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Weight Loss All-Stars: Preston Thomas

Next in the line of inspiring stories coming out of CrossFit Dilworth - Preston Thomas outlines his story  that is typical of so many Americans, except for the fact he decided to do something about it.


1 - What was your weight at your heaviest?

205lbs. I am only 5’9.5

2 - Describe yourself back then.

It was the end of my junior year of college when I started to put on weight and it just ballooned through senior year and right up until I graduated law school. I had terrible eating habits. I ate massive amounts of calorie-laden food.

My favorite was Japanese drowned in shrimp sauce with at least 4-5 glasses of sweet tea. That occurred on a regular basis.

I exercised sporadically and never did any cardio. In law school, I went to class, studied, and ate. No real activity ever during those 2.5 years.



3 - Where did you start when you first decided to lose weight?

It was right after I finished law school. No job, studying for the bar. At first, the only thing I did was cut my portions in half. I ate all the same foods I was eating before, just half…sometimes a little less. My health obsessed/mildly crazy girlfriend (now my wife) educated me on calories and portion sizes. Apparently I was eating enough for 3 grown men at each meal.



4 - What were the 1-2 biggest keys in transforming yourself from then to now?

1. Diet – I lost 35 pounds in about 3 months just by changing diet. This was before I started a regular exercise program. I wasn’t “fat” any more and was getting a ton of compliments but I still wasn’t where I wanted to be.

2. Exercise – When I first started a consistent exercise program, it was your basic cardio and strength routine. 30-60 minutes of cardio and 3-4 days of strength training.




5 - Approximately how long did it take for the weight to come off?

It took about 6-9 months to reach 155, my goal weight. That is what I weighed my senior year of high school.



6 - What is your current weight?

145 pounds



7 - What role did CrossFit play in helping you reach your current weight?


CrossFit didn’t necessarily help with weight loss, it helped with changing my body composition. I was  strong and in shape and looked fine, but CrossFit plus switching to a majority Paleo diet really decreased my body fat percentage.

Within 2 months of starting CrossFit, I had more changes in my body than 8 months doing my old routine.



8 - Any advice for people out there that think transforming their body is next to impossible?

Once you put your mind to it, it can be easy. Stay prayed up on it and commit yourself mentally to diet and exercise. It really is 100% mental. It isn’t immediate and it takes work. Know that and keep with it.
A strong support system is also really key.

Having supporting family and friends played a large role in my weight loss journey, plus the coaches and people at CrossFit Dilworth who make you WANT to be in the gym, getting better each day.



Weight Loss All-Stars: Erika Brummel

The next body transformation I'm happy to highlight comes from one of the members of my athletic conditioning classes who has an amazing story to share. I won't ruin any of the details ahead of time, but her hard work and self-motivation is one of the most inspiring stories I've seen in a long time.

Thanks to Erika Brummel, who shares her amazing story here:



1 - What was your weight at your heaviest?

The heaviest I have ever been was 280 pounds.


2 - Describe yourself back then.


During my heaviest time I was around 21 years old. I was attending Queens University and playing on the softball team. At this point in my life I was enjoying the college life and food to the fullest. I did exercise almost 5 times a week and had strenuous conditioning workouts 3 times a week.  I always did stay very active but my energy levels were extremely low. I could complete workouts but it wasn't easy and it looked like I was always close to passing out.


My eating habits were horrible! Cafeteria food was my enemy because it was buffet style. I would eat everything. Also, I would eat fast food like you wouldn't believe because it was easy and convenient. I can remember getting a 20 piece nugget meal at McDonald's and adding a double cheeseburger to that. (Yes, I ate the whole thing.) So it didn't matter how much I worked out because my diet was terrible.



 3 - When you first decided you wanted to make a change, where did you start?


During my life I have made many efforts to try and change my eating habits and lifestyle. In high school I went to a nutritionist and lost around 35 pounds, but couldn't keep up and gained it all back. After college I did the P90x program twice and lost around 70 pounds. But once again I stopped and gained all the weight back. So now about 4 years later I hit a point where I decided enough was enough and I couldn't continue down this road again.


I decided that it was time to join the YMCA and change my life. I started first working out with a close friend who is a personal trainer and he showed me everything I needed to know about exercise. He motivated me to keep pushing even when I would doubt myself. He never let me quit and I think he believed more in me then I sometimes believed in myself. I also had my roommate Maggie who would join me in the gym and push me to go even when I didn't want to. She would take all the classes with me so working out would be fun. We struggled the first month pretty badly. We could barely do the athletic conditioning classes but we always stuck to it and never gave up. Having that support system from my trainer and roommate made working out easier and fun. Now exercising has become a daily routine for me. It just comes natural and I constantly think about wanting to workout.



4 - What were the 1-2 biggest keys in transforming yourself from then to now?


Everyone now asks me "what's your secret?" Honestly there is no secret. The secret is changing your eating habits and getting exercise. That's it, plain and simple! I eat a lot of lean meats, veggies, and fruits. I don't starve myself and once in a great while I'll have a cheat meal but I don't go overboard with it. The biggest change I’ve noticed is my energy and confidence levels. I'm no longer tired all the time which is very nice.


Also, once I got in the habit of eating healthy I no longer crave fatty foods. I pass by fast food places and have no desire to eat there anymore. With my energy levels being up, I usually workout anywhere from 5 to 7 days a week. I will do athletic conditioning classes about 3 days a week, and on the other days I'll do 30 minutes of cardio and then lift weights.


 5 - Approximately how long did it take for the weight to come off?


It took me about 7 and a half months to lose the weight. I am still trying to shed some more pounds and really focus on toning up. I never really had a set goal weight I just knew I wanted to be healthier and to keep going.



6 - How much weight have you lost? 


As of today I have lost a little over 75 pounds.

When I started going to the YMCA I was around 262 pounds. I am currently down to 184 pounds.


I have finally hit the mark for being considered normal and healthy for my age and height. This is actually the first time in my life where I have fit into that category. Throughout my entire life I have always been considered obese. So that for me was quite an exciting moment and accomplishment.


 7 - Any advice for other women out there that think transforming their body is next to impossible?


You know, I was always that girl who would look at the skinny and toned girls and say that it’s just not possible for me to get there. It will take way too long and I can never look like that. I would always doubt myself and I had it instilled in my mind I could never be that thin, toned girl. I constantly kept telling myself it wasn't possible so that's what I started to believe. I've been extremely overweight my entire life so it's really all I knew. I felt that being obese was how I was made to be and that I could never be anything else. Recently I decided enough was enough and I was going to change, but I was 100% ready and willing to make that change.


It wasn't easy and there were times I wanted to quit, but having the support from my friends helped me through any obstacle I ever faced. My advice to anyone out there who thinks it can't be done - it can!  I'm living proof of that.


If I can go from being extremely obese my entire life and make that change, anyone can. You just have to put your mind to it and never give up. You have to believe in yourself and give yourself courage to keep fighting. I'm not saying it's going to be easy, because it will be difficult at times but the end result is well worth it.  I promise you that!



Weight Loss All-Stars: Sebastian Ekberg

Some of the most popular content on this site has been weight loss transformation stories.  Those that have enjoyed that content have a lot to look forward to in the next few weeks as I have quite a few amazing weight loss stories to share from regular everyday people.

Several of my teammates and coaches from CrossFit Dilworth have experienced tremendous weight loss over the past couple years, and leading off is one of the most inspirational body transformation stories I've seen - Sebastian Ekberg.

I PROMISE the Before and After pictures are legimiately the same guy.



1 - What was your weight at your heaviest?



2 - Describe yourself back then (age/stage of life, eating habits, level of workouts vs inactivity).

I was 21 and in college. With the stress of school I pretty much let myself go, I really didn't care about eating healthy and I felt that were always watching what they were eating were not enjoying life.

I've always been an active person so I surfed a lot and would go to the gym to lift once a month or so. There were a lot of sports and activities that I wanted to do but I really wasn't able to due to my weight (Windsurfing etc).

When I would play sports with my friends I would always be exhausted very quickly and could barely run a mile. I think I actually feared that one day someone would make me run more than a mile, I dont really know what situation that would arise in but I generally stayed away from any physical activity that would last more than 20 minutes.



 3 - When you first decided to lose weight, where did you start?

I had tried several different diets before (weight watchers, atkins, etc) and had lost some weight but then gained it back.

My decision to lose weight occurred when I hit my own "rock bottom". I was on the Super Bowl special of  "Man vs. Food" and during the course of 3 hours I at an entire cake, several burgers, A Katz NY Deli Rueben, about 30 wings, and a 2 foot long cuban sandwich. I slept amazing that night, best food coma ever. The next morning I woke up and said to myself, "ok, mabye it wont hurt to lose 10lbs."

 4 - What were the 1-2 biggest keys in transforming yourself from then to now? (diet change, lifestyle change, workouts/CrossFit, etc)

The 2 biggest changes I made early on that resulted in the weight loss were:

Diet change:No Soda, ever. Switching all of my refined carbs to whole grains, no more white bread, rice, pasta etc.

Exercise: The first month all I did was walk on the incline treadmill for half an hour each day. I tried to make sure that I always burned 600 calories a day, incline walking will do that at 350. The most important thing was reminding myself to stay consistent, dont show up to the gym training like its a "Rocky" montage if youre not going to go back the next day to do it again. I scaled back my workouts to make sure that I didnt get burned out and stayed consistent, as my body started changing I increased the intensity to accommodate.

My biggest point to make would be that weight loss is 90% psychological, you absolutely have to change your mentality of how you view your life. I used to only look at food and think about what it was going to taste like, now I look at it as what is it going to do for me.



 5 -  Approximately how long did it take for the weight to come off?

3 months. Its kind of extreme, sometimes people think I starved myself but my plate was always full haha. I just made sure to eat filling foods that were fiber and protein rich.



6 - What is your current weight?




 7 - What role did CrossFit play in helping you reach your current weight?

When I started Crossfit I was running a lot. I weighed about 218 but wasn't really that athletic. Crossfit helped add on muscle mass that I was missing and it made me look at fitness a whole new way.

I used to go to the gym to stay in shape so it was kind of a chore. I now look forward to go WOD everyday because of the amazing community that CrossFit has and how everyone is like minded in their pursuit of better fitness.





 8 - Any advice for people out there that think transforming their body is next to impossible?

Always set short term goals, small victories add up. Don't think about losing 100lbs, focus on short term goals of 5lbs at a time and make sure to track it. I would always tell myself, "ok I lost 5lbs, lets see if I can lose another 5". I still have my weight tracking written down in a journal.



Weight Loss All-Stars Volume 2: Brendan

It's been a while, but previously I highlighted one of my friends for her inspiring weightloss story.  For volume two of the Weight Loss All-Stars, we're going to look at one of the more incredible body transformations you'll see.

Pictured on the right, is a "before" photo of my friend Brendan.  He has become one of the regulars who crushes the workouts at my YMCA Athletic Conditioning classes each week.  

I want to avoid spoiling the details of hisBrendan [Before] awesome story, in which he lost close to 95 pounds.  He was nice enough to share his story in our Q&A session below.

Be inspired.


What's your athletic background?  

 I have been involved in sports my entire life. Was a three sport athlete in High School (Football, Basketball, and Baseball). However; my main sports were football and baseball. I attended Catholic University of America and played both Baseball & Football my freshmen year. It became too much so I chose to focus solely on football.


What was your weight at its highest, vs your current (average) weight? How long did the process take?


I graduated high school in 2000 right around 225 lbs. Finished football my 5th year Dec 2004 right around 265 lbs (although it was an in shape 265 lbs). Once I graduated I dropped back down to 225 lbs. From Jan 2006 to May 2009 I slowly put on weight. The most I ever saw on a scale was 296 lbs in May 2009 (although it was very likely that I was 10 to 15 pounds bigger than that a few weeks before, just never got on a scale). In Dec 2009 I hit 203 lbs on the scale. On average I have been about 215 since.


What caused you to want to make a change?


One of my roommates from colleges’ girlfriend was venturing out on her own as a health coach. She had success in the corporate world as a health consultant and decided it was time to branch out on her own. I was her first client. I knew in order for ME to really make a long term change I would need to make a pretty big financial commitment. This way I would be forced to stick with the program (in fear of just wasting my money).

So it was time for my yearly checkup at the doctors office. On the way to the doctors office (I knew I was going to have to get on a scale and was mortified at what I would see) So, I called my Buddy’s gf and signed up. I paid $1400 upfront and the program lasted 6 months. I lost 93 pounds. Best money I have ever spent.

What were your initial first steps?


I had completely stopped working out for nearly 3 years. Which was odd because I had been so active my entire life. So I slowly started working out again. Along with working out again (at first just 2 times a week) I was watching what I ate. I was eating a great deal of organic foods for the first time in my life. I was also consuming a ton of fruits and veggies. However; I still ate what I what I wanted one day a week. She encouraged me to find things that I enjoyed to do. I started volunteering at Big Brothers and Big Sisters and started attending a class 2 times a week at the YMCA (Athletic Conditioning). I got hooked on both, and still do both to this day.

Did you ever get discouraged during the process?


I was by far the most out of shape person in the Athletic Conditioning Class. I was running 12 minute miles where the slowest person besides me was running under 9 minute miles. I couldn’t do a single pull up and I could barely do 5 push ups, where the rest of the class were doing sets of 25 push ups. However; I stuck with it and it paid off.

 Did your diet change at all from your heavier days, to now?


I have changed my diet, but not a great deal. I don’t eat fast food or anything like that, but for the most part I eat and drink what I want.



Describe your fitness activities these days 

 Working out has become a part of my everyday life.  I continue to take athletic conditioning class about 4 times a week. I am also a member of Crossfit, which I love. I also run competitive races now and compete in Crossfit events.

I have recently got my mile time down to 5:16 and can do 30 pull ups at once. I am by far the most fit I have ever been and stride to improve that fitness level each day.







(Above is Brendan's "After" photo.  Doesn't even seem like the same guy, does it?)




What would you say to heavy people who feel like remaking their body composition is "impossible"?


 Losing weight is really quite simple. The key is to stay dedicated and find something that you really enjoy doing. Once you find something that you enjoy, it doesn’t become work anymore it becomes fun and you look forward to working out.


What other advice would you give to a heavy person who has yet to make a change?

 It took me 6 months to loose my weight. It comes off fast, you just have to stick with it and make a lifestyle change. The key is taking it off and keeping it off. Once your workout and diet become a habit, then its smooth sailing….


There are many different paths to significant weightloss and body transformation, however the main consistent is a combination of work ethic and an internal desire to make a change in your life.  I hope to continue spotlighting people once in a while that have made dramatic physical improvements in their health and nutritional lifestyle. 

For anyone reading this who may not like what they see in the mirror, on the scale, or struggle fitting into their old jeans - hopefully Brendan's awesome transformation story help to inspire that with hard work, patience, and a plan, anyone can achieve great results.



Fitness Spotlight: Regular People (vol. 2)

I thought I would take a break from supplying Fitness Spotlights on the "stars" of the sports/fitness industry and highlight some regular every-day people who have done inspiring things.  Technically, this is volume 2 highlighting regular people since KathEats is considered as the first installment.

My friend Carrie started her weight loss journey on New Years' Day 2010.  She did the right thing by taking a two-pronged approach to weight loss, not only did she aspire to become a more fit person through sweat equity (ie: workouts) but she enlisted the help of Medi-Weigh Loss Clinics to discuss a better approach to eating and nutrition.

To climb on the soap box for a brief moment, it is almost heart-breaking to see so many people each week who clearly want to change their bodies but think they can continue eating poorly and "sweat it off".  Carrie's results just reinforce the proven axiom that diet amplifies positive weight loss results from exercise.

In addition to Carrie's new disciplined approach to nutrition, she became a regular at our group fitness classes at the Dowd YMCA in Charlotte.  I was proud to see her hesitantly step into one of my classes (fearing she wouldn't be able to cut it) and then power through the whole thing after a couple sessions.

I won't spoil all the details of Carrie's story, which is detailed here on her great blog, but in less than six months, she's lost over 30 pounds and dropped 10% body fat as well. 

I met Carrie through her boyfriend, who is an old high school football teammate, friend, and general all around great guy (he's also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert).  We're all tremendously proud of her progress and success, and hopefully her story can serve as motivation and example for countless others with the same goals.