A new weight class — Boone employee honored after losing 90 pounds

By Jacob Luecke

This story is featured in the Fall 2013 edition of myBoone Health magazine. Click here for a free subscription.

One night last year, Aaron Buran had a revelation while watching a UFC fight on television.

It was a heavyweight bout featuring the sport’s strongest hulking fighters. Despite their size, Aaron was surprised to discover he was actually larger than all of them. The weight class tops out at 265 pounds — he weighed 266.

Aaron Buran, after losing 90 pounds.

Aaron Buran, after losing 90 pounds.

“It just hit me one night that I wouldn’t make heavyweight in a UFC fight,” said Aaron, who works as a central services tech at Boone Hospital Center.

He knew it was time for a change.

Buran’s struggles with weight began after reaching adulthood. In high school, he was a talented wrestler who competed in the 130-pound class.

A few years later, he joined the Air Force Reserve. He served at Whiteman Air Force Base where a culture of fitness helped keep him in shape.

But after leaving the Air Force, he stopped working out and started eating fast food.

“That’s when I really started putting on weight,” he said. “You just tend to go and get fast food because it’s so easy.”

Over time, he gradually doubled his high school weight.

Then last year, with support from his wife and coworkers at Boone Hospital, Aaron made a plan to lose the weight. He used an app on his smartphone called MyFitnessPal to track how many calories he was eating. His wife cooked healthy meals for him almost every day.

Aaron also started exercising again.

“I started just jogging in my neighborhood,” he said. “Once I got one mile, I aimed for two.”

Aaron Buran, two years ago.

Aaron Buran, two years ago.

By September, he was ready for his first 5K race. He competed with Boone Hospital’s team during the 2012 Susan G. Komen Mid-Missouri Race for the Cure.

He ran his second 5K on St. Patrick’s Day — in a pouring, frigid rain — and a third this spring.

Along with his running, Aaron has been spending time at Boone Hospital’s WELLAWARE Fitness Center, where he concentrates on cardio exercises.

He said the messages he gets from the WELLAWARE service inspire him to keep on track.

“Just being at WELLAWARE and getting the emails from WELLAWARE about healthy choices—it really makes you start thinking about the choices you make,” he said.

To date, Aaron has lost about 90 pounds. He said he’s comfortable at the weight he’s reached, 172. On the UFC scale, he’d qualify as middleweight, and he’s just off welterweight status.

Aaron, being recognized by the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, Sept. 29.

Aaron, being recognized by the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013.

In honor of his amazing weight loss, Aaron was given Boone Hospital’s Health Hall of Fame award this year. The annual award recognizes one employee who has made a personal commitment to improving his or her health and inspiring those around them. Part of the honor included being recognized on field during a St. Louis Cardinals game.

Aaron’s boss said it’s been amazing to watch Aaron’s progress.

“Aaron is a colleague, an advocate for safety, a veteran and a daily reminder that we can make positive change in our personal lives if we keep working and don’t give up when it gets hard,” said Brian Whorley, business and supply chain manager. “An achievement like his is an inspiration for all of us.”

Although Aaron appreciates the recognition, the best thing about the weight loss is how he feels.

“It really has changed the things I could do just on a day-to-day basis,” he said. “I just have so much more energy.”

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