cornett's favorite part of all this? “We’re not on your [newest Fattest Cities list]. I can’t tell you how big that is to me,” he says. In fact, Oklahoma City made it onto our list of fittest cities for 2012.

GOT SUCCESS? Show us. E-mail your story, your contact info, and any pictures that help illustrate your progress to successstories@mensfitness.com. You’ll be considered for both the online and print edition!

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