Hometown: West Hollywood, Calif.
Weight Before: 170 lbs
Weight Now: 160 lbs
Body Fat Before: 22%
Body Fat After: 9%
Many Americans have trouble digesting their meals. Like most of them, Marc Ware assumed his stomach problems were untreatable. But a friend, trainer Joey Emont, felt otherwise and persuaded Ware to try an elimination diet—sequentially removing various foods from his diet until he discovered the cause of his discomfort. The first foods to go were dairy, and bingo! "Within two or three days, I thought,'Oh my God, this is an epiphany,'" recalls Ware, 55. "The difference was incredible— I felt so much better."
All those years, Ware had been lactose intolerant, a deficiency that affects about 50 million Americans (and approximately 70% of African Americans). Upon removing all things dairy, he no longer suffered stomach bloating or diarrhea. His health no longer holding him back, Ware decided it was time for even bigger changes. For 15 years, he'd casually hit the gym twice a week with little success. He weighed 170 pounds—not overweight by any means, but his body fat had still risen to 22%, and most of it was around his gut. (It wasn't surprising since he ate out with friends almost every day.) "I love Mexican food and I love fast food," Ware confesses. "That was my downfall."
He hired a nutritionist, who helped him completely overhaul his diet. Chicken breasts, plant-based protein shakes, organic rice cakes, and spinach replaced tacos and margaritas. The meals seemed boring initially, but Ware stuck with it. "You may not like it the first day, you may not like it on Day 4, but by Day 8 or 9, it's not so bad," he says.
Ware also hit the gym—hard. "I realized that all these years I had been doing situps and leg raises, but that's not the best way to build ab muscle," he says. "You have to be intense." He began a four-times-a-week lifting program and added two ab-specific workouts, as well as biking, tennis, and Pilates. Gradually, Ware's body fat dropped and his midsection firmed up. By March 2010, he was getting compliments on his six-pack. "Once you have it, you want to just keep it," he says. "You don't want to disappoint yourself or let yourself down."
Now a trim 160 pounds with 9% body fat, he continues to lift four times a week and eat a healthy, lactose-free diet. Most days, lunch is grilled fish and salad at his desk. He still goes out to eat with friends, but he now keeps an eye on his portions. Those margaritas? "If I go out now, I have one. Before, I would have ordered at least three," Ware says. "That's the difference."
That and a healthy discovery that inspired his new commitment to fitness.
Marc's Tip: Find the Right Gym
"Surrounding yourself with people who are motivated and fit makes it easier to motivate yourself. If you go to a gym where everybody's big and fat and doesn't seem to care, then you won't care, either."