One year ago, 12-year-old Mason Carter Harvey weighed 206 pounds and rarely left the couch. Now, after losing a staggering 85 pounds and changing his life, the Guthrie native is encouraging children and adults across the nation to “strive for 85.”

Oklahoma Magazine: What habits would you say characterized your lifestyle previous to your weight loss?
Mason Harvey: My habits before my weight loss were horrible! We ate a lot of convenient fast foods, and I always sat in front of the television and played a lot of Xbox. I usually would get two or three helpings of food when my mom cooked a meal. I fell behind when having to run for sports that I played. I had a hard time breathing, keeping up and being motivated to do anything.

OM: What was the turning point when you decided to make a change?
MH: My sixth-grade year of school was when I decided to make a change. I knew that junior high was coming quick, and I did not want to be heavy and have the problems I had since the third grade following me to the teenage years. I finally told my parents that I was sick and tired of being sick and tired! I knew this change would be hard in the beginning, but I was prepared to achieve this goal.

OM: What do you feel were the most important steps you took along your journey?
MH: The steps I took were getting off the couch and finding active things to do, such as ride my bike, jump on our trampoline, take a strength-training course at the gym and get involved more in sports. I also cut back on junk food and pop. I started to make some healthier choices and drink lots of water and Gatorade. I also watched my portion sizes. I found that the better I ate, the better I felt and the more energy I had, which in turn made me want to move more. I gained more self-esteem and stayed motivated about being active.

OM: What advice do you have for others who are facing the same struggles with healthy living that you did?
MH: The advice I would give for others is to take small steps and make smart choices and big changes will happen. Find playful activities that you enjoy that make you feel like you’re not exercising. Set small goals for yourself and achieve them, then move to bigger goals. If I can do this, you can do this!

OM: How does your health and happiness compare between now and before your lifestyle changes?
MH: Before I lost weight, I was sick often and couldn’t breathe well. I had no energy. I was tired of being made fun of and picked on because of my size. But now I feel great! I am more outgoing. I can run faster and love sports more because I don’t have a problem keeping up anymore.

OM: In what ways are you working to share your story and inspire others?
MH: I am attending or hosting active events to get people moving and telling my story. I have done several television spots, 5k runs and speaking events. I also use social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, lots of word of mouth and my website,

OM: What has been the absolute best part of this entire experience for you?
MH: The best part has been getting to meet famous or important people who have helped me spread my story, such as First Lady Michelle Obama, Mayor Mick Cornett, Gov. Mary Fallin and many others. I have also met lots of people from different parts of the country whom I’ve inspired (so they tell me) through Twitter and Facebook. I’m getting to do some really cool events, too!

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