Ben Davis transformed his health, body and lifestyle by running and racing. He lost 115 pounds to date, completed seven marathons, two Ironman challenges and documented it all at BenDoesLife.com.
Maintaining weight loss is much tougher than losing the weight in the first place, he says. But racing keeps him motivated, entertained, committed and engaged.
You have to find a way to keep some excitement going. For me, I do this through the racing. I sign up for races and work toward them. I find that if I have idle time, I let myself slack. But if I have, say, an Ironman in six months, I know I have to keep at it. So, I like to have three or four big races every year to keep the fitness up.
Davis launched the Do Life Movement (find it online at dolifemovement.com) and inspired the inaugural readers issue of Runners World. He moved to Vancouver in August.
This is what Ben Davis had to say:
On obesity rates in North America and the reasons for his weight gain
For me it's as simple as what we, as a world, are placing importance and priority on. Just look at what is dominating most major life headlines these days: technology. It's all computers, phones, websites, video games, television all the time. And when we consume these products, we are sitting in front of them for an enormous part of the day. And a lot of times we are sitting in front of them with a snack in hand.
At first, maybe 15 years ago, I would have said people are choosing to do this over being outside; you know that they are simply choosing. But these days? These days that's all kids know. They grew up in a world of iPods and online gaming. It's literally all they know. The onus now lies on education and showing the world that being active isn't taboo. That being outside and playing sports and not eating entire boxes of cereal is actually a good thing.
On first steps and surprises
The biggest surprise for me came in the first few months. You hear all the time that starting is the hardest partthat the first few weeks are going to be tough because all your addictions are going to be agonizing to give up. But for me the first few months were the easiest. Inspiration is a drug just like addiction. It's definitely hard to get that spark, but when it hits right, everything is a lot easier than expected. My struggles came after five or six months when the newness had worn off. By that time, though, I had lost 85 pounds or so. It's been three years now and it is a struggle sometimes, but it's a lot better than going back to where I was.
On getting people moving
The biggest piece of advice I have comes from a brilliant lady named Penny Gillan old family friend and dean of students at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts. I was talking to her about plateaus and struggling and not knowing exactly where I wanted to end up. She told me she talks daily with students who don't have direction and this is the advice she gives them:
You don't go from A to Z in one step. You go from A to B. Then on to C. After C you go to D. You end up at Z as a result of going to what's next. If we try to do everything in one step, we're going to fail. We usually don't have what it takes to get to Z but we do have enough to get to B.
And it fits perfectly to weight loss. We're not trying to lose 150 pounds at once. We have to break it up into chunks. Lose five pounds. Then lose five more. You'll get to where you want to be, but you'll do it in a realistic and manageable way. And you'll still be sane when you're done.
On filming his first jog
One of the first things I did when I decided to get my life back on track was call my brother Jed to see if he wanted to team up with me. He was about 80 pounds overweight and I knew going in I would need a partner. Luckily, he was just as excited as I was. I don't recall exactly why we took the video camera, but I'm sure it was so I could keep the blog going in several different directions. When I read a blog I get a little weary if it's all text all the time. I like to have fun with pictures and videos.
On watching the film of his first jog
I see a different person. I was huge! But the funny thing is that I remember watching the video as I was editing it that night back in January of 2009 and thinking, "Hey, I'm starting too look slim." It's all a matter of perspective. I was down about 15 pounds at the time and feeling pretty svelte. Lots of people comment on that videoall saying kind of the same thing: they can't believe it's the same person.
On seeing obese people exercise
I was always jealous to see obese people exercising. Like they had figured something out that I hadn't. You see, when you're morbidly obese, part of the reason it's hard to get started is because it seems like such a daunting task. You have, literally, hundreds of pounds to lose and it's not going to happen quickly so it just doesn't seem worth it. It's a huge psychological barrier you have to break through.
On never experiencing any prejudice for being an obese jogger
I didn't. And this is another psychological issue that I know for a fact deters many people from getting out there and being active. In our minds we're going to be ridiculed all over the place if we get out there and people see us working out. We think people are going to point and laugh like they do in movies. But I've found that it's all in our heads. We're psyching ourselves out before we even get out there. 99 per cent of the time, people are genuinely supportive and excited for youespecially people that are close to us. Think about it: when was the last time you yelled out disparaging remarks to an overweight runner? Probably never. No, more often than not, we think, "good for them" and keep driving.
On running and meeting his Vancouver girlfriend
Us meeting was actually very lucky. Her best friend had emailed her a link to my video in late 2010, and Brooke started following my blog. In December of 2010, I announced that I would be in Chicago for two days speaking and doing an impromptu run with anyone that might be interested. She was actually going to be in Chicago the few days I was there but wasn't going to be able to attend the run, so she sent me an email asking if I had any other runs planned. I wasn't able to schedule any others so I let her know that it wasn't going to be possible, so she responded a simple, "Have fun and good luck running" email. Fast forward a month, blizzards sweep into Chicago and flights get cancelled, the run gets rescheduled and everything works out for her to make the 5K. After the run, she and I get coffee, we talk, and we haven't stopped since then.
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