Critterman's Incredible Weight Loss Story

Critterman with Peter Gros of
Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.
I weighed in at 208lbs at only 5' 6" tall.
This is where I began my journey.

Critterman with Rob Schneider
at an Angel Network fundraiser.
After 6 months of dedication,
I had lost 68lbs and weighed 140lbs.

I am sharing my weight loss story for two reasons.

First to share my success, in hopes that it will help to inspire someone else that they can lose weight. There are many different ways people have lost weight. This is my story.

Second. If anyway my story helps or inspires you. Maybe you can help support our organization. We present wildlife education programs, and care for over 65 animals at our facility in Texas.  There are many schools and groups that cannot afford our programs.  For every dollar that is sent, that dollar will go to providing programs for those schools and groups. To make a donation, click here to contact us. Thank you.

You should consult a physician with any weight loss program. This story is how I lost my weight.


Critterman's Weight Loss Story

For as long as I can remember, I had been overweight.  When I was a kid, most would just say I was pudgy. I never wanted to be seen with my shirt off for fear of being teased. As a boy that loved sports, this would always come up with those shirts vs. skins football or street hockey games.

My name is David Kleven. I have become known to many as Critterman. But as a kid I heard them all. I was probably 20 to 30lbs overweight as a kid. The name that tortured me most was "mini blimp."  I realize now, that kids that more overweight then I was, probably had it that much worse. I also have looked back to where I first became overweight.

When I was born, I was considered average. By the time I was two, our doctor was concerned that I was too thin. He suggested that my mother give me malts and shakes. It did work to put weight on me. It also started a life long struggle.

The Trigger

Everyone that is overweight goes through the ups and downs of "I'm happy just being me, this is who I am" to "Why can't I just lose the weight, I want to just be average."

When I was overweight I went through these feelings constantly. I would try and eat better, then fall of the diet wagon hard. I had all sorts of advice. Exercise more, eat more fruits and vegetables, portion control. Those are things that are obvious, but how do you make it work for you?

First I had to have a trigger, that single event that tells you better make a change or else. Sometimes we have several smaller potential triggers, that never take hold. I had gall bladder disease, and had my gall bladder removed, and I wore a C-Pap machine for sleep apnea. Both can be attributed to being over weight.

For me The Trigger was a requirement that I get a physical with a full blood work-up. I didn't want to do it, because I knew the doctor was going to lecture me about my weight, and what changes I needed to make.

I wasn't disappointed, after the weigh in at 214lbs (Yes I weighed even more right after going through the holidays, before I slimmed back down to post holiday weight of 208lbs) I got the lecture. I'm sure I said a lot of "yes, I knows" and "uh huhs", but for the most part I tuned it out. The last thing he told me was that they would have the results of the blood work in about a week, and if there were any problems, he would have me come back in.

I was called back in. The results could have been worse, My cholesterol was over 200, I don't remember the exact amount anymore, I think 216.  What I do remember are things like "heart disease, stroke, and diabetes ". 

When I got home, I gave my wife a replay of my visit with the doctor. I remember some "I told you so" and "you've got to change." But more then anything it were the tears. The tears and her fear of what might happen to me. We have a daughter. I started to think about what I might miss, for no good reason, if didn't make a change.

The Key Ingredient

I was now determined to make a change, but how to actually make it work. I looked at all different books, all around the internet. In the past I had tried over the counter diet pills, even some of those products you hear and see commercials for.

The Key Ingredient for me came from the Dr. Dean Edell show that is on weekend radio in Dallas. He had a call with some question relating to weight loss.  The piece of wisdom that hit home for me was his explanation that its really all about calories.  Calories in and calories out. How many do you consume, how many do you use.  He said that for many people that are not as active, they can lose weight simply by cutting calories. This was the one piece of information that helped me to succeed.  A simple Google search told me that approximately 2500 calories are the daily recommended.

The Critterman Diet Plan

Counting calories. That was my idea. If I ate 1/2 of the daily calories, I would lose weight, without adding exercise. But I knew for this to really work, I was going to have to work with the idea of not denying myself my favorite foods. More on the foods in a minute.

Exercise was not initially a part of the plan. I am one of those people that have a job that usually requires me to be on my feet, moving, most of the day.  Working with animals is a 7 day a week job, and we live out in the country.  I didn't think there was anyway to work regular visits into town. 

My daughter wanted to "help" daddy lose the weight, and had learned at school something that would help, exercise. So to add a little exercise, while sharing some of quality time with her, we would have contest.  Push-ups and sit-ups. No expensive equipment needed, and we can do it on the family room floor.

It started with an "easy" goal of 20 of each.  Hard for a 6 year old, I had no idea how hard it would be for me. I was sweating and breathing hard, and just barely reached 20 of each.  What I found out though, over time, if I just did them with her, or when I was watching TV, it only took a handful of minutes of my time. After it was not quite a schedule do to 20, I decided to add 5 of each, each day. I would do them in repetitions of 10 or 20. By the time I had lost the weight, I could do 600 sit-ups and 200 pushups just while watching television.

Apples & Bananas

I almost never ate breakfast, sometimes rarely lunch.  But when I did eat late in the day, I would make up for it.  If the calorie counting thing was going to work, I had to make it easy for the first two meals of the day. I had thought about breakfast bars, or granola bars. Easy to keep track of calories, but would use a lot the 1200 maximum I was going to eat.

I looked to my favorite foods list for the healthiest things. Apples and bananas. For me, they are like the candy of the fruit world. I definitely have a sweet tooth, and I think this choice helped in cutting out the cravings for as many sweets.

A little research told me that an apple has 65 to 110 calories depending on size and type, and bananas have 80 to 115 calories depending on size.

That calorie range is 1/3 to 1/2 the calories of most of the breakfast bars I consider tasty. I figured this is perfect, when I would leave for the day, I would grab two or three of each.

Don't deny the hunger monster

I would eat one piece of fruit when I first got going. Easy to bring with.  Every time I felt hungry, I would eat. I would one or the other every two hours or so, so that by the time dinner came around I had eaten 300 to 600 calories.

My reward was to eat dinner and desert, and eat my favorite foods. The hard part you would think is to still stay under 1200 calories. Here is something I wish everyone knew - If you eat all day, every two hours your metabolism speeds up.  If apples are among those foods, you are eating one of natures best natural hunger depressant. It satisfies you.

I didn't feel like I was starving by dinner time. All I had to do was to look at the back of the packages of my food. How many calories in that pizza, how about in the ingredients for 1 taco.  By looking at the calories in a serving, I was able to eat my favorite foods.  If I wanted desert, I would eat one. One piece of whatever it was. As long as the calories were no more then 400 to 600. I also discovered the wonders of a salad. Lettuce & spinach are like free calories. You can really fill up on a big leafy salad. I would add some of my other favorite veggies in (I have learned to love raw broccoli), and add Salsa. Yes, salsa. Adds a lot more flavor then those fat free dressings, and without adding a lot of calories.

In choosing my deserts, I went for my favorites also, cookies, pudding, and of course ice cream. But how to keep a handle on thing? Read the labels and by single serving units.  With cookies I would just count out how many calories I had left over, and have it add up to 1200.  Pudding cups are around a hundred calories, and individual ice cream cups while more expensive, they are worth it in the long run. Each cup had 180 calories.

Late Night Munchies

For many people, everything up until this point, they can handle. But then the late night munchies ruin all her good behavior. Don't worry - For me it was apple to the rescue. If I ate an apple whenever those hunger pains arose, which was rare, it satisfied me.

Example of meals on one day.

8am Apple 100 Calories
10:30am Banana 100 Calories
12:30pm Apple 100 Calories
3pm Banana 100 Calories
4:30pm Apple 100 Calories
5:30pm 1 pc Pizza
350 Calories
100 Calories
6:30pm Ice cream cup 180 Calories
  Total Calories 1130


Two Weeks & Stepping on the Scale

Two weeks, If you can make yourself stick to the change for that long, it becomes easy. After that period of time, it became part of my new routine. I didn't think about it as much, I just did it.  I also stepped on the scale everyday. Yes every day good or bad. I did this because it reminded me of my goal, to lose weight.  I was rewarded a 1/2  to 1 notch on the scale every morning.  The first week I lost 5 pounds, the second week I lost another 6 pounds, I was UNDER 200LBS for the first time in a long time.

I decided to set a goal. First it was to reach my pre-marriage weight of 180lbs. As that weight started to approach, I decided to keep going, and reach my high school weight of 170lbs.  As this weight approached, I decided to find out what should I weigh.  Another Google search took me to several charts that said that an Adult Male, 5' 6" tall with a medium build, should weigh between 139 to 151lbs.  I decided to shoot for the lower end of that range.

By September 2003, six months after I began, I had lost 68 lbs. I felt great. I soon realized that  my quick reduction in size threw people off that had not seen me since I had started. Some were concerned that I was ill. I realized that 140lbs was probably too much for me. I have allowed myself to stay at upper end of that range.

March 2006 will mark three years since I began the journey. I am proud to say that today I weigh a 150lbs. I eat around 2000 calories a day, but I don't count them as much. I still step on the scale everyday, and I never let myself get more then 5 lbs over my recommended weight. I have pictures throughout the house of the old me, and the new me side by side. It helps to remind how far I have come, and where I want to stay.

I am able to enjoy life so much more knowing that I am healthy.  I have also been able to cheat. At holidays, on the weekends, every once in a while have an extra portion. I have those malts once in a while. No whenever said to stop and taste the malts in life, but I understand "Stop and smell the roses."  For many people that struggle with weight, we have a hard time pulling ourselves away from those "roses", but I have found my way to make those fewer times when I indulge, that much more enjoyable.  I can enjoy really good food even more knowing that it is not killing me.


If anyway my story helps or inspires you. Maybe you can help support our organization. We present wildlife education programs, and care for over 65 animals at our facility in Texas.  There are many schools and groups that cannot afford our programs.  For every dollar that is sent, that dollar will go to providing programs for those schools and groups. To make a donation, click here to contact us. Thank you.

You should consult a physician with any weight loss program.


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