"Being healthy isn’t something you should be proud of, it should just be something you strive for."
Who: Ben Pobjoy
Occupation: Creative director
By The Numbers: 248.8 pounds at my heaviest, currently 151.2 pounds, for a total weight loss of 97.6 pounds.
The Weight Gain: I was thin as a young child, but got pudgy closer to the age of 10 when I started to spend less time outside and more time playing video games. I shed my cherub look through a growth spurt associated with puberty in my early teens, and was fit and active in my mid-to-late teens as a competitive cross-country runner in high school, supplemented by working labour jobs each summer.
I started to gain weight in my early 20s, specifically in the latter half of university, mostly because I hated my university experience and was depressive (and ate for comfort). Upon graduation, I dove into work and was successful sitting at a computer by day and being indulgent by night. Fast forward a decade later, and I was looking like a white Rick Ross and nothing like my teen self.
Final Straw: In 2014, I was relocated to Toronto to start a new job with a marketing company called Behaviour. Within about eight seconds of starting that job, I realized I was the ‘unhealthy guy’ in the office — crushing tons of cola daily, always eating take out in the office, etc. But, I was gobsmacked by how healthy my colleagues were: runners, gym rats, clean eaters, etc. At first I thought they were all boring nerds, but the millennials I worked with were crazily disciplined and health-minded. It ended up being really inspiring, and being surrounded by it affected me.
A lot of things converged all at once; a new job, meeting new clients and having to make a lot of first impressions, living in a new city and it being a new year (2015). But I heard biomechanist Katy Bowman on Joe Rogan’s podcast and it was a game changer. Her eloquent argument for the importance of movement struck a chord with me, and inspired me to start moving.
The Plan of Attack: Initially, it was just by integrating a bit of movement into my life. First, it was an hour of walking each day (30-minute walk to work, then a 30-minute walk home), and when I began to move more, I began to eat better. With more energy from nutritious, whole, plant-based food, I then began to walk in the evenings and would ‘pool’ errands for big weekend walks.
Then things snowballed in a good way. As I got more fit and more curious about what I could physically do, I started swimming a couple of times a week, and within a few months, I was swimming five days a week; 2 km each one hour session and a 4 km non-stop endurance swim on Saturdays during a two-hour session. Before I knew it, I was walking 100km to 120km a week, then back in the gym boxing.
I lost almost 100 pounds in nine months. Beyond eating well and moving, I was using apps to track what I ate and the distances I walked. I watched my diet get cleaner and my distances increase, and analyzing that data gave me proof that my inputs were affecting my output in a positive way.
Furthermore, I’d snap a shirtless photo of myself each month (which was worrying at the start), and when I compared the monthly photos, I couldn’t believe the progress.
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The Exercise Factor: Originally, I was just walking everywhere. It’s free, easy and you can do it any time of the day. But as I began to drop weight, I wanted to get leaner, so I joined a public pool and began swimming. It was really affordable — like $2 a session — and I cannot express how transformative swimming was: it really helped me shed weight and build definition, and (like walking), it was light on the body.
I later joined a boxing gym (there three to five nights a week), but this was a reward. I love boxing, so I made myself earn being back in a boxing gym because I refused to step back into a boxing gym without first being in decent shape to properly train.
The founder and president of my company was a HUGE champion of my health pursuit, and generously gifted me sessions with a professional striking coach and trainer named Jorge Blanco when he felt I was deserving of it. Blanco has been incredible and taught me about fitness, movement, breathing techniques and proper boxing techniques.
These days I walk every day, and walk about 100 to 120 km a week. I box no less than four times a week. When I have aches and pains or problems reaching goals, I hit a sensory deprivation tank to soak in the 900 pounds of Epsom salt-infused water and visualize the achievement of my goals.