Butler County man who lost 200 pounds: ‘It’s worth the battle’

He’s half the man he used to be. That is, if you judge Kent Keller II solely by his weight.

But as the Middletown man has learned — and has preached to anyone who will listen — his 200-pound weight loss has turned him into twice the man he was before.

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“This totally transformed my life,” he said. “It’s worth the battle.”

For years, Keller II waged a war against his weight. He dieted, he exercised, he took pills. Nothing worked. In fact, despite his attempts, he gained weight.

Then one day four years ago, Keller II stepped on the bathroom scale. He knew he was “fat,” he said. He tipped the scale at 383 pounds.

“Wow, that’s a bunch,” he told himself that morning.

He even took a picture of the digital number.

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Keller II estimates between that day in 2014, and when he started dieting months later in April 2015, he probably gained another 17 pounds. So the man carried 400 pounds on his 5-foot-10 frame. Because of the excess weight, he suffered from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and sore knees. He was a slow-walking time bomb, his doctor told him.

That was Kent Keller II Before.

The After is a totally different person.

He weighs 190 pounds and has gone from size 48 pants to size 32. There was a time when Keller II couldn’t walk to the end of his driveway, couldn’t play with his four children, couldn’t go to Kings Island, couldn’t drive by a fast-food restaurant without stopping. And his weight was straining the relationship with his wife, Kandy, whom he married in 2001.

Kandy said she was “angry” every day because her husband was unable to participate in family activities. She remembers when they went on a family vacation to Hocking Hills and her husband was unable to walk up any trails.

“He stood there waiting for us to come back,” she said.

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Last week, Keller II, 37, ran and completed the 13.1-mile Dayton Half Marathon, what he called “one of the most difficult” physical accomplishments. All of his ailments, much like the weight, have disappeared.

His weight loss started with the simplest of lifestyle changes: Replace Mountain Dew with water and walk one mile every day at Jacot Park.

“You need to start with one step,” he said. “The hard part is doing it, and sticking with it.”

He didn’t expect the program to last or be successful. He was used to dieting failure.

But in the first week, he lost two pounds, he said. That was encouraging. Then, a few weeks later, he dropped 20 pounds.

He told himself: “This is starting to work.”

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So he figured if drinking water and exercising were making a difference, he’d improve his diet, which before consisted of the largest sandwiches and French fries available at his favorite fast-food restaurants along Breiel Boulevard. He didn’t meet a sandwich he couldn’t finish.

“Two or three of everything,” he said of his typical order. “I knew I was eating too much. It felt good. Afterward, when you’re walking out, you’re miserable.”

Obesity, he said, is a “huge problem” that we gloss over.

“We point our finger at drugs, finger point at smoking, at alcohol, at all these other bad habits,” he said. “But when it comes to obesity, it’s such a widespread problem. It’s not like there is a drug dealer. The suppliers are everywhere and it’s legal. It’s a problem that doesn’t have the dark veil that drugs have. It’s easier to come up with excuses. ‘Sure, I’m overweight, but so’s she, so’s he, even so is my doctor a little bit.’”

Keller II went from eating double cheeseburgers and fries to chicken sandwiches and baked potatoes to salads with grilled chicken. He now eats more vegetables and fruits and prepares most of his meals at home. He estimates the diet change has saved him thousands of dollars every year.

Throughout his three-year weight loss program, Keller II tried to make improvements daily. Eat a little better. Walk a little longer.

“All these little decisions — all these puzzle pieces — I started to put together,” he said.

His wife said “something clicked” with her husband.

“He put his mind to it,” she said.

Exercise and eating better. Not exactly earth-shattering news.

“We already know this stuff,” he said. “Everybody wants this magic pill, this one sign from God. But for me it was one more try.”

Kandy Keller said it’s great to have the man she married back. He’s more enjoyable in public and loves spending time with their children.

“I saw a miracle,” she said.

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