Check out Russ with TV-13's George Roberts
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March 22, 2012 - Russell Bear, 39, started the Elevations weight loss program as part of a corporate fitness challenge at Great Wolf Lodge in November 2011. His starting weight was 297 pounds. After eight weeks, he was down to 250 pounds. After 16 weeks, he was down 34 more pounds to 216. His life has changed, and his journey is continuing.
On the left, there's Russ "before", at nearly 300 pounds. On the right, we'll call it his first "during", at 250 pounds after 8 weeks on the Elevations weight loss program. Below that, there's Russ in early 2012, down another 22 pounds. Thank you, Russ, for sharing your story!
After his first 8 weeks on our program, we asked Russ to respond to a few questions...but if you want to, just scroll down to the last question and you'll see what's most important and why Russ is such an insipration.
Tell us how you have achieved your weight loss success.
The short answer is diet and exercise.
Rigorous exercise is definitely a key for me. I had one other 50lb weight loss in my lifetime. I simply stopped eating bread and pasta but it took 6 months, not 2, and I was 32, not 39. I cannot stress how much the exercise has helped me this time – I’m doing cardio regularly for the first time since I stopped playing sports competitively, and it has helped me not only lose weight, but feel stronger, more confident, and much better in general. Getting winded from climbing a flight of stairs…well, it sucks.
The other half of success is diet. I’ve become addicted to understanding what I'm eating and logging everything. I won't eat anything anymore until I know what's in it, and logging continuously also helps me remain aware of how close I am to where I want to be – some days I get excited because I get to eat dessert (Breyer’s low carb vanilla ice cream rules). The key is knowing how much room I’ve got to work with. I feel like the diet part of this is what will help me keep the weight off – I’ll never stop logging….ever.
You no longer wear a knee brace. Why?
I was so out of shape that I began using my bum knee as an excuse for why I couldn’t do any physical exercise. While it is true that I have no cartilage in my right knee, it was never really a huge problem. I used to only wear the brace for hardcore sports like soccer. As I got older, and heavier, however, I found it easier to blame my knee for not being able to participate in physical activity – because I began to believe it was getting worse as I got older – I also thought there wasn’t much I could do about it. I figured I’d be wearing the brace full time soon – even at work. I even began to believe my left knee pain was due to overcompensating for the right one…boy was I wrong.
The brace came off in a cycle class because it was bothering me at the top of the crank – digging in to my hamstring and calf. I was terrified to do it, but it was really bothersome, so I did it anyway. I was about 25lbs down by then, and although I thought for sure the pain would increase exponentially without it, I had to try. It felt soooo much better I almost didn’t believe it. Losing weight takes pressure off my knees (both of them) – so much so that I don’t think I’ll need the brace again.
How many days a week do you workout? 4 or 5 at the gym, 1 or 2 at home on my Wii.
How long are the workouts? 45 – 60 minutes; 90 – 120 when I take a class.
What classes do you take? Cycle class is the one I’m in regularly. Bootcamp is brutal but fun – I will become a regular there as well.
How is losing the weight, and continuing to lose, impacting your life and family?
Man, this one’s the heavy. I can't describe how lucky a guy I am.
My children are wondrously fantastic – they lift my spirits with the sound of their voices. They are both smart and polite and well behaved – I love them so much it hurts…literally. My wife is my everything – she is the toughest person I know by a mile and a half, and quite possibly the best mother on the planet. Beautiful, driven, compassionate, intelligent, and generous are a few words I might use to describe her. While I believe in myself enough to know I could be ok without her – I don’t ever want to have to try that.
So now you know how I feel about my family. Here’s how my journey fits in –
Now that I’m losing weight and getting healthy, I know I’m giving myself the best chance I can to be around for a long long time. Before I started all this, I was trying to deal with the fact that I was extremely overweight through justification and excuses. While I would have told you or anyone it wasn’t true, the fact was I was probably prediabetic (my dad deals with diabetes every day, and it killed both of his parents). My mom had half of one of her lungs removed (lung cancer) because she smoked cigarettes for 50+ years – I still smoke, and I’m at about 21 years now – but I will quit – and sooner rather than later, but I want to get in shape first. One thing at a time, right? On top of these hereditary issues, I was burying myself in my own fat – I bet I was heading for a heart attack as well. I was definitely on the early check out list. I wouldn’t have believed it if you told me, but it was true.
Now I have everything going in the right direction – I’m losing weight, I will quit smoking, I will be in great shape – forever. I have so many new doors open it's hard to wrap my head around it. I played tag with my kids a couple weeks back – outside, running, for the first time ever – EVER. I can now set a good example for them – I no longer have to say or think “don’t be like me.” I can say “be like me” to them. My health is improved so much already, and I’m only halfway there – its exciting. I can be the husband my wife deserves and the father my kids need now. I will be there for my kids milestones – graduations, marriages, becoming a grandfather…….wow. Not only will I get to spend the rest of my life with my wife – I’ll probably get to spend the rest of hers with her too. Before I signed up for this challenge, I would tell people I was old – or at least getting old. Now age is really just a number. I cant wait for the rest of my life! It's awesome!