Jeff Cottrell

In 2014, Jeff weighed more than 500 pounds and was suffering from hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. He had watched his mom pass away from complications of obesity when she was only 57 years old and was worried that he was probably facing the same future. Also, his job as an ER nurse was becoming increasingly difficult because he struggled to stand on his feet for the entire shift. Then, in 2015, he watched the documentary Forks Over Knives. The movie had such a profound impact on Jeff that he immediately decided to switch to a plant-based diet. As his weight began to decline, Jeff started walking for exercise. At first he would go to the gym and find a chair that he could set next to the treadmill. He would walk for 5 minutes, then sit down and rest for 5 minutes. Looking back, he says those days were humbling and tough. However, over time, his weight continued to drop and he started adding short jogs to his walks. Jeff ventured to Memorial Park for the first time this past January and says that he now works out almost exclusively at the Park. He feels like the Park provides motivation for him to work hard. He is inspired by the diverse abilities he sees on the trail and says that when he sees people who are not as fit as he is, it encourages him. The day before this picture was taken, Jeff had accomplished a new milestone on his path to a better life: he had run 2 laps around the Park without walking, something that seemed unimaginable even a few months earlier. Now, his goal is to finish a half marathon by the end of the year. Jeff says he enjoys telling people what he has done to lose over 170 pounds in the last year and a half. He has a list of movies that he recommends for anyone who wants to know more about adopting a healthy lifestyle. Also, he signed up for a service that sends him a weekly email with recipes and grocery lists. Finally, he advises everyone that you can visit as many clinics as you want and make as many doctor appointments as you need, but in the end, you are your own primary care provider.