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Paynesville Press - June 21, 2006

Student loses 60 pounds by cutting sugar, pop

By Addi Larson

For Riley Sampson, an awareness of daily food intake has lightened both his body and his mood.

Riley Sampson, a sophomore this past year at Paynesville Area High School, lost 60 pounds by cutting out sugar and pop from his diet and by running in addition to his regular exercise. From the start of his health consciousness, Sampson replaced soda with water and said he has since felt less run down.

Riley Sampson, a junior-to-be at PAHS this fall, lost 60 pounds by exercising more and cutting sugar and pop from his diet.

Within the first two weeks, he noticed positive affects of his weight loss through a happier attitude and far more energy, which he attributed to an increase in his metabolism. Sampson said weight loss was a decision he made on his own, in order to get in shape for PAHS sports, of which he plays football and baseball.

This is just the beginning, according to Sampson, who within three months, exceeded his weight loss goal by 25 pounds last August. "I'm going to get in a lot better shape," said the junior-to-be.

Sampson's previous fitness regime was one of unconsciousness. "I didn't really pay attention," he said of his past concerns for his physical health. Now, Sampson said, he thinks of fitness as going outside and having fun and doesn't mind the efforts to move his body toward optimum health.

Sampson's exercise of choice is running, though he also spends time outside during the summer playing baseball, basketball, and football. He runs almost daily - about five miles a week - in the summer after sundown, when the air is coolest.

Sampson's first attempt at weight loss was during the summer of 2004, when he ran once or twice a week and was not nearly as successful. Last summer's second try found him burning off what he consumed, which was a lot less junk food.

Sampson said his two siblings, as well as his parents, have been supportive of his health consciousness. Something as simple as his mom's discouragement from snacking on her homemade brownies noticeably helps counteract his temptation to eat sweets, he said.

Many people reward themselves with food, but Sampson is rewarding himself with a new wardrobe, as his pre-weight-loss clothes had become too big for him. "It felt kind of cool," he said with a smile, and explained that his summer job will allow him to earn the funds for his reward.

Sampson said that being 60 pounds lighter has shown an improvement in his athletic abilities, and that his boosted confidence stems from physically being able to do what he always knew he could do, not having to question himself anymore. In baseball, increased mobility has allowed him to field better and have a higher range at the bases because he is lighter and faster.

"After I see the difference, I don't want to go back to what I used to be," said Sampson, noting that he now weighs 180 pouunds.

What Sampson used to be was less upbeat and less healthy, he said. His advice to others hoping to lose weight is "just stay consistent," adding that it might be easy to stop, but you have to keep doing the routines that work.

Sampson said that in the winter he runs about four miles a week and that he keeps the same eating habits all year. He said he still has free time to hang out with friends and to attend a Wednesday night church youth group.

As the school district's new wellness policy will require the elimination of junk food - replaced by more fruits and vegetables - students and staff are foreseeing changes and how they will effect their daily food consumption. Sampson said his healthy lifestyle has shown positive benefits that he believes would also be good for students and staff within Paynesville Area Schools.

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