McHorney aims to turn tide on obesity

October 25, 2012

Mark McHorney carries a picture of an overweight business man in his wallet.

Wisconsin State League

Mark McHorney carries a picture of an overweight business man in his wallet.

The picture isn’t of himself, but it reminds McHorney, a 60-year-old Eau Claire resident, of the extra weight he once carried.

It reminds him to steer clear of M&Ms and pizza. And it reminds him of the major heart attack he suffered and of those moments when he nearly died before doctors resuscitated him.

Best known around town as the manager of the Eau Claire Cavaliers baseball team, McHorney used to weigh about 260 pounds. After McHorney suffered the heart attack, doctors revived him, and he realized he had to alter his lifestyle or face an early death.

Obesity, McHorney said, was at the heart of his health problems. He lost about 30 pounds after his heart attack, but when chest pains returned in the years after that attack, McHorney got serious about changing his lifestyle.

“I just got fed up. I didn’t want to continue living that way,” he said.

Recent reports say America has yet to come to grips in its battle with obesity. A report released last week predicts more than half of the population in 39 states will be obese by 2030.

Local public health officials are organizing efforts to turn the tide against obesity. For instance, the Eau Claire Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department is starting a program Monday urging people to get walking on city trails.

“The idea was to get people introduced to the trails that didn’t know about them,” program coordinator Jenny Vick said. “Our hope is people will start to (walk the trails) on their own with someone they meet in the program.”

The Eau Claire school district is attempting to boost physical activity too. District officials have overhauled the physical education curriculum to better address fitness needs.

Gym class is now about more than dodgeball, said Ann Franke, director of secondary education. Gym teachers have recognized the growing number of obese students and are now incorporating lessons about life-long fitness skills into their curriculum.

And for folks who already find themselves behind the eight-ball, there are local programs such as the Mayo Health Systems’ weight management service, the one McHorney signed up for when he wanted to get fit.

After a year of regular weigh-ins and support meetings, exercising and changing his eating habits, McHorney lost nearly 75 pounds. These days he weighs about 180 pounds, he said.

When he struggled to work out, McHorney thought about his father, who died of a heart attack at 60.

McHorney said it took him too long to get serious about taking care of himself and he urges others make changes earlier in life.

“Do it before you have to, before it’s too late,” McHorney said.

Story by: Jon Swedien, Eau Claire Ledger-Telegram Staff
Swedien can be reached at 715-833-9214, 800-236-7077 or

The Wisconsin State League is one of the premier semi-professional/amateur baseball leagues in the mid-west. In operation since 1970, the Wisconsin State League is a highly competitive league that features many of the midwest's top current and former collegiate athletes, as well as many former professional baseball players. Keep up to date on everything happening in the Wisconsin State League by following the league online on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. | #WSL