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Weight Loss Interviews - Steve

Posted May 14 2009 5:05pm
Steve was 160 pounds when he graduated from high school and entered the Navy but years later, at 38 and being married for almost 13 years, he broke the 200 pound mark topping out at 212. Steve says he started burn the fat, feed the muscle on my recommendation and dropped 25 pounds. A knee injury a few months later stopped him in his tracks and the weight began to creep back on.

He started blogging about his journey on the website No More Fat Dad, and says his turning point was in 2005 when he overheard one of his young sons friends say "Your dad’s fat!"

After dropping 21 pounds in the past 11 weeks, he's on a mission to pass the Navy SEAL fitness challenge.

Steve, aka No More Fat Dad, is a 38 year old sales engineer for a small company that sells Google Enterprise solutions to the U.S. Federal Government and hails from Cleveland, Ohio.

Rob Thanks for taking the time to do the interview Steve. I'm glad I had an impact on you - it's why I run the site here. I know you're married, so tell me a little about your wife.

Steve I'm lucky to be married to Christine, the best wife ever. Nobody else would put up with me as much as she does. We've been married for 12, going on 13 years.

Rob Awesome. I'm lucky enough to be blessed with a very good woman too. What about the kids?

Steve As if having the best wife wasn't enough of a blessing, I have two great young boys. Zach is 8 and Alex is 6. They enjoy all types of sports, playing tag, riding their bikes and scooters, Pokemon (ugh!) and reading and their Nintendo DS'.

Rob Tell me more about why you started your weight loss program. Did you have a specific reason to start?

Steve Several actually, but two that are the most important to me.

A few years back, 2005 I think it was, I knew I was overweight. I topped out at 212 pounds and decided to do something about it. Your site was one of the first I came across and your story was very inspirational. You also led me to Burn the Fat, Feed The Muscle and that helped me drop around 25 pounds.

Unfortunately, I hurt my knees on a trampoline (that's when I realized I'm not 18 anymore) and was unable to keep running, which was my main cardio workout. I tend to be an "all or nothing" kind of guy, so when I couldn't run anymore, I gave up all together.

Fast forward a few years. I put back on the weight I'd lost and was now at 208. This past fall, during my boy's flag football season, I was messing around with the kids and one of them told Zach "you're dad's fat"! That absolutely floored me. I'd never been called fat in my life. Heck, when I joined the Navy, I was 160 pounds and I'm 5' 11".

That comment made me re-evaluate my health and fitness. I didn't want to be known as the fat dad and I'm sure my son's didn't want to hear me getting called names like that. I knew it was time to do something, but with the holidays coming, I decided to wait until the new year.

The second reason is because I haven't slept with my wife for the better part of 5 years. I found out that when I hit 190-192 on the scale, I snore every night. And when I say snore, I mean bring the house down snore. Not only do I snore on my back, I snore on my side, front, no matter the position I'm in, I snore. Christine wasn't able to get any sleep and with her being a stay-at-home mother, she really needed it. So I've been relegated to the guest room these past 5 years.

I finally realized that our "arrangement" wasn't too good for our marriage. We're like all the typical couples, we have our ups and our downs. But not sleeping together really changes the dynamics. It's more like we're live in friends with benefits than husband and wife. I wanted to be husband and wife again.

Rob What was your starting weight and your current weight?

Steve This time around, my starting weight was 208 pounds. Currently I'm at 187 for a total loss so far of 21 pounds in 11 weeks.

Rob 21 pounds in 11 weeks - Congratulations, well done. Do you have a weight loss goal? Is it a weight number or body fat number you're shooting for?

Steve I have a few goals, both mini-goals and ultimate goals. My weight goal is 180 pounds, but I'm re-evaluating that right now. Since I'm just 7 pounds a way, I can see in the mirror that I can stand to lose more so I'm going to adjust that down to 170.

I typically set mini-goals at the 5 pound marks. So right now, I'm at 187, my mini-goal is 185. After that, my mini-goal is 180. It's a lot easier to focus on the smaller goals that ultimately get you to the big goals.

Just this past week, I put down a body fat percentage goal of 20%. That's my current goal, with my ultimate goal being 15%. When I get there, I may want to get leaner, but I'm pretty sure that's the leanest I've ever been in my adult life so I'll be extremely happy with that.

My final goal is to fit back into size 32 jeans. It was pretty embarrassing to have a waist size that is 20% bigger than the length of my pants. As of yesterday, I'm comfortably in 34s and when I started, I was busting out of my 36's (I refused to buy 38s).

Rob Nice goals. I like the idea of mini goals that you're setting. Instead of looking at the "big picture" and being overwhelmed with 50 pounds to lose, shoot for 5 pounds at a time. Awesome stuff. What sort of exercise program are you following?

Steve I started off with the Men's Health Belly Off program. It's kind of funny, in December I received a copy of Men's Health in the mail. I hadn't subscribed, and nobody I know admitted to subscribing me, but I'm glad I got it. That issue had a short mention of the Belly Off program. Since I knew I was going to start something at the beginning of the year, I decided to check it out.

I loved it! Short workouts that relied on body weight and just a few pieces of simple equipment (fit ball, chinup bar) that I could do at home. I signed up, printed off the materials and got started on January 8th.

The Belly Off program is 8 weeks long. As I was nearing the end of the 8 weeks, I started looking for something else. Since I'm no fitness expert, I knew I couldn't do it on my own. I needed a plan like Belly Off.

The creator of Belly Off, Craig Ballantyne, has another program called Turbulence Training. I decided to stick with what was working and downloaded Turbulence Training which I've been doing since the beginning of March.

Rob I'm in the process of interviewing Craig Ballantyne right now. Excellent program, that Turbulence Training. Tell me more about your experience with Turbulence Training.

Steve You could say I'm a gym rat now. I'm in the gym 4-5 times a week. But the beauty of Turbulence Training is that I'm only there for an hour at the most each time. All told, I spend 5 hours a week in the gym.

Three days a week I do resistance training and then interval training. Once a week I'm in the pool swimming laps getting ready for the Navy SEAL Fitness Challenge in May. If I'm feeling like I need some extra work, I'll throw in one extra interval session for the week.

Rob What's y our favorite exercise?

Steve I really enjoy the swimming. Having been born in Miami and growing up on the water, I was always a strong swimmer. After years of being out of the water, it's been fun getting back into the water on a regular basis.

Out of the exercises I do for resistance training, I'd have to say pullups are my favorite. Simply because, when I started I couldn't do a single one. Over the past 11 weeks I've been able to build up my strength to the point that I can do 5. I love the challenge of trying to improve on something I wasn't able to do at all before.

Rob Oh I know how that is - I love seeing the progression of strength - to be able to lift something that you couldn't before, to be able to do more pushups than when you started, it's awesome. When I began back in 1990 I could only do 3 pushups and I had to do them incline on the stairs. Are there any obstacles you had to overcome to begin exercising / keep exercising?

Steve In the beginning it was all mental. I had to overcome the lazy habits I'd developed over the years. It was a struggle to wake up in the mornings to go do my intervals. Or I would make excuses for not getting the bodyweight workouts in at night. It was all an internal mental battle.

But over time, that changed. So much so, that if I couldn't get a planned workout in when I wanted, I'd get grumpy and feel miserable. After overcoming the mental obstacles, I looked forward to working out and started seeking new challenges.

Rob What is your goal in regards to exercising?

Steve Obviously, this is a lifestyle not a short term program. Keeping that in mind, I've been looking for challenges to keep me motivated to stay healthy.

For example, I've signed up for the Navy SEAL Fitness Challenge taking place in May. To pass the challenge you have to complete the following test;

500M swim (breast stroke or side stroke) in 12:00 minutes or less
40 pushups (or more) in 2:00 minutes
40 situps (or more) in 2:00 minutes
6 pullups (no time limit)
1.5 mile run in 12:00 minutes or less

I figure if I can pass that, I'm in good shape. And, it's a great reason for me to keep going. I don't want to get to the challenge and embarrass myself and it would be fun to do better than some of the kids trying it.

I'm also doing a triathlon sprint this summer. It's just one more event that will keep me motivated.

That's my plan for staying in shape. Constantly seek out new challenges that will push me to stay fit and get better all the time.

Rob Great goals - I wish you the best of luck with the SEAL fitness Challenge. Be sure to let us know how that goes. What sort of nutrition program are you following?

Steve None really. At least not any book type of plan.

In the past, I'd obsess over each calorie, measuring out everything. I kept track of everything I ate and worried all the time. That was just too much for me and I couldn't sustain it.

This time around, I decided to count calories for the first few weeks to get a baseline. Once I had that, I was able to figure out what I could eat for my meals and snacks and I've stuck with that.

My basic approach has been to eliminate all the processed foods, the junk food, the sugars and the sodas. I've replaced all that with whole natural foods, lots of fruits and veggies. One of the immediate benefits I noticed was that my sweet cravings (I'm a HUGE chocoholic) were gone within a week.

When I eat out or I'm in a situation where I don't control what I'm eating or how much is put on my plate, I just rely on portion control.

Rob What is one of the cardinal rules of nutrition that you have learned, always follow or never break?

Steve Dump the sodas & drink lots of water! I went cold turkey on January 1 and it's made a huge difference. It was nothing for me to go through a 6 pack a day (with no water), and there was usually a twinkie or a little debbie or a chocolate bar going down with each one of those sodas. That is the one food item I do not allow myself to have any more.

Rob Do you have a food tip that you'd like to share?

Steve Sure. Have fun with your food. I was a picky eater vowing I'd never eat "rabbit food" (aka salads). The only veggies I'd touch were beans, peas and corn.

Living this new lifestyle required me to get adventurous with my food. I've since learned that I love avocados, spinach, salads, mangoes, carrots, figs and a lot more. Each time I go to the store, I look for something new to try out from the fruit and veggie isle. I've discovered a whole new world and it's made eating a lot more fun since I'm not having the same old thing day in and day out.

Rob Nice. Greens are good! Do you allow for a reward meal? A reward day?

Steve Not really. I don't feel like I'm depriving myself of anything so I don't think I need to have a reward meal/day.

The one indulgence I do allow myself when I reach a goal or after being good for a few days is a square or two of dark chocolate. As I mentioned before, I'm a chocoholic. One of the lessons I've learned is that just one or two small squares of dark chocolate is enough to satisfy me, I don't need the entire bar or bag to enjoy it.

Rob How important do you regard proper rest and sleep in your weight loss program?

Steve Rest and sleep are very important to me. Getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night allows your body to release chemicals that help in weight loss and muscle building. If you get any less, your body will release stress hormones which can sabotage your weight loss. I'd rather work with my body than against it.

Rob What sort of nutritional supplements do you use?

Steve Not a single one. Besides being cheap, I just don't think they work. If they did, we wouldn't have this obesity epidemic going on while the supplement industry continues to set revenue records. Everyone taking the supplements would be fit and slim and the companies pushing them wouldn't have any more customers. Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I think the pharma companies, and others, are in this for themselves, not to help me or anyone else truly get in shape.

Rob Why did you start blogging your journey at

Steve My original goal of was to share my experiences doing the Belly Off program with everyone else on the program. I figured if I was going through something, others were too and it may help them to know they're not alone. It was also a way for me to share my success with them so they could see that the program works.

Obviously, this put pressure on me to keep going because I couldn't live with myself if I just gave up with others watching. So it was great for accountability. Once I started getting some readers and feedback it made me want to keep going and do the best I could.

It turns out, what I started for the purpose of helping others ended up helping me. I've received quite a few messages and comments telling me how motivational I am. ME! That's very humbling to have others say you've motivated them and I'm happy I could do something for them. I never thought of it that way, but just knowing I was motivating even one other person really made the blog worth it and pushed me to succeed.

I've also received great feedback when I needed help. The power of the web community is amazing and I'm always very appreciative when someone offers advice. Thank you to all the NMFD readers and people who comment, I owe a lot to each and every one of you.

Rob If you had any advice to anyone who's considering starting a weight loss journey, or someone who knows they should start but haven't yet, what would you say?

Steve Stop thinking, start doing and realize it will be hard work.

A favorite quote of mine is " To have more, you must first be more", written by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. That quote sits on my desk and stares at me every day. To me it means, if you want to be fit or in shape you have to put in the hard work. Nothing comes easy and nothing is handed to you. You have to go out and get it. When you've put in the work and you've given it everything, you'll eventually become the person you want to be, you'll be "more".

Rob Awesome Steve, thanks for all the insight into your new lifestyle. Thanks also for the heads up on the Navy SEAL fitness challenge - I'll have a longer look at it in the future.

For more information on what was discussed here in the interview, check out my interview with Turbulence Training author Craig Ballantyne, the Navy SEAL fitness challenge and Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle by Tom Venuto. Steve's exercise program this time around was inspired by his participation in the Mens Health Belly Off Program.

My last weight loss blogger interview was with Andrew Scott, another blogger doing Turbulence Training.
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