PORTSMOUTH--Kenneth Wright wants his constituents to know it is not easy being the mayor, and it's really difficult being a mayor who is trying to drop 200 pounds with the entire community watching everything you eat.
On July 4th alone, the mayor attended eight cook-outs, and Wright says he managed to avoid fried foods and sugary drinks.
When adding food to his plate from the salad bar at a local restaurant, Wright says other customers will often strongly advise him to avoid pasta salads and calorie rich toppings.
Wright has been on a health improvement plan for five months now, and he has called on the entire city of Portsmouth to collectively drop a half million pounds.
When the mayor launched the program in February, he weighed a more than 400 pounds. During a routine check on July 8 with Bon Secours Medical Group physician Dr. Alison Christian-Taylor, Wright checked in at 364 pounds, for a weight loss of nearly 60 pounds.
In addition, his Body Mass Index is down to 46, from a morbid category of 51. BMI is a calculation doctors use to assess health, and Wright's BMI should check in at 25 or less. Recent blood work shows other signs of improved health. Wright is diabetic, and in 2010 his critical A1c blood sugar level was 11.9. Earlier this month, Wright's A1c dropped to a safe level of 5.8.
A total lifestyle change has produced the improvements. Wright sets aside a day to shop and prepare healthy meals at home, instead of eating out. He drinks only water, avoids fried foods, and consumes a wide variety of fresh vegetables and fruits.
If you have trouble finding the mayor at City Hall, take a look in a Portsmouth neighborhood. Wright walks more than two miles daily, and often with community and church leaders.
Wright says he appreciates the support he's getting from constituents and mayors from neighboring cities.