Fred Schenck, a retired human resources executive for Cunard Line, was cruising along in retirement.
He had enjoyed a high-profile career working for Donald Trump, New York City mayor David Dinkins and the Kennedy administration. Yet now, Fred was enjoying his life on the West Coast of Florida. An avid golfer, he and his wife Quinta also liked to travel, particularly enjoying—what else?—cruises.
So, he was a bit dismissive a few years ago when his doctor suggested that to lower his blood pressure, Fred should take off some weight.
“I ignored him,” Fred admits. “I was married to Mrs. Haagen Dazs and I couldn’t see myself changing. I just thought that high blood pressure was a fairly typical complaint.”
At 5-foot, 10-inches, Fred’s top weight was 228 pounds. He dealt with the situation by making sure his clothes fit well and flattered his frame. Yet even his tailor had something to say. “He'd tell me, ‘Schenck, take off the weight,’” Fred says. But still, he thought nothing of downing a half pint of ice cream every night.
Fred’s penchant for sweets had its roots in childhood. “There was a drugstore on my newspaper route," he recalls. "Every time I earned an extra 35 or 40 cents, I’d stop at the soda fountain for ice cream sodas or milk shakes.”
As Deputy Undersecretary of Commerce for President Kennedy, Fred mingled in the Beltway’s social circles. And, his career in high-end leisure and travel businesses did nothing to curb his appetites. “In the hotel business I had free reign in five different restaurants. I could eat anything at any time,” Fred says. “You develop bad habits that way.”
In March 2007, Fred’s doctor spoke up again. Fred’s glucose levels indicated that he might be developing diabetes. This time, Fred listened.
At his then-current weight of 216 pounds, not only did Fred “divorce Mrs. Haagen Dazs,” but he went a step further. Humorously, he calls his approach “avoiding the whites.” Here’s what disappeared from his diet: white flour, white rice, sugar and some dairy. It took a little re-education. After all, Fred reasoned, isn’t “enriched flour” good for you?
Fred and his wife substituted higher fiber, whole grain “brown” products—brown rice and whole wheat flour. Fortunately, Quinta enjoys cooking this way. “She loves these kinds of challenges,” Fred says.
And, Fred curbed his appetite for sweets. “We have a number of lovely candy dishes, and they’re all empty,” Fred notes, with both pride and wistfulness. In addition, Fred began to walk in his golf community 40 to 45 minutes a day.
Over eight months, Fred brought his weight down to 188 pounds and lost two inches off his waist. “I made my tailor happy,” Fred says. “I sent two jackets back to have them altered for my new size.”
Not only that, but by grounding his diet in high-fiber whole grains, he has moderated the sugar rushes of white flour and sugar. He takes a low dose of blood pressure medication, but his doctor hasn’t mentioned diabetes again.
These days, Fred gets his rushes from a different source—compliments. “I was at a function recently and someone said to me, ‘Fred, you look 15 years younger,'” he says. “That feels good. ”