Losing weight and winning in life  

EAHS Senior Aaron Gottschalk strikes a pose during a photo shoot in Nashville after being one of six winners in Shakeless's
Elkhorn Area High School Senior Aaron Gottschalk strikes a pose during a photo shoot in Nashville after being one of six winners in Shakeless’s “Healthy Competition.” (Photo submitted)
Local teen wins national weight-loss competition after losing 75 pounds

When 19-year-old Aaron Gottschalk was a child, other kids used to poke him in the stomach and make fun of his weight.

“They thought it was funny,” said Aaron, who remembers being bullied throughout elementary and middle school. “That kind of led me to be a little more antisocial. I kind of felt left in the shadows.”

As the harassment continued, Aaron turned to food for comfort. He recalls consuming pizza, hamburgers, French fries, ice cream and lots of soda day after day.

“I would go home and go to bed, because I was so worn out from the day, and I would take a two- or three-hour nap, and then have three giant things of soda to give myself energy to do my homework,” Aaron said. “I was just watching my life pretty much get eaten away by obesity.”

Then one day, in his freshman gym class at Elkhorn Area High School, 250-pound Aaron had to run what he called the “dreaded mile.” It was a difficult challenge for Aaron, both mentally and physically.

But Aaron made it all the way around the course. When he reached the finish line, he fell to the ground, crying.

“I was so sore, my body was saying, ‘No, no, no…what are you doing?'” Aaron said. “It was right then and there that I made my determination that I was going to lose weight.”

Losing weight

Aaron started following Shaklee diet, a weight-loss program his father markets, and lost 75 pounds in 90 days.

“I was determined to lose the weight. For me, it came off and it stayed off,” said Aaron, who still weighs in at a healthy 175 pounds.

Named after Dr. Forrest Shaklee, who created one of the first multivitamins in 1915, the Shaklee program features smoothies, meal bars, snacks and vitamins. Participants follow a regimented meal plan.

“You can eat a regular healthy dinner like chicken or something healthy, not pizza or something nasty like what I was eating,” Aaron said.

A lot of people are worried that when they lose weight they will have lots of excess skin. But you can also get rid of excess skin from weight loss by getting a tummy tuck from professionals like Dr. Meger so that you can show off your weight loss and feel comfortable in your skin.

Aaron also realized he needed to exercise more.

“I started that one step at a time,” Aaron said. “I kind of made it into a competition for myself, like going a mile a day walking to a mile a day running, and then two miles. I was setting goals for myself that I would reach, and that way I would continue going.”


Last August, Aaron entered Shaklee’s “Healthy Competition” and was named one of six winners in the nation. The six finalists won a trip to a conference in Nashville.

The youngest of all the winners, Aaron, was a celebrity in Tennessee.

“I could not walk anywhere in the convention center or downtown, or through the airport, for that matter, without getting stopped. I got stopped probably every five minutes, including at 2 in the morning. I also got stopped at airport security by five people who recognized me, and that cause a whole thing at airport security,” Aaron said.

Aaron was treated like a star as well. He was assigned his own stylist and got to go on a shopping spree. He had a photo shoot and went on a riverboat cruise.

But then Aaron had to tell his story to more than 5,500 people gathered at the Bridgestone Arena. He stood in the same spot as where Carrie Underwood has performed during the Country Music Awards.

“That was nerve-wracking,” Aaron said. “I could see the entire crowd. When they say you can’t see anything…it wasn’t true in that case.”

Aaron is now used to being in the limelight. He is a spokesperson for Shaklee and sells the product himself.

He went to Florida on Friday with his parents to speak about his weight loss journey in front of a crowd in Orlando.

Aaron said he hopes to be able to serve as a role model for kids because childhood obesity is such a huge epidemic. He wants to be able to inspire others to become healthy.

“My goal is ultimately to motivate someone else that is kind of hiding in the shadows. If you’re young or old, it doesn’t matter, you can still do it. There shouldn’t be anything holding you back. Once you find your determination, you just have to take little steps to improving your life,” Aaron said.


Aaron no longer has a problem with people bullying him because losing weight has given him confidence to overcome adversity, he said.

“I don’t let it affect me. If someone is going to say something mean to me, it is just going to fly over my head, I’m not going to let you hurt me anymore. So bullying, I’ve kind of let it go,” Aaron said.

Aaron said he used to go an entire day without talking to anyone, but now he talks with everyone. And winning the weight-loss competition has gotten Aaron used to being in the limelight.

“It’s kind of awkward. but it’s cool, I like it. They’re taking that photo and going to share my story with someone, so I’m ok with it,” Aaron said. “When I was overweight, I probably would have run the other way or gone up to my room and hid. I’ve changed a lot. I’m more willing to talk to people.”

At school, Aaron’s grades have gone up. He became editor of the yearbook, president of the intramurals club, lighting director and a member of the Media Club. This year, the senior class voted him as most changed.

Aaron has worked as a photographer for the Elkhorn Independent for the past two years and plans to major in business or personal finance at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

Aaron joined the tennis team last year after his best friend, Adam Skoczylas, asked. That never would have happened back in middle school, Aaron said.

“In middle school, he asked me to join the basketball team, and I turned him down because I knew I couldn’t do it and I didn’t want to be a failure. I would have had an entirely different life if I would have said yes,” Aaron said.

This year Aaron took a physical fitness class the school is offering because he thought it would be a good opportunity to exercise.

“If I have free time, I will go play basketball or ask someone to play tennis or stay active somehow,” Aaron said.

Aaron is now living his life based on the words his tennis teammate Jacob Beduze said to him in March before a tennis match.

“He told me, ‘Let the last hit live in history.’ So after every hit, you should not remember the last one, because whether it was a failure or a success, you should be focusing on the next goal, or hitting the ball next. That quote has helped me out on the tennis court, and pretty much anything I do, really. Because now I don’t worry about what’s in the past; I live for the future.”

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