Police chief loses weight, one step at a time

Staff reporter

To say Dan Kinning is half the man he used to be wouldn't be too far from the truth.

After all the Hillsboro Police Chief has lost 100 pounds in the past six months with his total goal of 150 pounds of weight loss.

The 5'10" Hillsboro resident began his journey Jan. 8, when he signed up to participate in the countywide Biggest Loser competition, sponsored by Greenhaw Pharmacy of Hillsboro.

"I went public with it. I told everyone that I was going to lose weight," Kinning said. "I couldn't turn back."

His motivation, besides feeling better and being more healthy, was a good one.

"I was told I was going to be a grandfather," Kinning said. "I want to be around for my grandchildren."

Dieting is nothing new for Kinning. He said he had been on about every kind of diet there was.

"I know how to eat," the former high school athlete said.

Instead of grabbing a bag of chips Kinning started grabbing a piece of fruit. Instead of having a taco salad with ground beef and fattening dressing he now eats it with chicken and salsa.

"I'm not starving myself. I'm trying to do it right," he said.

Cutting back portion size, somewhat, has helped but more importantly he said it's what he's been eating.

Kinning eats red meat once a week. Otherwise, it's chicken and fish, and lots of vegetables, fruit, and brown rice.

Having the job he has, Kinning works odd hours, is under a tremendous amount of stress, and sits a good part of the day to do paperwork.

"I used to skip breakfast, sometimes skip lunch, and then eat a large supper," he said.

These days, he eats at least three meals a day, keeping the daily total caloric intake between 1,200 and 1,500.

Finding time to exercise was another challenge.

"My job is my priority but I found ways to make time to exercise," Kinning said.

He started out walking less than a mile every day but now he's walking four miles per day, often logging two miles in the morning and two miles in the evening. On the weekends, he'll walk more.

"I may not be able to run down the bad guys but I can sure walk them down," Kinning said with a laugh.

Getting in and out of the car used to be chore for the overweight officer. Now it's a breeze.

Hip and knee joint pain is gone. High cholesterol concerns are no more.

Kinning did suffer from sleep apnea, a condition that caused him to repeatedly stop breathing while sleeping and making him feel tired in the mornings because he was not getting a good night's sleep. Now that condition is gone.

Anyone who knows Kinning can see a difference in his face, neck, wrists, and stomach.

"I've lost 10 inches around my waist," he said, indicating that his uniform pants are too big with his watch flopping on his wrist, and he said a ring had to be re-sized.

A few new uniforms have been ordered but he's not ready to order too many in his current size because he's not finished losing weight.

To avoid the pitfall of eating the same old foods, Kinning has found ways to spice up his meals by using different spices, giving the same ingredients different flavors.

"I never knew I liked fish," he said, and eats it more often than ever.

The cravings for the chips and sweets are gone now but in the beginning when he got those urges, he grabbed a piece of fruit.

A diet soda drinker, Kinning's beverage of choice is water. Just water.

To make sure he is getting enough exercise, Kinning purchased a pedometer which tells him the number of steps, miles, and calories he's burned. That way he can make sure he is burning as many calories, or more, than he's taking in to continue his weight-loss program.

"My goal is to walk at least 10,000 steps per day which is 4-5 miles," he said.

This dramatic lifestyle change is not temporary.

"I know I have to live like this the rest of my life. I don't have the metabolism to eat whatever I want, not exercise, and maintain a lower weight."

A veteran dieter, Kinning knows that starving himself isn't the answer for weight loss. Just beginning a weight-lifting program, Kinning is more interested in losing fat and gaining muscle. Starving can make a person lose muscle and actually store fat because the body goes into survival mode and stores the fat.

Kinning is one of the lucky ones. He didn't have any major health issues before he started the weight-loss program. Being heavier is a family trait.

"My father was thin but my mother was heavier," Kinning said.

Regardless of heredity, Kinning knows it's not easy now nor will it ever to be easy to change his fate but the benefits are worth it.

Walking without being winded, climbing in and out of his patrol car without effort, and overall health are the joys he's experiencing.

"I have so much more energy. I feel so good."

And the added benefit is being a better employee to the City of Hillsboro.

"A heavier person sometimes misses more work because of illness and actually can be a liability to his employer because of his health. A healthier worker is better."

Next January will be another milestone for Kinning. He will turn 50 years old. And he hopes by then he will have met his weight-loss milestone.