Johnson County supervisor gets back to his "foundation"

BY BRIAN ALBERT | JULY 29, 2011 7:20 AM

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Many local residents probably only know Terrence Neuzil as a Johnson County supervisor — a position he's held for more than 10 years.

But few know about another accomplishment of Neuzil's — that he turned his life around and lost 100 pounds.

"My life was out of balance, and that's something that can be hard to correct," he said. "I did it, and I lost the weight, but my hair didn't go back to brown."

The 41-year-old Democrat is a fifth-generation resident of Johnson County. He's a University of Iowa alum, and he earned a double major in political science and history.

Neuzil was first elected to his county Board of Supervisors in 2000, and he has been re-elected twice, in 2004 and 2008.

Before committing to his 60-hour-a-week government job, Neuzil worked for 19 years as a news anchor and business manager for KCJJ, a local radio station. He left the news business in 2006 to focus solely on his responsibilities as a supervisor – including managing a $75 million budget, 500 employees, and 11 county departments.

But he also left the radio for his health.

"When I was with the radio station in 2006, I started going down a tough path of working too much," he said. "I was busy 100 hours a week for all seven days. I gained a lot of weight. I turned gray. I was only sleeping for three hours a day, and I didn't make time to exercise."

Neuzil — who has a penchant for pies and smoked meats — said he had to find a way to concentrate on himself and to get back to a "foundation" of health, soul, and lifestyle.

"I hear too often about people who make bad health choices and don't live long, so I decided to refocus," the Iowa City native said. "I took the hours out of the radio station and put them into my health."

The board member got a membership to Core Fitness, slept more, and became conscious of what he was putting into his body.

Five years later, Neuzil is 100 pounds lighter.

"I started to eat better, but I never stopped eating anything I wanted — I just ate less of it," he said. "I made biking, working out, and jogging my hobbies instead of working myself to death."

Paul Schaefer, a friend of Neuzil's for 21 years, said the supervisor showed tremendous strength and dedication not only to lose the weight but to keep it off.

"He worked hard for so many years," Schaefer said. "He transformed his body, but all of his qualities – his honesty, work ethic, integrity – those remained the same. Absolutely exceptional."

Neuzil said he has a simple philosophy regarding fitness: There's no reason a person shouldn't be able to find 45 minutes in the day to just find a way to sweat and do it six times a week.

And though he's now physically better off, he said the lifestyle change also reinvigorated his mentality and his personality — something 10-year-friend Lonny Pulkrabek, the Johnson County sheriff, said he can attest to.

"He's always friendly and smiling," Pulkrabek said. "He is just a genuinely friendly person and likes to be around people. It's rare to see him ever have a bad day."

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