In 2005, when physical activity and dieting weren't enough, Dr. John Lemke decided to do something about it. As a family practice physician, he realized that something had to be done when his BMI reached 40. He decided to give himself six months to lose weight through exercise and dieting. But when that six month mark came around, he didn't lose any weight and his BMI increased to 40.5. He decided to ask himself, "if you were your patient, what would you tell yourself?" He had diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and knee pain. At that point, John decided to have bariatric surgery. He thought to himself, "either have the surgery or become part of the couch."
John had a Lap Band placed in 2006 by Dr. Paul Kemmeter. Today, John is extremely happy with his decision and calls it "life changing." Still, he admits it was not an easy journey.
John wants others to know that the Lap Band is for those who want to be physically active with exercise. "It isn't a magic bullet, but is a tool to augment your other efforts," he explains. He said he cannot stress enough the need to be physically active to lose weight. Muscle mass decreases with age and the more muscles a person has, the more calories they can burn. Throughout his weight loss journey, John chose biking as his main form of exercise, something he has been doing for years with his wife Margaret. With a history of biking 2,000 to 3,000 miles per year, John decided to embark on another journey. He will be biking across America with his wife on a tandem bicycle. The couple's adventure across the country starts on June 20 and is a 48 day, seven week adventure. John and his wife will bike 40 out of 48 days and will average 83 miles per day. Their longest distance in one day will be 112 miles. You might ask, why did he decide to do this?
John says he and his wife are doing this for various reasons. His father died of lung cancer, his wife has asthma and it's a good way to keep in shape. Plus, now that the kids are out of the house, the couple can finally do what they have been wanting to do for years. So, how do they fit training for the journey into their schedule? Since his wife is a full time teacher and working to get her master's degree, and John is a physician, they have to use their time wisely. They bike mainly after work, and have been training since December 2010. Their training schedule includes biking one hour three times per week. They also meet with a trainer and do various exercises and other forms of cardiovascular exercises during the week.
If you are wondering how John went from needing bariatric surgery to biking across America, he says the answer is to "start slow." John recommends choosing an exercise you like and building your routine up gradually. For example, he recommends not going out and running five miles right away to avoid getting burned out and defeated. John and his wife started off biking three miles and continued to add on more distance. He says that investing in good, quality equipment for your type of exercise is also important. John has a few bikes to help him on his journey; an upright, a single recumbent and a tandem.