Hometown: Naperville, Ill.
Weight Before: 277 lbs
Weight Now: 187 lbs
As a member of the football team at Division III Central College in Pella, Iowa, Dean Chapman loved working out. But after leaving school in 1986, his hours at the gym were replaced by long hours on the couch. “I just didn’t have that level of enthusiasm anymore,” he says.
His lack of exercise found an evil partner in his eating habits. It wasn’t unusual for Chapman to polish off 20 chicken wings as an appetizer before devouring a high-fat, high-calorie entree. “When I was playing sports, I could eat whatever I wanted without gaining weight,” he says.
But since he wasn’t playing anymore, Chapman never burned off what he ate. Over the next 23 years, Chapman ballooned from 186 pounds to a whopping 277—at 40% body fat.
As Chapman’s weight spiked, his health nose-dived. He had symptoms of sleep apnea, which sapped his energy. He also suffered from acid reflux, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Although he tried to get back on track a few times, excuses always tripped him up, sending him back to the couch and farther into his slide.
In January 2009, Chapman finally found the motivation he needed—at work. His employer, an office products supplier, started a free on-site employee fitness program; he signed up for a 12-week boot camp.
At first, he committed to two training sessions a week. The workouts were tough, but he was determined to succeed. “I knew I would see results if I worked hard enough,” he says.
Chapman also revamped his diet. He cut out most saturated fat and downsized his portions.
Soon, the weight was falling off, which sparked Chapman to start training nearly every day. He combined the boot camp sessions at work with spinning classes and weightlifting, often with his wife—who lost 35 pounds herself.
Today, at 46, he’s dropped almost 100 pounds, lowered his body fat to 11%, and stabilized his blood pressure and cholesterol.
While the boot camp provided Chapman with the opportunity and discipline he needed, his true motivations were age (“If I kept putting off my health, I knew I’d be in my 50s and asking for trouble”) and ego. “Although I still talk about the old days, I don’t have to say ‘used to’ anymore.”
Justin’s Tip: Be Realistic
“Regular goals are the best way to stay motivated. Instead of thinking long term, figure out what you’re willing to commit to each week—and do it.”