Welcome to the How They Did It series, where we spotlight one individual and their body transformation. Learn what they did, and how they did it to succeed at their weight loss journey. Today we are featuring Andrew Rose.
Tell Us a Little About Yourself
I am a father of three children and have been married for 19 years to the same woman. I am employed as a Project Management Professional for a major telecommunication/networking manufacturer. I am a fully converted runner and an avid fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through their TEAM in Training Program. I have completed 7 half marathons and 2 full marathons in less than 12 months as a runner and am really just getting started now. I also produce independent films and organize and host small independent film festivals in my spare time with my friends.
Fitness had never really been a part of my life, and when I was younger I was scrawny, but as I aged I put on weight and found myself sitting more and more and moving less and less while consuming more and more stuff that contributed to obesity. Then, one day during an annual physical examination, my doctor told me that my blood work showed that I was pre-diabetic and was concerned about my blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. He seriously recommended that I start a regimen of exercise and lose weight. But, of course, out came the prescription pad, and I was put on medications for diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
That was ten years ago. Year after year, four times per year, my doctor checked my hemoglobin glucose levels, my blood pressure, my liver enzymes, my weight, and my cholesterol and throughout the years I continued to gain weight and took stronger medications. I was pharmaceutically managing my health. I was always tired, and spent more time sitting than moving. I just didn’t see anything wrong with it. I was managing everything fine with my doctor and wasn’t experiencing any serious pharmaceutical related side effects. My wife loved me, my children loved me, and I could keep up with my career sitting at a desk on the phone and behind a computer, so there was no issue.
What Made You Decide to Get Fit and Healthy?
A simple challenge from my friend Abel Berry, who has since gone to become an ASM certified personal trainer. In December of 2010 we made plans to head north to Indianapolis the following March to attend Horrorhound Weekend, a horror entertainment convention, and as we did, Abel invited me to go to the gym with him. “Come work out with me 3 days a week and I pretty much guarantee that you’ll lose 50 pounds before Horrorhound,” he said. I mulled it over and thought it would be nice to not pack around the big bloated obese male gut any longer, and to have some level of physical fitness and endurance.
But wait, what changed? Why now? New Years Eve, 2010. I was in such bad physical shape with such poor cardiovascular endurance that I actually tired too quickly to make love to my wife. Think about that for a moment. Even that took more endurance than I could give, and I couldn’t keep up with my son at play, and he was only 3 years old.
So on January 7th I stepped into the gym with him, committed to lose 50 pounds and develop cardiovascular endurance.
What is Your Nutrition Philosophy?
From day one I knew that I would fail at dieting. I love food too much. In the beginning, I simply looked for the easy targets to rid from my diet that I felt would produce the quickest results. I was eating way too much junk food laden with fat and high fructose corn syrup. I quit eating before bed. I quit eating ice cream like I had stock in the dairy. I gave up fast food entirely. I didn’t even need to count calories. I simply approached my daily nutritional plan with common sense – eliminate fat and eliminate sugar. Eat less but eat more often. As I worked out at the gym, I never considered the burned calories as bonus calories to be consumed back with foods that had made me fat as a reward for the gym, and the pounds shed quickly. Within 6 months I had dropped 50 pounds and had made my first goal of 200 pounds.
Today, my nutrition philosophy remains largely unchanged. No diets. No gimmicks. No fads. I buy the same foods at the same grocery stores that I always have. I avoid high fructose corn syrup and corn syrup at all costs. I’ve completely given up many of my favorite foods if they are made with any form of corn syrup. I buy lean meat. I don’t cook in oil. I consume complex carbs and whole grains. I eat colored foods and avoid white sugars, white flours, white pasta, and white rice. I eat frequently throughout the day and ensure that each meal serves a nutritional purpose. Every now and then, I allow myself a treat, but when I do, I still avoid the things that I know contribute to obesity and make healthier choices. I look for desserts made with real sugar, and avoid the sugar replacements at all cost. I drink water, black coffee, unsweetened tea, and chocolate milk after I’ve run, and occasionally a non-carbonated low sugar energy drink. I don’t drink soda, and typically avoid drinking fruit juice.
I don’t count calories, but I do pay attention to nutritional balance. That balance shifts to support whatever training I’m currently engaged in. For example, I up my complex carbohydrate intake when I’m training for a marathon as my weekly mileage climbs.
What is Your Exercise Philosophy?
Exercise cannot seem like work, or I won’t do it. When I went to the gym with Abel, it was fun to spend time with my best friend, so it wasn’t work. When I run I’m happy, balanced, and have fun, so it’s not work. Now as a runner, I spend less time in the gym and more time doing bodyweight and flexibility routines to support the training as a runner. It’s important to find what is fun, and do it beyond the adjustment period that hurts. As is the case with my nutritional philosophy, I got from the 250 pound out of shape zero endurance man to a 165 pound marathoner without any gimmicks, name brands, or celebrity endorsed workout routines or products. Gym memberships can be expensive and cost prohibitive. The name brand workout products are expensive. You are your own gym. The road costs nothing. By using bodyweight workouts and running, fitness becomes pretty much free.
Currently, I run 6 days per week in the morning, making sure I mix up the distances and types of run on a day to day basis, and I do bodyweight and flexibility workouts 6 days per week in the evening making sure that I mix up the routines. I take one full rest day per week.
What Was the Most Important Thing You Learned During Your Transformation?
The support of friends is your number one tool in achieving your goals. Talk about those goals. Tell your friends your goal is to lose 50 pounds, to run a half marathon, or to do 100 consecutive push-ups. Then do it. Hold yourself accountable and compete with no one other than yourself in achieving those goals. I took a before photo from the front and the side before my first work out and then took progress photos along the way. I posted these on Facebook and was further motivated by the encouragement shown by friends as they “marveled” in the difference. You cannot do it alone and in private.
What Mistake(s) Should People Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight?
Don’t let the numbers on the scale be your only indicator of progress. Non-scale validations (NSV) are far more telling. Your clothes will get larger. Your photos will show the difference. Your friends will see the difference. You’ll be less tired. You’ll get sick less. Your mood will become happier. All of these things are far better indicators of success than the scale.
Don’t make any part of your fitness regimen an unsustainable part of your life. If you don’t enjoy the foods you’re eating or the exercise regimen you’re following, replace it with one that you do like and is sustainable. You won’t stick with it otherwise.
What Advice Do You Have For Others?
Educate yourself. The internet is a powerful tool. Learn what the sugar-free label really means. Learn the difference between complex carbs and simple carbs. Learn that while it’s true a calorie is a calorie is a calorie, the quality of calories consumed play a big part in your body composition, your energy level, and your overall health. Be careful to not take any one article you read as the gospel truth. There is a lot of debate within the nutrition and exercise sciences, and as such there are many, many, many fads. Before you run out and drop 100% of the carbohydrates you consume because an article suggests that’s the fastest way to lose weight, read other articles and seek out other knowledge and opinions. I didn’t jump on the “low-carb” bandwagon, yet lost 85 pounds. I chose complex carbs over simple carbs after learning the science behind our metabolic process. Just do your research and never assume any one person is 100% right.
And most of all, stick with it. You’re totally worth it.
Be sure to check out the past editions of How They Did It. If you or someone you know would like to be featured in the How They Did It body transformation series, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know you’re interested. More details will be provided. Don’t be shy. Your story will inspire others!