Personal struggle taken to the finish line
Maintaining a healthy body weight has always been a challenge for the chiropractor, who has a practice in his native Milton-Freewater.
In fourth grade, he weighed 160 pounds. Later, making the cut in school sports was an incentive for the beginning of years of yo-yo dieting, Simpson said.
"I would live for the event and go on a restrictive diet for whatever was coming up I needed to look good for, but never make a lifestyle change," he noted recently on his Web site.
By last Christmas, Simpson saw the scale register 295 pounds, which dovetailed with his struggle to breathe while tying his shoes, a reluctance to ride bikes with his children and difficulty in performing the physical manipulations required in his profession.
When a longtime friend suggested Simpson participate in a company's six-month "2009 IsaBody Challenge," it gave him the impetus to try again, the practitioner noted. "I was dragging my feet ... he said 'Give it a try, you'll have something to shoot for.'"
Like a cannon. From the beginning of January to June 15, Simpson lost 101 pounds. Isagenix, the company that sponsored the competition and makes the weight-loss products Simpson uses, declared the Milton-Freewater man to be the grand winner. It will be in town in the near future to film him at work and play.
And play he does, according to Lucas Simpson, 15. While his dad's weight loss was harder to see on an day-by-day basis, Ken's willingness to work out all summer alongside his son was evidence the program was having an impact.
"Now he rides bikes with us, which he hadn't done since we moved here," Lucas said.
The new look of her husband has been an emotional and relationship adjustment, Mindy said. "I've never seen him this thin and sometimes it's a challenge. He's done every diet out there, and it was always up and down, up and down. So it was like 'go ahead and do this,' thinking it was just one more thing."
"One more thing" has led to many more things, she explained. "We've actually saved money by not eating out. We're a family of five and that's a lot of money when we go out."
Too, her children -- which includes Lucas; Chandler, 11, and Mekenna, 7 -- are more aware of snacking habits as she has learned more about nutritional value, Mindy said.
Yet creating a new way of eating can sometimes be tough on established households, Mindy pointed out. "At times I get frustrated, when I make a meal and (Ken) is not eating it. Any woman would feel it. It was difficult because I was not doing what he was doing."
She didn't mind taking on the role of wardrobe adviser, however. Ken has lost 17 inches from around his waist so far, making new pants with a size 36 waist a necessity.
"I was a 44 waist, a tight 44, that's with squeezing (pants) on and letting the fat fall over the top," he recalled.
"And should we talk about all the times you had to come home because you ripped your pants," Mindy queried her husband with a grin.
"Yep, I did," Ken replied, heading out to tend his barbecuing chicken.
Isagenix rewarded 2009's best loser. Deemed grand winner of 18 finalists in his age group, the company cut Ken a check for $10,000.
Some of that may go for new clothes in smaller sizes for Dad, but the Simpsons have other plans, as well.
"I tithed 10 percent to my church, and we're going to do some landscaping and take a couple of trips," Ken said.
In the meantime, he's learning to negotiate with regular food and in real-life situations. The couple took a cruise in March, where Ken ate whatever he wanted, he said. "I planned to enjoy myself."
He also dines out with the family - "I just make healthier choices."
And there's the Doritos.
Since the competition ended, Ken has lost four more pounds. "My goal was 100 pounds, to get to 195. I'm at 190. I haven't been in the 200s since 17 years ago."
He couldn't have done it without his family, Simpson pointed out as he loaded a dinner plate with grilled chicken, cubed watermelon, a salad of mixed greens, corn on the cob and a chunk of toasty baguette.
"I want to be around and healthy for me and my family for a long time. Through the whole process of losing weight and inches and becoming healthy again, my family was my rock and motivator. I can't think of any better motivator than to be healthy for yourself and those you love."