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Brashinger: Mokena mayor says, ‘Goodbye’ to carbs

MokenMayor Joe Werner has lost more than 60 pounds four-month period after coming terms with his carbohydrate addiction. | Supplied

Mokena Mayor Joe Werner has lost more than 60 pounds in a four-month period after coming to terms with his carbohydrate addiction. | Supplied Photo

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Updated: January 31, 2013 6:19AM



It’s inevitable: A new year is coming, and a good number of people, myself included, will say we are going to improve our lives in 2013 by, well, fill in the blank.

For many people, the annual New Year’s resolution may be a repeat of past resolutions that just didn’t work out, and for a considerable percentage of people, that failed resolution may have had something to do with weight loss.

Joe Werner, 55, of Mokena, got about a six-month jump on his resolution this year, although he will be the first to tell you that the bottom line is not really about weight loss.

It’s about changing a lifestyle.

Werner said he’s been gaining and losing the same 50 or 60 pounds for much of his adult life.

“I knew something was way out of whack, and I didn’t know what,” Werner said.

He said the amount of weight lost was eventually gained back much too quickly — and then some — when he lost the focus of his program.

Werner said he now is on his third attempt at a program he is sure is the key to what he now calls his weight loss “failures.”

“I determined over the years I’ve got a pretty aggressive carb addiction,” Werner said.

He thinks the third time might be the charm.

Between Aug. 23 and Dec. 18, the time of this interview, Werner lost slightly more than 60 pounds. He had some anxiety, he said, about hitting the 60-pound plateau again, but what he has learned by trial-and-error has made all the difference.

“I didn’t know that what I was eating was affecting what I wanted to eat or what I’d make decisions about eating later,” Werner said.

Werner said his addiction to certain carbohydrates caused a vicious cycle. Eating those carbs triggered a desire to have more.

“Your body craves fuel first and food second,” Werner said. “When you’re addicted, those two things are flipped.”

Werner is learning to keep the addiction under control in large part, he said, because he has read and takes more seriously “The Carbohydrate Addicts Diet” by Dr. Richard Heller and Dr. Rachael Heller.

“I’m not into self-help books,” Werner said. “The first time I tried, I followed some of the ideas and married them with other things.”

But, following a failure to keep the weight off when daily stress and an ever-changing lifestyle contributed to Werner putting on the pounds again, he decided to do it right this year.

“They recommend no carbs at all for seven days,” Werner said. He said the intention is to make one aware of the food choices a person makes when they cannot have carbohydrates.

“It may not be necessary for everyone to go the whole seven days,” Werner said. “It was for me.”

Having “cleansed” himself of carbohydrates in order to get his addiction under control, Werner feels he’s done just that — and life is good.

“When you’re in control of the addiction, your life becomes more about being places because of the event rather than because of the food,” he said.

That’s a huge change for someone who not only loves to eat, but as mayor of Mokena, has many opportunities to indulge himself.

Bringing his doctor into the picture also made a difference.

After it was determined that his general health was good and Werner said he did not want to fail again, his doctor suggested he keep a log of what he eats and set a goal of 2,000 calories a day.

“I’m not that guy,” Werner told her.

But he gave it a try and found she was right.

An iPhone app not only helps him log what he eats, but he said what he has learned about the food he is eating has been invaluable in making the right choices.

“I do have choices,” Werner said.

His advice for others who may be thinking about making the same lifestyle change is pretty basic.

“I would say, first and foremost, accept the fact that it’s very likely you have some form of carbohydrate addiction,” Werner said. “Whatever it is you want to accomplish in terms of weight loss — for yourself, for your family and, most importantly, for your soul — I encourage you to try.”

Werner’s hoping to be around for a long time to come, living a healthy life with his wife, Pat, and his daughter, Amanda, but he knows that a number on the scale is not the answer to his problem.

“I don’t have a goal weight,” Werner said. “I just don’t ever want to be trapped by an addiction again.”

He knows what’s at stake.

“At 55, you might say, ‘How many more times can you do this?’ I can’t,” Werner said.



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