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Success Story: "I Was Morbidly Obese"

Excess weight was dragging this father and his family down, so he carved himself into serious shape.

LANCE LYELL
Hometown: Champagne, Illinois
Age: 35
Height: 5'10"
Weight Before: 267 lbs. at 35% body fat
Weight After: 196 lbs. at 8% body fat

“I was pretty ashamed of how far I had let things go,” says Lance Lyell, a 35-year-old father of two from Champagne, Illinois, who spends his days behind a desk as an insurance adjuster. He’s talking about the picture you see above, which was taken on a family vacation in Disneyland. He knew he had put on weight since his college days, but the 267-pound guy staring back at him was a stranger. “My doctor told me that my blood pressure was high and that she was thinking about putting me on medication and that she had concerns about diabetes,” explains Lyell. “But seeing that picture kinda woke me up.” He had been an active child and young adult, and throughout college he’d never had a problem staying fit. “I was active, I played sports when I was in college,” he says. “It was pretty simple. I got out of college, started working behind a desk, and began eating.” Lyell wouldn’t eat breakfast, though. His first meal would usually come around 11 AM, by which time he would be famished. “Lunch was wherever I was going with clients—either fast food or a restaurant. I might hit a vending machine and have a candy bar at around 2 PM.” He ate whatever his wife cooked for dinner, but the culprits for his weight gain were the snacks he indulged in before bed. “The big thing was at, like, nine o’clock at night, I’d have cookies or ice cream. Always some sugary snack,” he recalls. At the end of the day he wouldn’t even have the energy to play with his two daughters. "I was morbidly obese with pains everywhere from my feet to my back."

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“I had tried to go to gyms, but worked out two to three weeks and quit. When I found a good support group of guys that were doing it every morning, it was a lot easier to work out.”

To lose weight, Lyell began training for a 5k race. He’d run six to 15 miles each week, but he didn’t adjust his diet at all. While he was able to finish the race, his physical appearance didn’t really change—he only dropped 12 pounds. So, after he conquered his 5k, he moved on to a more challenging endeavor—a half marathon. He ramped up his training, running up to 21 miles each week as he prepared his body. He finished his half marathon, but his weight didn’t budge—he was still sitting at around 255 pounds. “After I ran that marathon, it finally sunk in: This isn’t going to happen unless I change the way I eat,” he says.

He picked up the P90X program and followed their instructions to the T. “I started eating around 2,000 calories, with 50% protein, 30% carbs and 20% fat,” he explains. “I cut out white bread, noodles, dairy.” He bases his diet around lean proteins and vegetables and downs shakes filled with fruits, protein and veggies when he’s feeling hungry. He gets his workouts in at 5 AM every morning, and while he struggled with the program at first due to his size, he’s become so strong that he now wears a weighted vest when he’s working out to increase the difficulty of the exercises. “It’s a 40-pound weight vest,” says Lyell. “I’m at a point where I don’t want to get leaner, I want to gain a little bit of mass. So I need more weight so I can’t do quite as many push-ups and pull-ups.” Even better, he has enough energy to play with his daughters for hours after he gets home from work. Something tells us that means more to him than a few extra push-ups.

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