Brian Schaeffer in a recent photo

Brian Schaeffer has a larger than life presence in the Texas campground business, having served as executive director and CEO of the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO) for nearly two decades.

With the help of his wife, Debra, Schaeffer has helped TACO grow to become one of the biggest campground trade associations in the country, while also shaping their privately held company, Texas Advertising, into a marketing powerhouse that produces everything from site maps to websites and online marketing campaigns, according to a news release.

But anyone who has seen Schaeffer over the years also knows that he has also fought an ongoing battle with his weight. And during a frank and passionate presentation to Texas park operators attending the opening session of TACO’s Spring Meeting on Sunday (April 28), Schaeffer recounted his own struggles with weight and his determination to live a healthier lifestyle, while encouraging others to do the same.

“We’ve got to be both physically and fiscally fit,” Schaeffer said, adding that he wants to live healthy and be around for a long time for his wife and family. He also wants to improve his appearance.

But no one knows more than Schaeffer how hard this can be, particular if you’re genetically programmed to gain weight easily.

Schaeffer said he has tried all of the diet plans — from Atkins to South Beach, none of which resulted in any lasting success.

Brian Schaeffer close to 400 lbs., before he started his diet in 2012.

Then late last year, after tipping the scales at 399 pounds, Schaeffer vowed to do something different.

He started by reading a book by Weight Watchers founder David Kirchhoff titled, “Weight Loss Boss: How To Finally Win At Losing — And Take Charge In An Out Of Control Food World.” The book encouraged him to take a “sensible approach” to weight reduction through increased exercise and better dietary control.

Schaeffer’s preferred method of exercise is daily walks. When he started, he could barely even make it down the driveway and back. But gradually he increased his stamina and his walking times increased from about 15 minutes to 45 minutes. He walks with Debra, and his general manager, Michael Moore, which gives him increased personal and business quality time with both of them that he didn’t have before. He tracks his mileage through an app called Run Keeper.

Schaeffer has also reduced his calorie intake, simply by paying more attention to what he eats and how many calories he’s consuming. He purchased another online app called My Fitness Pal that allows him to keep track of his calorie counts.

A photo from 2011 showing Brian Schaeffer with his tractor.

Schaeffer isn’t denying himself everything he used to enjoy. He still drinks a glass of wine now and then and he allows himself to have chocolate and other treats. But he uses much more moderation than he did in the past and he finds that walking every day and simply being sensible about his food consumption is a much more sustainable approach to weight control than anything he’s tried in the past.

The results so far have been impressive.

As of Sunday, Schaeffer said he had dropped to 279 pounds. He hopes to eventually get down to 249 pounds. He also hopes to inspire other overweight park operators and industry officials to come to terms with their weight and do something about it, not only for their own sake, but for their family’s wellbeing.

“The key is to determine your motivating factor to start a weight loss program and then be consistent with it,” Schaeffer said, adding, “The results will come.”

Schaeffer paired his weight loss presentation with a tax presentation by Don Brown, an Enrolled Agent who talked about various strategies park operators can use to ensure they do not pay more taxes than they should be paying.

TACO’s Spring Trade show runs through Tuesday. It is being held at Guadalupe River RV Resort and the Inn of the Hills Conference Center in Kerrville, Texas.