COLUMBIA – Craig Lycke is half the man he used to be and healthier than ever.
On Thursday, Lycke was recognized along with 11 other Columbia residents as this year's winners of the Mayor's Council on Physical Fitness and Health awards.
The Columbia Mayor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health was established in 1999. The council’s mission is to enhance the lifestyles of citizens of Columbia and Boone County by increasing physical fitness and health.
The council is responsible for raising awareness of and encouraging physical activity and fitness. It helps Columbia businesses, schools and organizations to begin fitness programs and recognizes individuals, developments, and achievements in physical fitness. The council submits annual documentation to the City Council and Physical Fitness council.
Source: Mayor's Council on Physical Fitness and Health
Four years ago, Lycke weighed about 320 pounds and was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. His visit to the doctor opened his eyes to the lifestyle he was leading and motivated him into action.
His doctor warned him about the consequences of continuing his unhealthy lifestyle: Lycke could lose his sight, vital organs — even his ability to walk.
"I did enjoy walking with my own legs," Lycke said. "Fear was a motivator."
Lycke, a small systems consultant for Shelter Insurance, began working toward a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise. He began by joining a fitness group now known as Ultramax Sports and starting the South Beach Diet.
At first, the pounds were falling off. But his blood sugar began to rise as bad habits crept back into his daily routine.
"I've always had a sweet tooth, so giving up sugar was a pretty serious sacrifice to make," Lycke said.
Lycke pushed refined sugar and alcohol out of his diet by using what he calls the theory of substitution. Whenever he craved sugary treats like ice cream, or a frosty beer at the end of the day, Lycke would replace the craving by enjoying a piece of fruit or a glass of Perrier water with lemon. On Thursday, Lycke marked five straight months without alcohol.
In a ceremony Thursday evening at the Daniel Boone City Building, Mayor Bob McDavid presented the winners with a plaque. They were acknowledged for achievements in four categories: weight loss, fitness, youth and mentorship. Winners were nominated by friends and family.
"It's extremely important that we honor those who are inspirational examples to those around them," McDavid said.
Down to 195 pounds, Lycke has completed multiple half marathons and two full marathons, along with competing in BikeMS. He continues to stay active by trying new activities and surrounding himself with those involved in physical fitness.
Lycke says a big part of staying motivated is spending time with those who encourage his new healthy behavior and participate by hiking and biking with him.
His twin brother is now reaching the weight that turned Lycke's world around. Lycke promised his brother that if he loses 50 pounds by Memorial Day, Lycke will fly to Virginia so that they can participate in Bike MS together.
"I was consumed with eating as much as I could consume," Lycke said. "If you take the energy you were using to destroy yourself and use it to improve yourself, what will happen? The experience of that process has been magnificently awesome."
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