June 25, 2011

Healthy living becomes a passion for Omaha architect

by Staff, Douglas County Health Department

Four years ago, Brian Spencer had a wake-up moment.

He was looking at photos from a family cruise when he saw that an unhealthy lifestyle had caught up with him. “They say the camera adds 10 pounds. There must have been eight cameras on me,” he jokes.

But to this architect at RDG Planning & Design, who had gained about 50 pounds after he stopped smoking, it wasn’t funny at that time. Just a year earlier, Spencer had blood work done as part of RDG’s wellness program. The results, he remembers, were less than impressive.

Seeing that photo was the jump-start he needed to make a change.

“It was the first tangible reinforcement that I had let things get out of balance,” Spencer says. “I was doing good work, but not great work.”

He found inspiration at work—from co-worker Stuart Shell, an avid biker who makes a daily commute on two wheels. Soon, Spencer found himself building his own bike at the Community Bicycle Shop in Omaha. He started joining Stuart and others for group rides, and he began eating better, too.

His efforts have paid off: Today, Spencer has lost that extra 50 pounds. He regularly rides to RDG on his bike and up to 100 miles every weekend.

“It’s really become my life,” he says. “My wife and I have a new connection over fitness. I work out a couple nights a week with people from work. I ride a lot. All of a sudden, fitness is central to how I define myself.”

And he’s championing a well workplace as his company’s healthy lifestyle committee leader and an enthusiastic proponent of Partners for a Healthy Community.

“I hope my story will get people thinking about their own relationship to food and fitness and mental wellness. Once you own that relationship, you’re responsible for it and you can effect change. With Partners, everybody takes a little ownership in making our city a great place to live and work.”

Active Living, Healthy Eating


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