In fighting shape
Via Christi Weight Management helps Mike Burke slim down for demanding job
Mike Burke always knew he wanted to be a firefighter.
As a young boy in Ellinwood, Kan., whenever he heard the town’s fire whistle, he stopped what he was doing and followed the fire trucks on his bike to see where they were going.
“I loved the sirens and watching the trucks and the firemen,” Burke says.
Having realized his boyhood dream, Burke is a firefighter and paramedic in Halstead, Kan., where he lives with his wife, Paula, and their seven children.
Being a firefighter is physically demanding. And for Burke, it was becoming more so. He had put on extra weight and knew he needed to do something about it.
“It takes a lot of strength and endurance to be a firefighter,” Burke says. “Having the extra weight really slowed me down.”
Burke and his wife turned to Via Christi Weight Management to lose weight and enrolled in the HMR® program. Burke’s wife had previously used the program and thought it would be a good fit for the couple.
The HMR program focuses on making lifestyle changes to help participants lose weight and then maintain their weight loss. The program is medically supervised and features weekly classes and lifestyle education with individualized plans for building healthy eating habits and increasing levels of physical activity.
“The program was easy to follow,” Burke says. “You use the ‘3-2-5 method’ of having three HMR shakes, two HMR meal replacements and at least five fruits and vegetables a day. There were days I ate 12 fruits and vegetables since they’re low calorie, good for you and taste great.”
Paula Burke agrees that the program was easy to follow and that by using the meal replacements, she didn’t have to worry about what to eat.
“The prepared entrees were very good and the shakes are great.” Paula says. “I even drink them when I’m not on the plan.”
Mike Burke credits the support he received from the program’s staff for helping him achieve his weight loss goals.
“We got a lot of support from Angie Cassity, my health educator, who gave us great ideas for healthy meals and snacks we could make at home,” Burke says.
He said having his wife participate in the program with him was another positive influence. The couple loves to ride bikes and prepared for a Bike Across Kansas event as part of their weight loss plan.
“Riding bikes is time we can spend together,” Burke says.
The couple started the program in March 2012. Mike has lost 60 pounds on the program and Paula was successful as well.
An unexpected benefit of Burke’s weight loss was his inclusion in the 2013 Kansas Firefighter Calendar, where he appears as “Mr. January.” The calendar is a fundraiser for the Coats for Kids program and the Kansas Firefighters Museum.
“Posing for the calendar was not something I would have been comfortable doing had I not lost the weight,” Burke says.