Getting thin is a lot harder than getting fat

Ten professionals and 10 teams are competing in the 2015 Get Fit Challenge. Who will earn the healthiest marks? Follow along on Facebook and then find out at the In Business Expo & Conference on Oct. 21. This week, IB checks in with Ben Cowan, president of Full Scale Promotions LLC, who is competing in the individual challenge.

Before we get into my new routine, let’s start with some background on how my journey to getting fat happened.

When I graduated high school, I was 6’1” and 185 pounds. Over the course of the next three years, I grew three more inches to get to 6’4” tall. With the height change and subsequent shift in my bone structure, I put on a quick 30 pounds and at the age of 22 was hovering around 220-225 pounds consistently.  Then the biggest weight mistake of my life happened.  I had just turned 24 and I thought it was a good idea to “bulk” up for an upcoming hockey tournament I was going to play in. I hired a trainer, six days a week, and started the process. Consuming close to 6,000 calories a day through protein shakes and eating “healthy” portions of anything I could get my hands on, I quickly put on 35 pounds of pure muscle.  Now at 260ish and just plain beefy, I played in the tournament, which was awesome since I got to go up against Craig Ludwig (former NHL player) and held my own. Well, not really, but it’s my memory so we’ll leave it at that.  However, with the tournament over I was on the road to being fat.

When you work out hard, gain muscle, and have a consistent way to burn off fat, it’s FANTASTIC. However, the second you stop working out and continue to eat the same way — well good luck with that. The muscle soon turned to fat and I kept on going with my great routine of eating huge meals. Remember what your parents said, about how you have to eat everything on your plate? Well, I listened, and I not only ate what was on my plate but usually a helping from someone else’s plate, too. 

Over the last eight years I accumulated an extra 85 pounds of unwanted weight. I tried different workout routines with friends — we did P90X for 90 days, during which I lost 30 pounds before putting it back on; we did some Cross Fit training and the same scenario happened again. I would lose weight but every time we stopped the program it came back on faster than I’d lost it. Part of the problem was I didn’t know how to eat.

 The fittest executive Get Fit Challenge sparked my interest, so I applied and luckily I was chosen. I started the competition at 303 pounds, which is crazy since I never thought I could actually let myself get to that magical 300 mark. I was wearing a size 44 pant and XXL shirts that were getting pretty tight; I tried my ass off to not look in the mirror. For some of you who knew me in the past, you’d think that’s the craziest part of this whole thing since I used to be a prima donna about my looks who had to have every single strand of hair perfect.




Now that the horror story is out of the way, let’s focus on what my new day-to-day routine looks like.

If you want to lose weight, eat right! Over the last three-and-a-half months, with the guided assistance of Fit Fresh Cuisine and Hybrid Fitness in Fitchburg, I have lost close to 50 pounds. During the first couple of weeks the dietary change was hard. I was extremely — and I mean extremely — hungry for most of my days, but I kept pushing myself to eat right. By right, I mean NO FAST FOOD!

If you are struggling with eating watch the documentary Fed Up. It was a life changer to say the least. Our country’s food is disgusting. I won’t go into detail but just STOP using the drive thru as your daily food source. Eat fresh food and stay as far as you can away from sugar, which is almost impossible since it’s in EVERYTHING.  Stay away from soda, too. It’s all bad for you.

The biggest thing I have learned from my friends in Fitchburg is portion control. Ryan Barndt, personal trainer and owner of Hybrid Fitness, and his wife, Sarah, an amazing chef and owner of Fit Fresh Cuisine, told me a little secret about scheduling what to eat and when to eat it. In addition, here’s a fun fact if you’re still reading — you can still drink by following these simple little tips:

  1.  No matter what, do not eat before bedtime. During the night when you are sleeping, you burn calories. I tested this by wearing a heart rate monitor (Garmin) and I typically would burn 600 or so calories from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Probably from the snoring, but hey, that’s free calorie burning time. You should wake up hungry, but don’t go crazy with breakfast. Have some fruit, some protein, and just a little bit of carbs to give you energy.
  2. If you want to go out and drink go right ahead – but do not eat before, during, or after. A couple of interesting tidbits on alcohol and your body: Alcohol is a toxin and your body wants to get rid of that toxin before it will do anything else. If you eat, that food just stays in your system that much longer because your body does not care about burning those calories as much as it cares about the toxin. Make sense? It took me a minute to figure it out, too, but you’re probably smarter than me so you should get it.

    Another fun fact if you don’t eat a bunch of garbage before you go out, you won’t drink as much, which reduces your toxin and calorie intake. That means there are fewer bad calories to burn off and more good calories for your body to focus on getting rid of.

I am no expert on any of this (obviously), I just like to talk. But it’s working for me and will work for you, too. 

I hope you enjoyed my bad grammar and the little story above. I’m looking forward to writing another update next month, and then I will talk about my workouts and how much fun those are — Ha!

Oh, by the way, in the weight loss/life change process you get many compliments, which always makes me wonder — how fat did you think I was before?!

Meet all of the competitors here and see who wins at the In Business Expo & Conference.

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