There's no quick fix, as the stories of trainer Marcus Santi and photographer Justin Burks demonstrate.
Marcus Santi, personal trainer:
Fitness programs and apparatus are often promoted by incredibly fit men and women with the implied or spoken message that you will look like them if you follow their simple routines.
The problem is that their routines are not simple. They take hours of disciplined practice every week, and must be combined with rigorous dieting and god-given good health.
Santi, 38, a personal trainer in Memphis, is an elite runner, lifelong athlete, and all-around jock. In his promotional video, he is running up a sand dune, hopping up on a dresser, doing squats on one leg, and sprinting in a harness. He works out six to eight hours a week, plus the time he spends training others.
“The key as you get older is time management and energy issues,” he said. What I do is try to kill as many birds as I can with one stone by combining lifting with aerobic benefits and flexibility. My heart rate is constantly up and I am always moving.”
He started running track when he was 5, starting taking tennis lessons at the Racquet Club when he was 11, played competitive soccer, and ran the 400-meter hurdles at the University of Memphis. Now 6’-1” and 170 pounds, he has never been out of shape.
He takes one or two days a week off — “rest is part of the program” — but never Sunday. No matter what he did Saturday night, he goes to the track and meets his buddies Sunday afternoon to do interval training. You can see the results.
Justin Fox Burks: fitness and coping with grief:
There are harder things that losing weight. Moving on after the death of a family member is one of them. For Justin Fox Burks, his fitness quest was part of coming to grips with his grief over the death of his mother in an accident.
Burks, a photographer whose pictures have often appeared in this newspaper, is just short of six feet tall, weighs 195 pounds, and competes in triathlons. Two years ago he weighed 265 pounds despite being a vegetarian and leading a reasonably active lifestyle.
“I was riding my bike and doing the things I thought I should be doing, but not with the frequency I should have been doing them,” said Burks, 34 years old. “I was eating all the right things but with lots of cheese on them, and with too much bread.”
Combining running short distances with walking, he worked up to a one-mile run, then a 5K race on the Fourth of July, which took him 35 minutes. In October, his mother was killed in a car accident. Justin and other family members dedicated themselves to raising money in her name for the St. Jude Half Marathon.
“Running became for me a great release to keep me busy and direct my energies,” he said. “I definitely became more focused.”
With his weight down to 220 pounds, he set his sights on finishing a triathlon and the Chicago Marathon in 2009, both of which he completed. With more training, he changed his diet. He made a $200 weight-loss bet with his brother and their father, which he lost. But he dropped his weight to 195 pounds by going Vegan, eliminating beer and alcohol, and watching his sugar intake. You can read and see more at his blog, The Chubby Vegetarian.
He has modified that to “Vegan until 6 p.m.”
“I eat fresh fruit and vegetables but no dairy until six, then I will have a pizza or enchiladas after six so I never feel deprived.”