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Ben, a 44-year-old fundraising and software consultant and father of two was living the kind of life most of live: one where we sit most of the day and don’t get moving too much. At 280 lbs, Ben had been classified as “morbidly obese,” and knew he needed to make a change.

“My wife was pregnant with our second daughter in 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. That, combined with the fact that I was feeling uncomfortable in all my clothes and embarrassed about how big I had gotten promoted things.”

So Ben decided to make a stand and found success through a program called Nerd Fitness where he learned to eat and exercise for a healthier body.

“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.”

“But really, success breeds success.”

“Once I started seeing results from doing what I was doing, it became easy to ramp it up further. I actually lost weight more rapidly in months 3 through 7 (12.6 pounds per month) than in months 1 and 2 (9 pounds per month), as the momentum helped me make more changes.”

So how did he do it? He first started with food.

“Basically, I now view all food as fuel for my workouts and daily life,” tells Ben. “And I want to perform as well as I can, so I try to use the best fuel that I can.”

Here are some of Ben’s go-to foods.

Pre-Run Snack: a grapefruit, some strawberries, or a homemade protein bar made with blueberries, flax seed, rolled oats, steel cut oats, safflower oil, raw honey, and whey protein.

Breakfast: Usually one of two options: Greek yogurt, granola, and berries, or steel-cut oatmeal with cinnamon, apples, and blueberries. Boiled egg(s)
Lunch and Dinner: Usually 6-10 oz. of lean meat (flank steak, grilled chicken breast, grilled salmon or tuna, smoked turkey) with one or two sides such as broccoli, grilled mixed veggies, short-grain brown rice, quinoa, black beans, homemade guacamole, sweet potatoes, baby spinach salad topped with olive oil and vinegar.

Then, instead of going overboard with exercise, Ben modified his behaviors to fit in exercise more often.

“Early morning gaming/internet time has changed to exercise time, usually running,” admits Ben. “I hit the gym at lunchtime 3-4 days a week, and even spend a lot more time planning my meals out than I used to.”

“Early on, I didn’t really look at the quality of food I was eating or macronutrient content. It was purely ‘you have a budget of ~2100 calories per day to lose 2 pounds per week. Eat ~2100 calories per day.’ I mean,…

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… I pretty frequently ate pulled pork or ribs with sugar-sweetened BBQ sauce in January and February of this year. As I started to read Nerd Fitness and other sites and gain some experience, I came to realize that healthier foods (especially leaner proteins) would help me feel more full because I could eat more of them, and they’d also help increase the rate of fat loss.

“What I didn’t realize until it started happening for me was how much eating healthier would help with fitness performance. Once I saw my lifting numbers increase and my running times decrease rapidly with better nutrition, I was hooked.”

Overall, Ben learned a great deal and was generous to share so he can help others:

  • Prepare as much of my food as is possible at home.
  • Fat isn’t to be feared, especially when it comes from healthy sources such as nuts, eggs, seeds, and avocados.
  • Carbs should be viewed as sources of fiber and fuel for workouts.
  • Look to minimize sodium, saturated fats, and added sugars.

Lean protein is the awesome in every way!

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