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If I can do it, anyone can!

Belly Off All-Stars

Belly Off All-Star<br/>Mark Davis<br/>Men's Health Magazine

You've read their weight-loss success stories. But how are they doing now, years later? Here's the happy news.

It's a word that comes tough to most men: "failure." But for those whose lives are weighed down by extra pounds, it's a word they get used to pretty quickly. The statistics aren't encouraging: For every five men who start a diet, four will fail and remain fat, or-more disheartening-lose the weight and gain it right back.

Unless those men are members of the Men's Health Belly Off! Club. When we started profiling weight-loss success stories back in January 2001, it was simply a way to encourage readers by example. "Hey, look," each article seemed to say, "if this guy did it, so can you." But when we checked in with some of the men we'd profiled, we realized that the club is much more than a friendly pat on the back; it's the ultimate Rolodex of real-world weight-loss experts-men who possess the blueprint to beating fat for good.

Every club member we called has not only kept the weight off, but also used the change as a springboard to improve everything about his life. What's even more admirable is that these men did it on their own. No cameras. No celebrity trainers. No personal chefs. Each man simply woke up one morning, decided This time, I'm gonna lose weight, and, regardless of previous failures, went ahead and did it. And then he kept it off. Here's how.

How he lost it: Bay Area resident Mark Davis shrank from 235 pounds to 175 in just 12 weeks using a crash diet, then rebounded all the way up to 368 pounds. After an embarrassing episode on a theme-park ride (the restraining bar wouldn't fit over him), he vowed to lose the weight for good. He started with an exercise bike, working up from 2 minutes a day at the lowest intensity to 30 minutes at the highest. Then he took up weight training. Four years later, he was down to 200 pounds. "I lost the weight slowly," Davis says. "That's the biggest mistake people make-they think it's a race. I lost eight-tenths of a pound each week for 4 years."

His new life: Shortly after downsizing his body, Davis was downsized out of a job. "I saw that as a sign," he says. "I was never happy as a CPA, so I went back to school." Today, he's an ACSM-certified trainer with the San Francisco Bay Club, a part-time triathlon coach, and a full-time father of two girls. And did we mention the Ironman competitions? Davis has completed three so far.

How he keeps it off: Thinking. "I'm more conscious of what I eat now," Davis says. Learning to cook helped educate him about food. "Now I understand what goes into a lot of dishes, so if I'm in a restaurant, I know what I'm getting," he says. Davis applies the same mental focus to exercise. "When I work out, I'm mindfully working out."

Weight-loss wisdom: "We are all human beings. Sometimes your weight may fluctuate, but you have to keep that commitment to a healthy lifestyle."

Mark's mantras:

  • It's never too late. "I didn't do my first triathlon until I was 41. For the Escape from Alcatraz, I learned to swim just 2 months before the event. I did it, and I did fine."
  • Kill your television. "All these so-called reality shows-rather than watch them, go out and make some reality of your own."
  • Do it for the kids. "At this point, I want to lead by example. One time, my daughter Sterling sat in my lap, looked up, and said, `Daddy, I want to be an Ironman.'
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