SUCCESS STORY: A central Iowa couple takes the road to healthier lives together

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

When you see Shirley and Craig Phinney working out at the gym today, you’d never guess they used to be couch potatoes.  A few years ago, Craig was weighing in at more than 300 pounds.  Shirley hated what she saw in the mirror and she’s the one who decided they needed to make a change.

“I got fed up,” she says with a shrug.  “I told him, ‘here’s your ultimatum:  you can do a fitness program or a personal trainer’ – that was it.  There wasn’t a third choice and I wasn’t going to give him one because this was our life!”

Shirley wasn’t the only one trying to give Craig a wakeup call, so was his doctor.  He remembers the conversation well.  “He said, ‘Craig, you’re killing yourself and you’ve gotta do something.’  It was the second time he told me I was near death.”

The first time was February of 2009.  Craig was diagnosed with colon cancer.  He eventually received a clean bill of health and returned to his job as an Ankeny police officer.  He and Shirley also started “Cops Against Cancer”.

“With our organization we’re helping families where insurance doesn’t,” Craig explains, “we’re helping them with things like lodging and gas and meals.  We approach those families and say – we can help, let us help.”

Shirley and Craig knew they needed help getting fit so they started training with Daniel Wright and Rebecca Meyer of “Biggest Loser” fame and life started to change.  Craig can’t keep the smile of his face when he talks about it.  “I was 53-years-old, a non-athlete and I was able to do stuff I’ve never been able to do before in my life!”

Even a serious knee injury didn’t derail the workouts.  Craig and Shirley kept at it, dropped a ton of weight together, and want others to know they can do the same thing. “No matter the obstacle or what you’re going through, there’s a way, you just have to make it in your mind that you’re going to do it.”

You can help the “Cops Against Cancer” help other families by participating in a fitness challenge on March 3rd.  For details: