Portland mayor inspires community to be more active, healthy - WSMV Channel 4

Portland mayor inspires community to be more active, healthy

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PORTLAND, TN (WSMV) -

The city known for it's annual strawberry festival is making headlines for another reason. The mayor of Portland, TN, is turning heads and turning a personal fitness goal into a city-wide initiative.

"You gotta take it one step at a time," said Mayor Ken Wilber. "Zero-in on something. Commit yourself to it. You won't be sorry you did it."

It's taken the mayor of Portland a lot of steps to get here. Step back just 18 months, and you'll see where this journey begins.

When we last interviewed Wilber in January 2012, he weighed nearly 338 pounds. When we caught up with him again this week, he was down to 168 pounds.

"I just wish I'd done it years earlier now," he said.

Wilber says his grandkids were the game changer.

"I've still got a lot ahead of me," he said.

Wilber underwent a sleeve gastrectomy operation, in which doctors at Vanderbilt removed 85 percent of his stomach, curbing his hunger and appetite.

The next step wasn't easy. He changed his eating habits, took up walking and biking and shed 170 pounds.

Now, his initiative has inspired many others in the community. The mayor now holds city-wide walks twice a week.

He's even started a community garden. The city provides the land, and families do the rest.

And there's one more person who took a keen interest in the mayor's weight loss: his wife. Months after his surgery, she had her own and today is down 90 pounds.

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