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Success Story: Looking the Way You Feel

It wasn't about failing health for this army recruit, it was about making his dream physique a reality.

JAMES M. FAIRLESS
Hometown: West Virginia
Age: 27
Height: 6'2"
Weight Before: 295 lbs.
Weight After: 243 lbs.

Holiday sweaters aren't particularly flattering on anyone, but one very unflattering holiday sweater picture was what it took to light a fire under James Fairless' ass to get in shape. "The breaking point was a picture my mother had of me in a holiday sweater. I looked huge. The picture of me didn't equate to how I felt—it didn't look like I thought I looked."

That incident combined with tipping the scales at almost 300 pounds were the motivation Fairless needed to get started on his quest for his dream body. "I couldn't believe I weighed 295 pounds. I decided there was no way I'd hit 300," he says. "I was tired of being tired. My knees and ankles ached, I'd be out of breath walking up a couple flights of stairs."

JAMES' ADVICE

It's Never Too Early to Start


Most people don't see the light until they've gotten dangerously out of shape, but Fairless advises people to get on the boat as soon as possible. “Don't wait until you get really heavy to start. It makes it a much longer road to recovery.”

He started shedding the weight in three phases. "First, I just started lifting weights, and my car had problems, so I ended up walking to school, in Arizona, in the summer. That's what got the first 20 pounds [off]," he says. Phase two, the next 15 pounds, was a bout of intense cardio—"an hour or two every day with two sweat suits on."

The final phase came when he joined the Army and was subjected to grueling basic training. "Runs three times a week, an hour of aerobic activity every morning and physically demanding tasks all day," he says. "And partially just being more cognizant of what I ate."

This active lifestyle became the norm for Fairless, and he continues to maintain a demanding routine. "From there to where I am now, I run 1.3 to 1.5 miles for [Army physical training] in the morning, then do the exercises with the rest of my unit, then run 0.7 miles back to the barracks. At lunch, I spend around 45 minutes lifting one or two muscle groups. Enough weight to hit failure between eight and 10 reps—maybe four to six different lifts, five sets each. And I approach it like one big superset, so eight to 10 reps of curls, then eight to 10 reverse curls, then eight to 10 tricep extensions, then do the whole thing five times," he says of his regimen.

Despite his success thus far, he's still moving hard towards a bigger goal. "I still want to drop down to 225 or so and maintain that weight, while improving my two-mile run time. It's down from 19:20 to 14:31, and I'd like to continue speeding up until I can get a 13:30 or so."

And even though he emphasizes how important being active is to weight loss, he acknowledges everyone's most loathsome part of getting fit—dieting. "Nutrition is key. Learn about what your body needs, and eat that," he explains. "You don't put 800 gallons of gas in your car to go down the street to the mall, so why do you need 5,000 calories of McDonald's a day if you're only burning 1,800?"

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