Recent Detroit Lakes graduate takes off over 100 poundsDETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Detroit Lakes graduate Shane Olson is barely recognizable to old classmates these days.
By: Paula Quam, Forum Communications, INFORUM
DETROIT LAKES, Minn. - Detroit Lakes graduate Shane Olson is barely recognizable to old classmates these days.
“A lot of them don’t even know it’s me — they’ll look real close and be like ‘is that really you?,’” said Olson, who graduated in 2010.
That’s because the now 20-year-year old is half the man he use to be.
“I’ve lost 104 pounds,” said Olson, who just got back from San Diego, representing the state of Minnesota for the TOPS organization.
TOPS, which stands for “Take Off Pounds Sensibly,” is an international organization that helps overweight individuals shed pounds by taking on a healthier lifestyle.
Olson joined the group back in 2008 begrudgingly.
“My grandma made me join,” said Olson, “I didn’t want to at the time.”
The TOPS meetings are held once a week at Trinity Lutheran in Detroit Lakes, but according to Olson, members were way older than he was.
“I was the only kid in there,” he said.
But the support he got from his grandma, Charlotte Olson, and other members there started to turn into personal results for the young man, who had topped out at 321 pounds his sophomore year in high school.
Although Olson says he had always been “a big kid,” medication he started taking in the sixth grade increased his appetite tremendously.
“But even once I stopped taking those meds, I stayed hungry and just kept eating a lot,” said Olson.
Teasing and humiliation was a way of life for the shy and overweight Olson.
“It was bad,” he said. “It was really bad.”
Olson lost some weight through TOPS, but because he says he “wasn’t really that into it,” his weight went up and down.
But two days after he graduated from high school, things changed.
“I was down at the beach, and I never really did a lot of swimming or anything because I never wanted to take my shirt off,” said Olson, who had on that day decided to do so, “and I remember there were a bunch of kids there … some were my age, some were a little younger.”
According to Olson, the horrible things those kids were saying about him finally “got into his head.”
“And I just decided I didn’t want to look like that anymore,” said Olson. “It just clicked for me.”
From that day on, Olson started putting down his video games and picking up his bike more. Although he didn’t necessarily change the type of things he ate, he cut down on the portions dramatically.
“I used to eat two of those Totinos Party Pizzas by myself,” said Olson, “and now I’ll either have one or just half of one.”
The weight began to drop off Olson’s tall 6 foot 5 frame, which he says was good, but it left him with things “hanging.”
“So I drank a lot of water — I mean, a lot of water,” he said, “and that just tightened everything back up.”
With results then visible, Olson continued to make the TOPS meetings, which he said he grew to really like as he learned more and more about how many calories he should be consuming and how to really change his lifestyle.
“The people there got me through it,” said Olson. “Just their encouragement and knowing somebody was there that really cared about me and wanted to see me change my life.”
Olson changed his life so much, he was crowned king for the Minnesota division of TOPS — an honor that goes to whomever loses the most weight and keeps it off for a year.
He was recognized at an international conference in San Diego recently, and although he is still a shy guy by nature, Olson says his confidence level has shot way up.
“I’ll never forget that moment that I fit into a 32 size pants because I always wore 44,” said Olson. “When I buttoned up those pants, I had never felt that way.”
Now at 180 pounds (which Olson hasn’t been since sixth grade), the tall, lean young man still admits he struggles with his old eating habits.
“Every single day,” he said, “Sometimes it gets out of control because I’m used to eating a lot at one time. But now, if I start to stuff my face, I catch myself. It’s still something I deal with every single day, though.”
Olson, who just moved to Fargo, now has a couple of new goals — to find a career in big-rig mechanics and to join the National Guard.
“I just signed up two days ago,” he said.
And while Olson will likely never forget the awful words and teasing he endured while walking in his bigger body, it may be the very thing that keeps him from gaining it all back.
“I think to myself every day that I do not want to go back there — I do not want to be the kid in those old pictures again,” said Olson. “But if I could inspire just one kid to change his life like this, that’s what will make me feel better.”
To find out more on TOPS, check out one of the meetings at Trinity Lutheran in Detroit Lakes on Thursday mornings at 9 a.m. or call Charlotte Olson at 847-2078.
The cost is $26 a year.