Interview with Paul Gratkowski: Picky eater grows up to go from obesity to fitness, learning to like veggies along the way

Nov 4, 2010 by

Interview with Paul Gratkowski: Picky eater grows up to go from obesity to fitness, learning to like veggies along the way

This year will be the third year in a row that Paul Gratkowski, 44, will bike over 10,000 miles.  Today, he’s obviously in great shape. He also now loves eating healthy. But Paul grew up as a picky eater, and ten years ago, he was “on the road to an early grave,” as his doctor told him.

He started out young, biking a lot, and made some epic bike trips in his 20s, including going from Los Angles to Boston in 42 days, averaging 82 miles a day. But he couldn’t keep it up once he hit his 30s.

“I had to come to terms with the fact that my body would not allow me to continue to smoke and drink and to eat poorly, and to exercise at that level,” he said. “The booze, bad food, and cigarettes took over and I ballooned up to just under 300 pounds.”

I asked Paul, almost 100 pounds lighter today, about picky eating and his journey to health and healthy eating today.

SA: So you were a picky eater as a child? What’s the difference today?

Paul: Since I am such a health nut now I eat food for what it does for my body instead of what it tastes like.

SA: That’s kind of sad. It’s great if you can have both.

Paul: I do like veggies now.

SA: How did you learn to like veggies?

Paul: I prepare them in a way that I can enjoy them more, in Chinese food, for example. I like it fresh and crispy. I rediscovered asparagus. I now sauté it with garlic and it is one of my favorites that way. Sauteed asparagus is like a totally different animal than the way it was served when I was a child. It is crisp, not mushy. I use a low-fat spray with chopped garlic… so simple.

SA: OK, I like that approach. Preparing healthy food so it tastes good. Isn’t that what everybody should be doing?

Paul: I am down 85 pounds in seven years, so people are always asking me about what I eat. Believe it or not I am the food authority around here!

SA: How did you come to make that change?

Paul: The doctor gave me a “come-to-Jesus” talk. I would probably be dead by now if I hadn’t changed. He said I wouldn’t live past 50. Nearly every lab test was bad. I had high blood pressure, and was on the verge of developing diabetes. I decided to make some major changes in my life. I totally gave up alcohol and cigarettes. I started the long road back to fitness. Most of it came off with an insane amount of exercise. I also owe some credit to Weight Watchers. I have been a member for five plus years and am currently a lifetime member. I’m also a recovering alcoholic, still in Alcoholics Anonymous. I am now in the best shape of my life at 44. All of my lab tests are now good, my blood pressure is normal, and I have an extremely low resting pulse rate: in the high 40’s to low 50’s on most days. I helped a friend move recently and I did the work of the three 20-somethings who were also there helping. I would keep moving while they took a smoking break. I feel as if I have regained my youth!

SA: That is awesome that you eat smart and lost all the weight, got in shape and enjoy eating well. That’s a great success story.

Paul: Ah, geez.


Posts about picky eaters:

How to get kids to eat at the table: The Push-Pull Principle

Picky kids and the codependent mom: three tips to break the cycle