Success Story: Sam Bridgewater
He wouldn't let problems at home or a nasty streak of injuries keep him from getting in shape
Hometown: Arlington, VA
Weight Before: 250 lbs
Weight After: 160 lbs
Two torn ACLs, a broken collarbone, and a dislocated shoulder can be a lot for any guy to overcome. Throw in the girlfriend from hell and it would be almost impossible not to pack on the pounds. Just ask Sam Bridgewater.
A former amateur motocross rider, Bridgewater, 28, tore his right ACL for the first time in 2003. Six months later, he tore it again. A broken foot and additional shoulder mishaps followed in quick succession. Like many Americans, he turned to food for comfort.
“I was heavy my entire life, but it never really got too bad until my mid-20s,” he says. “That’s when I started putting on more and more weight.” Sugary drinks from his one-time sponsor, Monster Energy, were a favorite indulgence, followed by lots of ice cream, tacos, and pizza. “I’d eat nonstop, really,” he remembers. “I always had a sweet tooth and it seemed to just get worse and worse. Before long, none of my clothes were fitting. I felt like crap and I started to hate how I looked.”
Once his injuries finally healed, Bridgewater decided he’d had enough. It was time to get back to the gym. But his girlfriend of three years not only didn’t trust him, she seemed determined to sabotage his progress. “She thought I was going there to try and meet girls, so she joined so she could come with,” he says. “As soon as she left, she’d want to go to McDonald’s.”
It was a pattern for the small-town couple, originally from Cape Cod, MA. “We really didn’t do anything other than sit at home, argue, and eat,” he says. Mercifully, they split a few months later.
Free of his ball and chain, Bridgewater gave himself 12 weeks to get back into racing shape. “I basically stuck to the elliptical for about four months,” he says. Soon, he was up to an hour a day, every day. Gradually, he began lifting weights and even kicked the junk food habit. “It’s the same as any other addiction,” he says. “You have to take it slow. If you quit cold turkey, it’s almost impossible.”
Three months into his new regimen, Bridgewater had lost a solid 30 pounds. Stoked by his progress, he even entered a bodybuilding contest, placing fourth.
Sixty pounds later, and now a manager of a vitamin store in Arlington, VA, he still sees his ex around the Cape. “She looks exactly the same,” he says, “and she’s still just as miserable. And I’m actually doing something with my life.”
SAM’S TIP: FOCUS ON TODAY, NOT TOMORROW
“Obviously, it’s good to have long-term goals,” he says, “but it’s a lot easier to think about making it to the end of this week than it is to think about making it to the end of a year from now. It’s the little things that keep you going.”