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The photos that appeared on CNN.com’s iReport show Keith Trotter at his top weight, left, and working to take it off. (Submitted photos)
The photos that appeared on CNN.com’s iReport show Keith Trotter at his top weight, left, and working to take it off. (Submitted photos)

Keith Trotter’s weight-loss story inspires people around the world

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life River Falls, 54022

River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Keith Trotter began blogging about his efforts to lose weight simply to hold himself accountable.

“I journal a lot. I used to write a lot. I was always writing music and poetry, so it was just natural for me to journal,” he explains.

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After deciding to do something about his weight when it ballooned to 386 pounds, Trotter noticed that a lot of his journal entries were about his weight-loss journey.

He started putting those entries in a blog titled “100 Small Steps,”  www.100smallsteps.com, and labeling them with tags such as nutrition, body mass index and obesity.

A payment operations manager for Medica health plans, his idea was to approach weight loss the way he tackled business problems. He would do research, think about what he could do better, take action, and then write about what worked and what didn’t.

That was close to three years and 149 pounds ago. He now weighs 237. His goal is to get down to 205 pounds.

In the beginning, he was his blog’s only reader, Trotter says with a laugh.

Then through social media and friends he began to attract a following.

It mushroomed when CNN.com featured his story on its iReport at the end of September.

“It has been absolutely crazy for me,” Trotter said when he met with a Star-Observer reporter last Friday. “The story has really resonated with and touched people.”

He’s now had 50,000-plus hits on his blog and his Facebook page has attracted more than 100,000 views.

The CNN story has brought readers from 80 countries and every inhabited continent to his blog.

Now Bershan Shaw of the Oprah Winfrey Network is featuring a three-minute video of Trotter telling his story on her urawarrior.com website.

By the end of the year, Morgan James Publishing will release the first of three books that Trotter has written.

Decision point

The moment of decision for the 42-year-old Trotter came when a photo of himself at a 2009 New Year’s Eve party appeared on his Facebook timeline.

He was wearing size 60 pants and a plate of food was in his hand.

“I don’t have a neck. I don’t have a lap … I look like a swollen pig,” Trotter told CNN reporter Daphne Sashin. “Why hasn’t someone just slapped me with something heavy and said, ‘You’re going to die. You look awful’?”

He began his effort by purchasing pre-made meals and protein shakes, but quickly realized he didn’t have “the desire or money to eat out of box” his entire life, Trotter told CNN.

He read books about the underlying causes of obesity and proven weight-loss strategies. He got counseling to confront past disappointments and some physical and psychological abuse as a child.

Raised in a military family, his mother fled his father when he was a child, taking him and his siblings with her.

He graduated from Romeoville High School, about 20 miles southwest of Chicago, and then attended Benedictine University on a classical voice scholarship.

He graduated with a major in music education and a minor in finance. His dream was to be an opera singer after college. He’s thankful now that he also studied finance.

His employment brought him and his family to the Twin Cities in 1998. He and his wife, Rebecca, lived in Wayzata before moving to the town of Warren with their five children (ages 4-18) six or seven years ago.

One of the things that attracted him to the area, Trotter said, was a greeting he received on his first visit to North Hudson. He had been invited to a backyard barbecue and was walking down the street to the house when Stan Wekkin, now the village president, said hello to him.

No one in the Wayzata neighborhood where he was living had ever said hello to him, Trotter said. He thought Wekkin was talking to someone else and turned around to check.

Wekkin responded, “No, you.”

“And we’ve been friends ever since,” Trotter reported.

“If you had told me years and years and years ago I was going to be a western Wisconsin river rat and loving it, I would have told you you were crazy,” he said.

Trotter’s blog contains the things he did (and is doing) to lose weight and keep it off. Many of them are commonsense things people have heard before -- drink more water, chew your food well, don’t shop when you are hungry, exercise…

He counts his young daughters (ages 4, 7 and 8) as his best exercise partners.

“It was easy to (exercise) with them at home, because whatever you did was good,” Trotter said. “As opposed to going down to the gym and squeezing yourself into some machine, and showing everybody your morbid obesity.”

People look at him differently now that he is slimmer, he said.

“People are judging you by your appearance all the time,” he said. “And that first impression -- in your personal life, in your professional life -- is always key.”

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