Eugene Cho

health and weight

I’ve been wrestling with my weight this past year. Most folks may not have noticed but it’s been a growing concern and conversation. That concern has been compounded by numerous people I’ve met recently that knew me 5+ years ago when I weighed around 135 lbs.  They’ve been looking at me a little funny…

This past year, I suddenly put over 20 lbs. Last week, I weighed in at 162 lbs.  Why?

  • I haven’t been exercising at all.  Laziness.
  • My metabolism has slowed way down.
  • I have a bad habit of having a big snack after 10pm.

Again, it may not be a big deal to some and while the conversations of obesity or weight might be a sensitive issue to folks, it nevertheless needs to be discussed. If anything, there really needs to be some self-examination. I bring this up not so that we can conform to the skinny model syndrome but for the sake of being healthy.   Minhee is obviously getting concerned because both my parents have struggled with health issues related to their weight as well.  

I read an article this past weekend that wasn’t shocking but nevertheless, suprising.  It’s entitled, America’s Most Obese Cities [Forbes]:

We are heavier than ever.

Once considered an affliction of the lazy and indulgent, obesity now affects about one-third of Americans. The epidemic has swept up the wealthy, middle class and the poor; city dwellers, suburbanites and those in rural areas; and people of all races and ethnicities.

The causes, researchers say, are numerous. These include a diet of calorie-dense but nutrient-deficient food found in grocery and convenience stores, public planning strategies that favor motorists over walkers and cyclists, and simply bad habits.

And while the causes are many, the costs are enormous. Obesity’s associated costs add $93 billion to the nation’s medical bill annually. Each year, 112,000 people die from obesity-related causes, and the condition is responsible for an increased risk of chronic diseases like Type 2 diabetes, cancer and heart disease. [read full article and see if/where your city is ranked]

What is obesity?

Obesity: The state of being well above one’s normal weight.

A person has traditionally been considered to be obese if they are more than 20 percent over their ideal weight. That ideal weight must take into account the person’s height, age, sex, and build. 

It wasn’t that long ago when I weighed in at 125 lbs, ran 70-80 miles/week, played ball several times/week, and blah blah blah.  Well, this is my early new year’s resolution.  Exercise, rest well, stop eating past 10pm, and get down to 145.

Filed under: health

27 Responses

  1. Ben says:

    It’s clear there are reasons why you’re gaining weight which is due more to your inaction than unknown causes.

    You know you gotta do work. It’s about balance and you can eat after 10PM if you’re also putting the time in the gym. The only hard and fast rule is: do work.

    If POTUS can make time to exercise, so can we all. 🙂

    I think.

  2. Jennifer says:


    2 things…

    1. Your post makes me reveal to myself another way in which I stereotype people with Asian heritage as a model minority : they’re genetically thin and never have to think about it. Thank you for your vulnerability here because it humanizes the issue a bit more for me.

    2. In your accounting of where the 20 lbs came from, I hope you are kind to yourself and remember that stress can cause easy weight gain…and this year you’ve been through a church merger, a church renovation, and some big issues in the lives of church members. I don’t offer that for you to have an excuse (ha! as if I’m one to talk!) but in hopes that you can also examine ways in which you deal with the stress – are you getting enough time away from the church? Do you have safe people you can vent to when needed? How are your friendships? Etc.

  3. Ben says:

    It’s not stress that causes the weight gain per se. It’s the fact that he’s busy with the renovation, merger, kids, et al that takes up all his time to which he has none to commit to exercise to… de-stress.

    Do work. Done.

  4. Alan Klug says:

    PE, two other big factors in weight gain:

    1. Not sleeping enough
    2. Stress

    Late night eating, also not a good idea 😉 One thing a lot of cyclists do when they are cutting weight is to ride early in the morning, and then ride again later in the day. When you exercise early it starts your metabolism, and also, if you excercise early nothing during the course of your day can keep you from getting it in. Good health isn’t that hard, but it requires prioritization with today’s lifestyle.

  5. pdxwoman says:

    oh dear. sorry about that… please delete that last comment I wrote if you get a chance…

    a bit long winded, but worth the read. not saying you should or shouldn’t get busy loosing weight, just sharing info.

  6. Joseon says:

    Buy a dog. Walking it everyday really keeps the weight down and the time spent walking it gives you some relaxation. It helps making yourself more known in the neighborhood, also, and lets you meet some pretty cool people on the streets, dog park, etc,. that you wouldn’t have been able to meet.

  7. Dennis says:

    Wow Joseon, I really like that suggestion. Never thought of it that way…

  8. Ben says:

    Not sleeping enough? Cuz one is doing everything, but exercising. If one was exercising, but not sleeping enough, he’d still be in a much better weight/health situation.

    Stress? Because one is getting pulled in so many directions in life where they have little time to commit to exercise.

    Again, all these reasons that cause weight gain stated thus far are… not the cause. They’re life characteristics that paint a picture of that person’s lifestyle and show why it makes sense that they’re moving toward the big indicator –> weight gain and all the bad stuff that culminate to this end result and if not challenged add up to more bad stuff.

  9. e cho says:

    jennifer: clearly, i don’t live a stress free life but feel on the most part, it’s not a major factor. but yeah, the summer’s been a little more stressful that usual.

    alan: i really do need to get a little more sleep. maybe an extra hour from my current 5-6 will help. and getting the bike out of the garage will be helpful too.

    ben: if you were close, i’d ask to train with you. but don’t forget who owns you on the basketball courts.

  10. Ben says:

    LOL, nothing but respect, sir.

  11. Genesis Man says:

    check it out: 40 day juice fast=deeper with God and community, drop 15-25 pounds, lower cholesterol 50 points. I should write a book, but it would be as short as that.


  12. patlo says:

    Hey Eugene –

    I found myself in the same boat over the past few years. Over the past 15 months or so – actually more than that, basically when my son was born – my wife and I started going to Weight Watchers. I hit my goal weight 10 weeks ago now, and am still where I want to be – 30 lbs under where I started.

    For me, I had to relearn discipline and self-control. The thing I like about WW is that it’s all about my own choices – I can eat whatever I want; I just have to count the cost. If I exercise, I can indulge myself a bit more than if I don’t exercise.

    I’ve found that, because it took me so long to hit my goal and maintain it, that was better for me than a quick loss where my life pattern didn’t change that much. I learned about frustration, identity, self-control, all that good stuff.

    I also during the same time went to a psychiatrist, because I was having some problems that I suspected were depression. Turned out that wasn’t the case, but her diagnosis was exhaustion. That made me realign some priorities, and work with my wife so that we both could get a better sleeping pattern in place (not easy with a newborn…).

    All in all, I feel much better at 38 than I did at 30. But I’d still like to be more active – though I realize that the days of all-day mountain bike rides and long hikes are more rare now with little kids.

  13. leochen says:

    wow, look at the number of responses already!! after we briefly talked about this in the car in Hawaii, I thought maybe we can go running sometime one of these mornings before work. Just to get you started on something. I told you I lost 25 lbs between June and October. And I was able to do it, and still keeping it off because I have a small list of friends whom I can call to go running with (much more fun than running alone.) I also made a point of eating at least one super-healthy meal a day (like celery sticks, carrot, unsalted nuts and grapes), which easily cut out 300 to 400 cal every day. That’s a lot! Oh, one huge thing… cut down on salt… I was shocked how much of it all was actually water weight from salt intake instead of fat.

    Anyways, wanna go for a short run some time this week?

  14. Ron Kent says:

    Very good article … however, one must take into consideration that if the person needing the weight loss is a diabetic or a senior then other criteria come into play.

  15. It sounds like you know what to do. Now it’s just a matter of doing it. And it’s great that you’re declaring your intent to an audience before the new year – it means that you’re more serious about taking action and are more likely to succeed. I have a few healthy recipes on my blog that may be of help to you. Good luck!

  16. Darwin says:

    After college, without daily bike rides to class and spontaneous basketball/soccer/ultimate games, and the fact that i spend nearly 8 hours a day sitting in front of the computer, i easily gained the post-grad version of the freshmen 15. For me, I’ve been trying to stay healthy by simply eating less. I used to eat so much in college and it was a matter of pride to finish everything on my plate or out-eat my friends at the buffet. It didn’t matter so much back then because I was so active. Now I realize I can still be healthy by even eating half as much as I used to in some cases and taking leftovers home from restaurants. By no means am I starving myself, but now i try to eat slower and listen to the voice that tells me I’m actually full instead of ignoring it and saying what the heck I might as well pig out. Now the trick will be to exercise self-control over the holidays :).

    I’m also making an effort to exercise during the week but I’m too good at making excuses – the treadmill is too boring and I’d run outside if it weren’t so cold/rainy. But hey, if I want to be considered a true Seattlelite, I should be able to run Greenlake in the freezing rain, isn’t that why I moved to the west side?

    Anyway I totally agree on the losing weight to be healthy, but not to try and fit the skinny stereotypes in the grocery checkout line magazines – those honestly make me sick. And I was pleasantly surprised to see my hometown of Houston, once the “Fattest City in America” in 2002, doesn’t even rank in the top 20. I guess these kinds of articles can make a difference.

  17. e cho says:

    “Now it’s just a matter of dong it…”


  18. Hi E

    Sorry the weight battle has grabbed you too. I had the same epiphany last spring and decided that i needed to do something about my weight and health. For me as a fellow pastor stress and schedule were big issues for me. I tried several things on my own, but they didn’t do much. I had to be part of a structured program with accountability for it to work with my personality. My insurance gave me a discount on “weight watchers” program and i use the online version. I was working out at least three times a week but nothing was changing. Once i started eating right the work outs paid off and in the last 5 months I have lost 35lbs and feel much better. Once September rolled around and meetings and schedule got crazy again i have stopped losing but have maintained the weight loss. I’m hoping to get back on track after the holidays and lose the last 15 lbs i want. Good luck friend!

  19. […] most of you read my earlier blog entry about some struggles I’ve been having with my weight and more importantly, my wanting to live a more healthier lifestyle.  Through the blog comments and […]

  20. chomama says:

    honey, 155 is good!

  21. yung says:

    so how’s the changing lifestyle going?

    i think you should change your nutrition first. consume more vegies and fruits. no sugary beverages. no fried foods. less red meat and more white meat and fish. not one huge meal, but smaller, more frequent meals containing carbs:protein:healthy fats. i tend to eat something every 3 hours. EAT breakfast, like as soon as you wake up. drink some water and eat something to get the metabolism going.

    even with exercise, if nutrition isn’t right, you might lose weight, but you’re still unhealthy. appearance is deceiving.

    or you can do what i did. train for a marathon and eat as much as you can. :]

  22. Heidi says:

    Thank you for sharing your struggles honestly. That is rare in this area, and something I am struggling to do as well.

    Something I thought worthwhile to point out to the commenters: there are reasons for weight gain other than bad habits, poor nutrition, etc. Not that this is the case with E, but it is the case with many. Please have grace for us. For myself, I gained 20 lbs within 6 weeks of my wedding date. My hormones had been haywire for a few years prior to that, my adrenals were exhausted and my thyroid went kaplunk. I was eating very healthy – organic, whole grains, limited calories (maybe 1700-1800 a day.) True, I wasn’t exercising, but as it turns out, in cases of adrenal exhaustion exercise makes you MORE unhealthy.

    Since I have been sick I have met many sufferers of thyroid and adrenal disease who eat like sparrows yet still gain weight. When there is a problem with your metabolism, the healthiest of habits alone won’t solve the problem, although they are certainly necessary for healing/managing the disease.

    I recently read a great book called The Schwarzbein Principle that is about healing your metabolism. She says “you must be healthy to lose weight” – not the other way around. We must seek to heal our bodies and then our bodies will be able to achieve the ideal body composition…of course to heal a broken metabolism takes good nutrition and proper exercise.

    I just wanted to put things into perspective…I know that people who don’t know me look at me, see that I’m about 60 lbs overweight, and think I must be a lazy slob. It breaks my heart sometimes…especially since I eat healthier than anyone I know (no sugar, mostly organic grass-fed meats and vegetables and fruits, with a small amount of whole grains, nuts, legumes, etc. – no fast food, I can’t even remember the last time I had pizza or potato chips or soda) and I am engaged in a moderate exercise routine. But my metabolism has not yet healed, and no matter what I do I don’t shed a pound. Please have grace for the “fat” people you see, when you don’t know their stories. Sure, there are those who just let bad habits creep up on them, those who would solve their weight problems simply by buckling down, joining a program like Weight Watchers, or going to the gym 3x a week. I’m not among those people, and yet I know that people tend to assume the worst about me because of my weight.

  23. The way they rank the most obese cities is slightly misleading.

  24. Supply and Demand………think about it

  25. […] in shape The hopes I shared several months ago in Health and Weight – to start exercising regularly, stop snacking post 10pm, losing some pounds, and getting back into […]

  26. Ephrayim says:

    Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.

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Thank you, Brooklyn, for the reminder. Umm, @jlin7 is a Christian but he wasn't very Christlike with me on the basketball court. He muscled me into the paint, dunked on me, mentioned my momma, and then said, "Stick with preaching." Just kidding. Kind of.

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The answer to who you serve makes all the difference... It's the day after International Women's Day - and it's still important to celebrate the contribution of women in our lives, society, and world. As we honor women all around the world, I'm also reminded of how women and children are those who are most deeply impacted by injustice - especially poverty.

Sadly, I have witnessed this reality in too many places. ​In 2012, I traveled to a remote area in Eastern Kenya as part of a @onedayswages response to a famine that struck the Horn of Africa region. This famine impacted nearly 13 million people and according to some sources, took the lives of about 250,000 people. During my trip there, I had the chance of meeting many people but the person that still remains in my memory was a Muslim woman named Sahara.

She was so hospitable in inviting us to her small and temporary home. During our conversation, I learned that ​Sahara traveled 300 kilometers (a little under 200 miles) – some by cart and some by foot – as they sought to escape the worst drought that has impacted East Africa (Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia) in the past 60 years.

This is not a misprint.

She traveled about 200 miles on cart and foot. ​And all along, she was ill. If you look closely ​at the photo, you might notice the large lump in her throat - likely a large cancerous tumor.​ She did not travel alone. She traveled with her husband who I was not able to meet because he was staying with one of his five other wives in this polygamist community.  She did not travel alone. She also traveled with her six children – the youngest being about 1 and the oldest being around 8. She had just given birth to her sixth child when they began her journey. Her youngest was severely malnourished when they arrived to this new settlement in a town called Benane. 
Sahara and her children all survived this journey. They survived because she persisted. 
In honor of Sahara...and so many other women who keep...keeping on. I have to remind myself of this every day...because I can forget every day:

Don't be lazy and make assumptions about people. Ask about their story. Then listen. Be humble. Be teachable. Be human. Be a good neighbor. It's a sad reality but our society runs on the currency of fear. Don't feed into this frenzy.

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