85 Pounds Lost: Ben Fuels His Workouts With Healthy Food
Name: Ben Lewis
Location: Hanahan, South Carolina
Before: 280 lbs.
After: 195 lbs. (and still dropping)
What was the “turning point” that prompted you to lose weight?
My wife was pregnant with our second daughter (born in April 2013). I realized that I’d be 62 years old when she’s a high school senior and at the rate my health was declining due to weight gain, I might not even make it that far. I needed to do this for my family.
When did you start trying to lose weight?
I started in November 2012. However, with holiday travel, my mother’s death December 10th, and me catching influenza right after that, I didn’t really get going until late December.
How did you get started?
I starting lifting weights 2-3 days per week. Cardio was difficult at my weight and lack of fitness. At first, I would do a slow jog for one minute and walk for 3 minutes, repeat 8 times for a 32-minute exercise. I also started tracking calories using the Lose It! app in January.
What was your biggest challenge?
I was in fairly good shape when I was younger, so my ego made it difficult to get back in the gym as a fat guy. Several of my early trips were during off-peak hours when I knew that few/no people would be there. I did get over that rather quickly, though. Also, just doing cardio work was very hard at first because I felt like I was able to do so little. Perseverance was extremely important at that stage.
Were there any times when you wanted to quit or give up? How did you stay motivated?
After a very short time, no. The first few days of doing cardio were really rough and humiliating, but I was very determined that I was going to become a fit person. My motivation was both my internal pride, and for the good of my wife and daughters. They needed to have a healthy husband and father.
If you reached a weight loss plateau, how did you break out of the rut?
I’ve only had one or two weeks since January where I’ve lost less than a pound.
What’s your current exercise routine?
That 1-minute-slow-jog/3-minute-walk cardio routine that I was doing back in December was able to evolve over time into 100 percent running. I’m currently training for my first half marathon, and in so doing, I run 5-6 times per week, typically 30-35 miles total. I also do strength training 3-4 days per week: two days upper body, 1-2 days lower body.
What’s your daily diet look like?
It has evolved over time to be extremely “clean.” Basically, I now view all food as fuel for my workouts and daily life, and I want to perform as well as I can, so I try to use the best fuel that I can. I go into great detail on this at my blog, Fat To Fit At 44, but typically it’s something like this:
- Pre-Run Snack (I leave for my run between 5:30 and 6 usually): homemade protein bar made with blueberries, flax seed, rolled oats, steel cut oats, safflower oil, raw honey, whey protein
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt, granola, and berries or steel-cut oatmeal, grapefruit, and boiled eggs
- Lunch and Dinner are pretty much interchangeable with similar calorie counts. Both are 6-10 oz. of lean meat (flank steak, grilled chicken breast, grilled salmon or tuna, smoked turkey) with one or two healthy sides such as broccoli, short-grain brown rice, quinoa, black beans, baby spinach salad topped with olive oil and vinegar
What’s your favorite healthy snack/meal?
Grilled chicken, black beans, and homemade guacamole. It’s very high in fiber and protein, very low in saturated fat, and absurdly high in yummy-ness!
Do you have specific suggestions for avoiding temptations?
Accountability is CRUCIAL! Having a blog is very helpful, because I realize that people are watching and aware of what I’m trying to do. Also, if you know that you’re very weak when it comes to certain situations, avoid them entirely rather than forcing yourself to “be strong.” If you just LOVE ice cream and are prone to downing a pint or more while watching TV late at night, either don’t keep any in your freezer, or don’t watch TV after everyone else has gone to bed. Finally, focusing on improving my running times and my strength training numbers really helps me stay the course when it comes to getting the proper nutrition to fuel my workouts.
What’s your life like after weight loss?
I have tons more energy to play with my daughters, get things done around the house and yard, and just generally enjoy life. My health is tons better; I actually have not been sick since that bout with influenza in December 2012 — not even a head cold. I firmly believe that eating an extremely healthy diet is a big reason for that. My blood pressure has dropped from 135/85 to 110/70.
If you have any suggestions to others what would they be?
I’ve got a full post in my blog dedicated to weight loss suggestions, and I use both Twitter and Facebook to send out little stuff frequently. You can also like follow Fat To Fit At 44 on Twitter.
That said, my brief suggestions would be as follows:
- Weight loss begins in the kitchen, not the gym or track. Healthy eating is crucial.
- Get moving! Even a little exercise is helpful.
- Set health/fitness goals, both long term and short term.
- Take advantage of the wealth of information and technology regarding health and fitness in today’s world.
Source: Everyday Health