The Transformation Spotlight (formerly the "Transformation Spotlight of the Month") makes its return with an outstanding life-changing transformation by forum member "baldridges" (Stephen). Stephen's fitness journey began a little differently than most do: overweight, out of shape and unhealthy, he didn't go on a "diet"--he simply decided to start training for a 1/2 marathon. Stephen's diet evolved naturally to further his endurance training. Today Stephen is almost 60 pounds lighter, he's dropped almost 10 inches from his waistline and is in the best shape of his life.
BEFORE STATS (January 2010):
Weight: 233 pounds
Body Fat: 31%
[b]Weight: 174 pounds
Body Fat: 13.28%
Why did you decide to make a transformation?
Since college I have really struggled with my weight and overall health. I have made decisions to change in the past, even losing a lot of weight, but they never really stuck. A few years ago I decided to run a 1/2 marathon. I trained, lost weight, and ended up doing it. That, combined with the sudden loss of a close family member due to heart disease was a real turning point for me.
About a year ago I found that I have a passion for endurance sports. That has really given me the drive I need and helped me set clear goals as far as training and health goes.
What sort of planning did you do before you started?
I started with only exercise, no shift in diet. Of course my changes were minimal. I still ate a lot of processed junk, salt, bread, sugar, etc.
When I decided to dedicate my training to endurance sports, I did a lot of reading and research surrounding training and nutrition specifically for performance. I found a lot of things pointing to the benefit of a plant-based diet for endurance. I started reading and watching everything I could about it. I read things from Brendan Brazier, Rich Roll, Scott Jurek, Michael Pollan, etc. That is what really lead to the "radical" change in my lifestyle.
What were your initial goals?
My initial goal was to run a 1/2 marathon, and in doing that, to get my weight down to about 200 lbs. After accomplishing that, I kept setting 10 lb goals until I got down to where I needed to be.
What was your diet and supplement intake like?
I focused mainly on fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, and seeds. I ate a lot of "blended salads" (toss a bunch of green leafies with some fruit in a blender), tons of black and pinto beans, lots of nuts and nut butters, lentils, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and fruits. I tried to eat at least one meal of raw foods a day. I still allowed myself to have fish (usually salmon or cod) a few times a month.
Supplement wise, I used hemp fiber in my blended salads or after workouts several times a week.
To be honest, I am really lucky to be married to an incredible cook. Going through this process with her has made my journey significantly easier.
What was your training like?
I found the most success using CrossFit Endurance. This usually consisted of 4-5 strength-based workouts a week and 6 endurance based workouts per week (swimming, running, biking). The endurance-based workouts alternate between interval and long workouts.
What obstacles did you encounter, and how did you overcome them?
Not growing up doing anything really athletic, or focusing on exercise at all, I had no clue what I was doing a lot of the time. I would become frustrated when I would injure myself (even minor injuries), or want to give up when I would hit a wall. What I found helpful was finding communities like this one, or finding other people with similar goals and relying on their expertise to fill in the gaps that I didn't know. I am not the most patient person in the world, which made it difficult during the ruts or plateaus.
How has your life changed?
The obvious ways are just the way I look and feel. I am in the best shape of my life (but still have lots of room for improvement).
Some of the unexpected ways it has changed has been the reactions of other people. When I first started this I got a lot of opinions or negative reactions for the changes I was making to my diet. But, the more I lost, the more people became interested.
My wife has also made an incredible change (we have lost a combined 120 lbs). People are starting to contact us to ask what we have done, to ask for advice, or in some cases for meal plans or training tips. This has allowed us to share what we feel passionately about with others.
How did John Stone Fitness and/or the JSF Forums help you?
I have followed John almost since the beginning of the site back in 2003. The fact that there are people out there to help you whenever you have any issues is invaluable. Whenever I have a question about what I am doing, all I have to do is search the forums and I get 20 answers immediately. I have really appreciated the ability to connect with other people that have similar issues . . . and that won't look at me like I am out of my mind when I am drinking a salad for breakfast.
What advice would you offer to others?
Find a good support group. I can't place a value on what it meant to go through this change with my wife. Find people that are going through the same things and rely on them for support.
Also, don't limit yourself when making goals. I have started to do things that I never thought I would be able to do (or never wanted to do in the past). Making big goals has helped my push myself further than I thought I could go.
What are your future plans?
I hope to continue training and taking part in endurance based sports. I just signed up for my first full marathon which will be in December.
My long-term goals are to complete my first 1/2 Ironman in September 2013 (OK City) and then a full Ironman in June 2014 (Cours d'Alene, ID).
Any closing thoughts?
As with anything that is not mainstream, I receive a lot of criticism and strange looks. But personally the most important thing was that I found what worked for me, and more importantly, something that is sustainable. I feel like I am setting the example I need to set for my kids (my 6 year old son is running his first triathlon next month), and that I have given myself an excellent shot at being around for my family for a long time. I love what this transformation has done for my life.
Good luck in your first full marathon and the many endurance races that will follow! Congratulations on your many outstanding changes, Stephen, and thanks for a great interview!
: I’m always looking for Transformation Spotlight nominations. If you, or someone you know, has made a successful transformation, please contact me
and let me know about it!