"You must have [the proper] mind set," Ray Lennard emphasized as he shared his remarkable weight loss and health maintenance story that now involves running in marathons across the country.
Mr. Lennard has been the curator of the William G. Thompson House Museum and Gardens in Hudson since it opened in 2005. He resides in Adrian.
It was 200 pounds and 10 years ago when Mr. Lennard read an article on the health hazards of soda pop. "At the time I was at my heaviest at 350 pounds and was drinking three and four high sugar sodas a day," recalled the 37-year-old who now weighs 150 pounds. "I quit drinking the sodas and dropped 25 pounds right away."
About the same time, high blood pressure and painful gout gave him more reason to analyze his food intake. "I got out a paper and pencil and began to log the calories I ate for each meal, " he said. He set a goal of 1,700 calories a day. "My mind was set to lose."
His exercise program has advanced from running on a treadmill in the basement to 15-mile runs. One of his first runs was the Adrian Haunted Graveyard 5K. He soon will begin 18 weeks of training for the Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge runs Jan. 5-8 in Orlando.
"I love running," he said. "It's good thinking time. My goal is to run in every state." So far he has competed in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois and he hopes to add Michigan soon.
Mr. Lennard's passion to lose weight and stay healthy through diet and exercise includes culinary research and cooking. "I have been checking the wild cranberries, "he said, referring to a crop he spotted on his Adrian Sunday run. "They look to be two to three weeks out."
The meals Mr. Lennard prepares for himself and his wife, Kara, are a considerable change from the meat, potatoes, and gravy style of cooking he grew up with. "And, we had lots of packaged foods because my parents both worked," he said.
"Diet and exercise have really amplified my cooking," he said. "I want to expend calories on something I know what I am eating. And I can make most foods better myself." That includes homemade bread, soups, jams and jellies, and cakes and doughnuts, requested by Kara. For a Christmas dinner for museum volunteers he prepared a 12-course Victorian menu that included beef consomme, salmon, elk, chicken curry, beef tenderloin, sherbet, and mandarin orange cake.
He eats five times a day, beginning at 7 a.m. after his 5 a.m. run with oatmeal with cinnamon and maple syrup. Or the first meal might be two hard-boiled eggs. At 9:30 a.m. he likes a handful of almonds and some fruit. The 12:30 p.m. food break is often a vegetarian sandwich. He also eats about 2 p.m. and then he and Kara sit down together for the evening meal.
Although Mr. Lennard says he doesn't feel deprived, he marks this season as a "horrible time" because ice cream shops and his marathon training are in the same time frame. "It takes will power."
Mr. Lennard is the guide at the Thompson museum, 101 Summit St., Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from noon to 3:30 p.m. He also represents the museum at the Hathaway House outdoor market in Blissfield Tuesdays from 4 p.m. His homemade jams and jellies are included in the museum merchandise.
Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org