In high school and college, Bill Garner, 45, played soccer and racquetball religiously. Once he got married, though, his activity dropped off completely. What’s more, he worked for the prison system where he feasted on the free high-carb meals multiple times a day. (Search: How do carbs make you gain weight?) After years of neglecting both his fitness and his eating habits, Bill ballooned to 350 pounds.
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The Turning Point
Bill first realized he needed to make changes when he had a pleurisy attack—a condition that involves chest pains and mimics cardiac arrest. “There are only so many times you can look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are the athlete from high school and college and use that as an excuse when you are that big,” he says. From then on, he was determined to achieve weight loss success.
Hitting the gym and taking up cycling helped Bill shed 100 pounds. Unfortunately, this initial victory was short-lived. Soon after losing the weight, he stopped working out and went back to his old eating habits. He quickly packed on all the extra baggage he’d ditched.
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A couple of years later, Bill tried again. After giving up the gym, he had also scaled back his cycling, only venturing out for rides occasionally. Motivated by wanting to be able to keep up with his biking buddies, he went back to the gym and took a long, hard look at the foods he was eating. He began reading websites to learn how to make healthy food swaps. After realizing the 20-ounce sodas he was so fond of were counteracting the calories he burned at the gym, he weaned himself off Coke. Additionally, Bill began working with a personal trainer and ramped up his cycling routine. Over three years Bill burned off 132 pounds. Today, he typically exercises at the gym three to four times a week and goes for long bike rides on the weekends—sometimes logging as many as 75 miles. “I love being outdoors, and I love the challenge,” he says. “The other day I rode 35 miles after work and saw a dozen deer. You don’t get that sitting in your house eating potato chips.”
With a family history of diabetes and heart attacks, Bill continues to fight to preserve his health. His cycling progress also pushes him. “Everyone told me I could get faster if I lost weight,” he explains. When he first started he could barely do 16 miles per hour. These days he pedals between 22 and 25 miles per hour.
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“My weight loss has allowed me to do so much more with my children,” he says. Plus, shopping’s a lot easier. After slimming down from a 3XL to a large or extra-large, Bill can buy clothes at any department store. “It’s a great feeling to know you have choice of stores and clothes.”
Don’t try changing everything overnight. “If you try to cut out everything you love it’s going to backfire.” Instead Bill suggests starting by learning how to read food labels and making food swaps.
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Image: Courtesy of Bill Garner