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What happens when you give up a big sugary drink habit?

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If you’re Hollywood Park Mayor Chris Fails, you lose a LOT of weight

When 39-year-old Mayor Chris Fails of Hollywood Park found himself at an alarming weight a few years ago, he decided to make some significant changes in his life. Perhaps the most significant, he says, is giving up sugary drinks completely. In less than a year, he had lost 200 pounds.

Q: So what made you want to make a major change in your life?

Mayor Fails: When we moved here from Tyler, my wife said I needed to get a doctor. So I found a doctor, and he said, “I’m not taking you as a patient until I’ve done a full physical.” He did the physical, came back and said, “I’ve got some bad news. I’ve run every test I can think of to try to find a reason to tell you that you need to have bariatric surgery. And I can’t find one. You’re the healthiest person over 300 pounds I’ve ever seen in my life.”

I came home and was joking to my wife about it, and she looked at me and said, “You know it’s not going to stay that way.”

So I broke down and decided I’d have gastric sleeve surgery. After that, I had to learn to eat right. One of the first things I said was, OK, no more carbonated drinks.

Q: Why give up sugary drinks?

Mayor Fails: I was drinking a 12 pack a day of soda. March 2011 was the last time I had a carbonated drink.  It was very hard to give it up. Now I drink water. I’ll have unsweetened tea — and not add sweetener — maybe three days a week.

Q: Was that the only life change you made?

Mayor Fails: The sugary drinks were a contributing factor, but you also have to watch your food intake, increase your exercise — do all these other things to achieve a large weight loss like that. I started eating smaller portions, and eating more often. I got my tail on a bicycle and started riding around Hollywood Park. Hollywood Park really helped with my weight loss because I could get on my bicycle and it’s possible to do 20 miles and see only seven cars.

Q: And you lost weight?

Mayor Fails: In the course of 11 months, I lost 200 pounds. My high point was weighing 396.

Q: How has life improved for you after losing all that weight?

Mayor Fails: I actually like going for a walk. It’s not a chore to take the stairs at work. Now I park at the end of the parking lot. Before, I would battle to get the parking spot closest to the front door. It makes a huge difference. My wife loves it. She really enjoys getting out and doing more.

Q: What’s next for you?

Mayor Fails: I’ve been mayor of Hollywood Park for just over a year now. I was a councilman for a year, then mayor. I’m a land manager for a pipeline company. I just finished taking 18 hours per semester of college classes because I wanted to go to law school. I start law school on Aug. 24.


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