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February 10th, 2011
04:49 PM ET

Pediatrician 'tris' to practice what he preaches

In the 2011 Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge , six selected viewers will  participate in a six-month training program. Each will receive all the gear, training and nutritional support necessary to complete the race and will compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta on August 7 in the Nautica New York City Triathlon.

Talking about health and fitness is a way of life for Dr. Scott Zahn, a 46-year-old pediatrician from Green Bay, Wisconsin.

In fact, Scott spends all day talking about it with his overweight patients and their parents, but he himself is not fit.

“I’ve been part of ‘unfit nation’ for many years – I’ve struggled with my weight. It’s gone up and down,” he said. "As a pediatrician I should set a better example for my patients,"

So when he visited his own doctor in December after many years of not going, he was not entirely surprised by what the doctor had to say.

“I left that appointment on three new medications – two for my blood pressure, and one for my cholesterol,” he said. “I have a very strong family history of both cardiac disease and diabetes, so I’m set up to have both of those problems unless I make a change now.”

So, Scott decided it was now, or never for him.

The father of four immediately started making healthier food choices, began running and biking indoors, and submitted his application for the CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge.

“When the call came from Dr. Gupta I was starting to get comfortable with the routine,” he said. “It was now time to start taking it up a notch.”

He hit the gym even harder, and before coming to Atlanta for the CNN team’s kickoff weekend, he had already lost 25 pounds.

“I have seen great results,” he wrote to CNN producers. “Recently, my physician cut one of my medications in half, and is considering stopping one of the two blood pressure medications that I am currently taking.”

After a successful kickoff weekend, Scott has returned to Green Bay, and with the help of his trainer Corey Kuzner, is excited to keep racking up the wins.

“Just like the Green Bay Packers' pursuit of the Lombardi Trophy, the ‘six-pack’ is working towards a common goal – crossing the finish line at the 2011 NYC triathlon. I can’t let my teammates down!” he said.

“I see the NYC triathlon as a huge challenge, but I look forward to it, and I think it would be a good step towards a healthier lifestyle.”


soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. charles s

    Good luck, it is a hard road ahead.

    February 10, 2011 at 17:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Kevin M

    I don't understand the use of the statin. If you are already making healthier lifestyle choices the cholesterol will drop the natural way. There is no scientific basis for artificially (with drugs) lowering cholesterol if you have not already had an adverse cardiovascular event. This is because the connection between cholesterol and adverse events is correlative and not causative.

    I'm happy he is getting his life in order and becoming a better role model for his young and easily influenced patient base but articles like this only propagate the myths about statin drug use laid forth by people making lots of money pushing this drug class on millions of sheeple.

    February 10, 2011 at 20:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MD

      There are numerous studies that show that the incidence of vascular disease, including coronary artery disease, is reduced by the use of statin therapy. Here is one such article: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa011090#t=article. Have you ever read any medical literature? Apparently you don't, so why make blanket statements about there being "no scientific basis" to use lipid-lowering drugs? It is widely accepted in the medical field that statins lower the incident of cardiac events. Furthermore, some people are genetically prone to higher cholesterol than others, and need the medication. This explains why some people can eat greasy foods their entire lives and never get a heart attack, and others suffer one despite their best attempts to be healthy. Additionally, simvastatin is generic and cheap. You can either choose to pay a few dollars every month for simvastatin, or have a heart attack and pay tens of thousands of dollars for a coronary stent plus the Plavix you'll have to take afterwards, or coronary artery bypass surgery.

      If you think this is purely money driven then you are ignorant. Doctors get paid way more for stents than for simvastatin prescriptions. Yes, pharmaceutical companies will make money, but as mentioned before,simvastatin is generic and relatively cheap. If you get an infection, are you going to refuse antibiotics because you don't want drug companies to make a few bucks off amoxicillin?

      February 10, 2011 at 23:23 | Report abuse |
    • sonas76

      *sighs*
      Call me a 'sheeple' then. I eat a very healthy diet, excercise, etc., and am only 37, BUT I have an alarming chol. level. I take a statin drug to basically not die of a heart attack like other members of my family have done. Some at the ripe old age of 45.

      Genetics does play a role in this.

      February 11, 2011 at 13:51 | Report abuse |
    • Todd

      Yeah Kevin, b/c you are such a medical expert, you certainly know more then the thousands of doctors and researchers that have spent careers figuring out whatis best to treat high col. You are such an idiot.

      February 11, 2011 at 16:19 | Report abuse |
  3. Elisa K.

    So proud of my cousin! I hope we are able to run a race together in the future.

    February 10, 2011 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Ninalove

    Hi Scott, LOOKING GOOD, fellow Six-Pack Buddy!!! I'm still pinching myself to make sure this is all real – what fun lies ahead! Best of luck in your training & I'll see you in April (but where???? is the question of the day–haha!) Nina

    February 10, 2011 at 21:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Melissa Zahn

    Way to go Scott! Brian and I are so excited for you. We can't wait to see you cross the finish line in New York!!!!!!

    February 10, 2011 at 21:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jim S

    Good luck on your journey Scott!

    February 10, 2011 at 22:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Steve, MD

    Exercise and proper diet are the keys to a healthy life. The benefits of regular aerobic exercise include improved cognitiion, less depression and anxiety, improved blood pressure, less constipation, reduced risk of stroke and heart disease and much more. We would solve our healthcare financial crisis if only we could convince our patients of this. We were meant to be hunter-gatherers, not to sit in front of a TV munching junk food.

    February 11, 2011 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. becca

    this is wonderful! i'm so glad he's taking responsibility for his weight and setting a good example for his patients! his entire body will benefit from toning up to a fit weight. hooray!!

    February 11, 2011 at 13:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Kas

    You are such a role model. I had a great time talking to you in Atlanta and I hope the coming months will be a transformation for all of us. Great job with the workouts and I'll be thinking of you the next 6 months.

    February 11, 2011 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Elizabeth

    LOOOOOVE IT!!!

    February 12, 2011 at 08:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Mike & Peg

    Keep it up, Bro. We're rooting for you, and hope this this the beginning of a long life filled with heathy choices.

    February 12, 2011 at 13:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Kendrick

    Hey Scott! You are such an inspiration!

    February 12, 2011 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Randy S

    Scott,

    Keep up the great work! Can't wait to see you out and about training. Perhaps I could tag along sometime.

    February 23, 2011 at 12:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Jeff Z

    Keep up the good work big bro! You're finding new ways to inspire and be a role model for your younger bros. Looking forward to cheering you on and watching you conquer the NY Triathalon!!

    February 26, 2011 at 08:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Dad

    Keep up the good work, maybe you'll have to show me one of these days some of your exercises so I get similar results.

    February 26, 2011 at 09:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Sheila

    Good luck Scott! Make Green Bay proud! You are looking great already.

    February 27, 2011 at 15:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Tim H.

    Good luck buddy! I am elated that you are taking this journey and proud of your progress thus far. Keep up the good work and do not hesitate to call on me if you need anything – including someone to kick you in the butt!

    March 3, 2011 at 19:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Tom and Jessica

    Way to go Scott!

    March 9, 2011 at 22:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Mom

    You have always set high goals for yourself...and have always achieved them. This is a hard goal to make but I know you will do it. I support all your efforts. Extremely proud as always.

    March 16, 2011 at 00:00 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.