Regaining Control

By Bill Koch

RYAN KOSLEN has been subjected to unflattering comments about his weight for most of his life. He heard them when he was a kid and from fans on the road when he walked across the field. He tried to act like he didn’t hear them, but he did. He heard them all.

Today, after losing 196 pounds in 12 months, Koslen hears mostly compliments from his family, friends, colleagues and reporters who cover the University of Cincinnati athletic program.

Koslen, 39, has struggled with his weight since he was a kid growing up in Mayfield Heights outside Cleveland. He’s always known he should do something about it, but never was able to take the first step until a year ago. Finally, after being prodded by UC Director of Athletics Mike Bohn and Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director (AD) Karen Hatcher, he decided the time had arrived to take action and enrolled in the non-surgical weight loss program at UC Health’s Weight Loss Center in West Chester.

It was a huge step for Koslen, a UC associate AD and the primary media contact for football since he arrived from Houston in 2008.

“I was afraid if I told people I was doing it and I failed, that wouldn’t have been good for me from a medical standpoint,” Koslen said. “I probably would have felt even worse. And then lo and behold, I think I lost seven or eight pounds in about five days. I was all in after that. I was off and running.”

In the last year, he’s seen his weight drop from 441 pounds to 245. He’s lost so much weight that sometimes acquaintances he hasn’t seen for awhile don’t recognize him at first glance. He’s been asked more than once if he’s been sick.

“My favorite thing of all time was when somebody a few weeks ago said they were worried that I might have a problem because I was getting too skinny,” Koslen said. “File that under something I never thought I’d hear. That was enjoyable.”

Koslen said he no longer craves sweets. He used to eat a lot of heavy textured and fried foods. Now he’s into fresh vegetables and salads.

The journey has already changed his life, but Koslen understands that it’s just beginning.

“This is gonna be a long-term deal,” he said. “You always worry that it could crop back up, so you’ve got to be diligent.”

Koslen has more energy. His risk of diabetes is gone and his blood pressure has fallen to normal levels. And now he has even more motivation not to let himself fall back to where he was. In June, his twin sister, Marnie Younker, had a baby boy that she named Simon. Koslen is Simon’s godfather and he’s determined to watch him grow up.

“You see people all around dying from weight issues,” he said. “I didn’t want to be a statistic.”

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