Those watching NBC’s Today Show on Monday morning may not have recognized the former Waterloo resident they knew from years ago, but he is looking and feeling better than ever before.
That’s because 44-year-old Dale Buettner, a 1987 graduate of Waterloo High School who now resides with his wife in Lexington, Ky., has lost nearly 290 pounds in three years.
And he’s done it the all-natural way: simple diet and exercise.
“I had no expectations at the beginning,” Buettner told the Republic-Times in a Friday phone interview. “My wife started doing Weight Watchers and I just kind of followed along. I saw some results, so I figured I’d keep it going.”
And keep it going, he did. At his heaviest, Buettner weighed around 460 pounds. Today, he is hovering around his target weight of 170 pounds.
“My lifestyle has changed significantly,” he said. “There’s not as much sitting on the couch.”
Buettner, the son of Bernell and the late Don Buettner of Waterloo, said he was looking for a way to share his success story with a mass audience. He filled out an online form on NBC’s website, and they contacted him pretty quickly.
On Monday, Buettner became the newest member of Today Show nutritionist Joy Bauer’s “Joy Fit Club,” appearing live on the air with TV personalities Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb.
“It didn’t even look like my son,” Bernell Buettner said of her reaction to seeing Dale on TV. “I’m so very proud of him.”
The brief TV segment highlighted Buettner from his early years in Waterloo to today. In first grade, his mother had to make a special little league uniform that would fit her son. By sixth grade, Buettner weighed 200 pounds.
His weight fluctuated in high school and college, but by the time he was in graduate school, he weighed 300 pounds. It just elevated from there.
By the time he had reached his heaviest weight, Buettner said he’d “lost all hope of anything ever changing.”
In addition to diet and exercise — Buettner praises the Lose It! web application that tracks calories and keeps a person motivated to lose weight — he stressed the key for him was identifying and working on underlying spiritual and emotional issues that contributed to his obesity throughout the years.
For Buettner, it was a sense of abandonment and false perception that he had to do everything on his own.
“In first grade, my dad was a trucker and was home less and less, so I didn’t see him much,” Buettner told the Republic-Times. “I also lost my grandpa, so I started compensating for this with food.”
Buettner credits his church for helping him deal with these issues as part of what has become a massive life transformation.
After successfully completing his first half-marathon in March, Buettner is now setting his sights on yet another lofty goal.
“I plan to train and run a full marathon in the fall,” he said.
Given his string of recent success, it would be hard to bet against Buettner accomplishing that feat.
To view a video of Buettner’s Today Show performance and read more on his amazing story, visit www.facebook.com/dalebuettner.therealme.