By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
The deck had always been stacked against Lee Schloss when it came to his weight. A family history of obesity combined with a self-proclaimed addiction to food meant that he was seemingly destined to be obese.
At 29 years old and 351 pounds, this self-fulfilling prophecy was becoming stark reality.
“I didn’t have any energy, had swollen feet and ankles and suffered from sleep apnea,” said Schloss of McLeansville, North Carolina. “Even mundane daily tasks like taking out the trash were exhausting.”
Then in September 2014, Schloss, a product engineer at networking and telecommunications provider CommScope, drew up a wellness contract, committing to making healthy eating choices and walking each day during his lunch break. Coworkers Robert Ashby, Joe Geniac and Mark Lineberry joined him in signing on the dotted line.
The foursome weighed in each week, tracking their progress on a spreadsheet. Schloss had to use a freight scale for his initial weigh-in, as a typical bathroom scale didn’t measure high enough.
They started with 15-minute walks during lunchtime, then increased to 20 and eventually 30 minutes. They opted for lean protein and vegetable-heavy meals, and replaced soda with water.
After three weeks, Schloss had lost 25 pounds.
“I was floored,” he said. “I decided I wanted to get down to 275 by my 30th birthday in February.”
Sticking to the changes was hard at first, but the comradery among the group kept him motivated.
“We call ourselves the ‘CommScope Spartans.’ The group mentality was what ultimately pushed me to where I am now,” he said.
Where he is now is competing in running competitions.
He started small, with the No Boundaries Couch to 5K beginner training program. Schloss was hovering around 300 pounds at that point. With the help of running coach Stacie Battjes, he completed the Hospice Hope 5K in Winston-Salem last April. He had officially caught the running bug.
Schloss continued to train and completed a 10K last June. Then last November, he finished his first half-marathon. This year, he plans to complete a full marathon.
“It felt like I was shooting for the stars and hit the moon,” Schloss said. Eventually, he’d like to compete in an Ironman triathlon.
Schloss recently won the Bank of Oak Ridge Healthy Heart Challenge, a contest held in partnership with the American Heart Association to honor someone who has changed their lifestyle.
He hopes to inspire others to do the same. “Don’t ever give up. Baby steps are still progress,” Schloss said.
Schloss is now down to around 200 pounds.
“I have better personal skills, more confidence, I’m doing better at work and I have a much higher energy level in general,” he said. “It’s not just my body that is transformed, it’s my whole world.”
Photos courtesy of Lee Schloss