Interview with Kris Fulford, Birmingham, Alabama
Q. Where are you from?
A. I was born in Selma, Alabama but now live in Birmingham Alabama with my Wife, Jennifer, and Daughter, Mckinley.
Q. You have a family history of cancer which started you on your weight loss journey, tell us about it in detail.
A. Yes, I have had a pretty long history of cancer in my close family starting with one of my Aunts who passed away when she was young, way before my time. Next was my Grandfather on my Mom's side who passed when I was about 5. There were quite a few years until this horrible disease crept back into my life but next was my Grandmother on my dads side. They did not catch her cancer until it was in a very late stage and she ended up passing away from it. Next not to long after that, and just a few years ago, was my other grandmother, from my Mom's side. She had fought the cancer for years but ultimately she lost the battle in Feb 14 2008. Then Lastly, even though not blood relation, my Step dad had cancer as well and he ended up loosing his battle exactly 1 year to the day from my Grandmother's death on Feb 14 2009. Around the end of the year in 2008 I was really upset with myself and the way I had let myself get out of shape. I had ballooned up to an all time high of 242 pounds at my heaviest, I did not feel good and I had no energy. Knowing the history of cancer as well as other medical problems such as High Cholesterol and High Blood pressure in my family, I decided enough was enough and I got to work Feb 8 2009 to make a better, happier, healthier version of me.
Q. Were you always battling with your weight?
A. No, I was always playing sports from the age of about 5 through High School. Then in college I continued hitting the gym pretty hard, eating pretty much anything I wanted the entire time. After I met my wife in College and started dating her more and getting serious I was not getting to the gym as much, then eventually not at all. After we were married and I would get on a kick and workout for a couple of weeks here and there, but nothing steady. Right after we got married I started a new job and I was sitting at a desk 8 hours a day so after that my activity level was cut by about 75% but my calories were not. So the pounds started piling on. I started dating my wife in 1998 and was 165 pounds, then as I mentioned before in 2009 I was up to 242. Granted I was caring around more muscle, it was not even close to being all muscle that I had gained.
Q. How tough was it to lose all the weight?
A. It was tough making the sacrifices in food choices and getting over that first few weeks was hard. The place where I work was not much of a help either, it is a software company and there is always someone bringing in donuts or it is someones birthday so they would have cake or something like that. So my will power was tested all the time. I will not lie and tell you that I was good all the time, there were many times when I gave in and pigged out. I made myself pay for it in the next workout though!! There were a couple of sayings that really helped me through though. "Nothing tastes as good as being Fit Feels" which is so true and "Do not ask for this to be easy, ask for it to be worth it". I knew that if I paid the price and sacrificed now it would be so worth it in the end and I was right!!
Q. What was the hardest thing to give up while you were shedding the pounds?
A. Being from the south I absolutely Love BBQ, and still do. So backing off from the Ribs, Pulled Pork and other forms of BBQ I love was hard. Not to mention the Pizza, Mexican and so many others that were so good and I have a sweet tooth that does not quit. Luckily I found a Protein Shake that helped with these sweet cravings. My workouts were not that hard to adapt into my life because I have always enjoyed lifting weights so that transition was not that hard. The hard thing for me was incorporating vegetables into my diet. I hated veggies and was always a meat and potatoes kind of guy. After weeks of forcing them down I have grown to like a bunch of them now.
Q. Your journey hit another major bump with the sudden loss of your father. Tell us about it.
A. Yes, In June of this year, I received a phone call from my Step Mom who was crying saying that my dad had had a sudden heart attack and I needed to get down there as fast as possible. My dad was an overweight man who was on medication for High Blood Pressure and High Cholesterol and was a smoker, so I knew that this would be a possibility one day but that is always one of those it will never happen to me kind of things. Well it did happen!! I live about 2 hours from where my dad and Step Mom do and I made it that day in about an hour and a half, and that included stopping for gas. (Sorry Mr Police Man). The emergency personnel and doctors were able to get his heart back beating for a little bit and he fought for a while. I did not make it in time though, by the time I got there it was too late and I did not get to see him alive one more time. Understandable this was very hard for me seeing as he was still young being only 55 years old and it being so sudden. I turned to food to help me through this time but luckily I had been in fit mode for over a year and had made drastic changes in my lifestyle and habits. I did eat things that I know I should not have but I did not eat as much or as many thing as I know I would have before I started on my change. I did gain weight and most of it was fat I know it was not as much as it would have been before I made the change in my life.
Kris and his Father and Daughter
Q. What made you decide that enough was enough to go further with your weight loss goals?
A. Before my Dad Passed I was thinking of doing an adventure race that was down in his area, so that he and the rest of my family could come out and see me race and hopefully inspire them to get out and be more active as well. Well after this happened to my Dad I wanted to make sure and do everything that I could to make sure I was a fit as I could be so that the history of Cancer, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol and now a heart attack would not be something that my wife and little girl would have to worry about. So I decide it is something I would do and I am now entered in that race that takes place on Oct 2. You can enter the race as a team or do it solo, so I decided to enter the race solo and race in the memory and honor of my dad. My wife and I are also running in an 8k Sept 4, it will help with my training for my adventure race but it is also keeping with this goal. One last thing is ever since I was in high school I have wanted that ever so coveted 6 pack. I was never serious enough about my nutrition to have them though. A few weeks after my dad was gone I made a promise to him that I was going to see this through and I was going to get to that 6% Body Fat that I have always wanted then maintain a single digit body fat for the rest of my life. That is one promise that I intend to keep!!!
Q. Did you ever feel like giving up?
A. Seeing as my reasons for getting started was health related and being disgusted with the way I looked, I never really had the desire to quit. Now there were a lot of times when I wanted to eat everything in the house or take on a whole gallon of Ice cream, large pizza or a pound of BBQ all by myself. I kept my goals in mind and stood strong, most of the time any way. :-)
Q. How often do you work out and what does your work out schedule look like?
A. For the first 6 months I followed a 2 day split and repeated it 2X a week. So I would do Chest, Shoulders and Tris On Monday, then Legs, Back and Biceps on Tuesday. Take Wednesday off then Shoulders and Tris again on Thursday and Legs, Back and Biceps again on Friday. Then have the weekend off as well. My exercises were usually 3 sets of 2 exercise super set with 1 minute of cardio (usually on the treadmill) between sets instead of a rest. Then 3 more sets of a single exercise to finish off that body part with the same cardio between sets. The workouts typically lasted 45 - 80 minutes long and always had me dripping with sweat. I started very light with the weights and worked my way up to where I could lift heavy again. I was super proud the last week of my 1st 12 week challenge because I had worked back up to squatting over 300 pounds for my full 3 sets of 8 again, something I had not done since I was 19. I am now following a 5 day split with 1 body part on each day still going with the supersets and cardio between sets instead of rest. Once I hit my goal of 6% I will probably back off the cardio between sets and just do some extra cardio during the week on my bike or running in the great outdoors.
Q. What other fitness related goals did you achieve?
A. After I made up my mind that I was sick and tired of the way I looked and felt and wanted to make a change, I received a notification that a new fitness website called FastTrackToFatloss.com was opening that offered to provide nutrition and workout plans as well as your own personal trainer. So I signed up the day it opened. I started my weight loss journey with the idea of just getting back in shape and loosing weight so my health and energy was better. I was looking for about 20 pounds or so, I lost half of that in the first 2 weeks and ended up loosing 29 pounds in the first 12 week challenge I entered. I did not win that round but was a runner up. So I decided to try again and really work hard and see what I could do. By the end of the 2nd round I was down a total of 50 pounds of fat and had dropped from 27% body fat to just under 10%. This time I was the Co-Winner of the 12 week Challenge with another lady.
I have started running and entering in a few races here and there. I ran in the Camp Pendleton Mud Run in June (Before everything happened with my Dad) with a bunch of friends from the FastTrack site. If we would have changed our team from being an all male team to a coed team (We had a member drop out and a girl joined in with us) we would have taken 3rd in the coed division. That was my first race over a 5k and I only did one 5k before that and that was when I was 18. I have several races planed now, an 8k Sept 4th, an Adventure Race (4 mile trail run, 8 mile Mountain bike, 8 mile Kayak) Oct 2 and I am thinking of doing the Tough Mudder in Atlanta Ga in 2011.
Q. Who has had your back from day one?
A. My Wife and Daughter first and foremost, but my entire family and all of our friends are all very supportive. My little girl, who is 5, would come down in my "Man Room/ Gym" in the basement while I was working out and "Help" me with my workouts. :-) My wife was always very understanding with me getting up at 5am to workout or making my own food when they were having something that was not in my nutrition plan and all the extra sweaty clothes from me working out 4+ times a week some times 2x a day. Not to mention all the times with me chasing her around the house all sweaty from working out and her yelling ewwww trying to get away. She has been great and even would take foods away from me when I was about to eat something bad and tell me that is not on your plan!! Love you Babe!!
Q. How do you educate others to stay fit and healthy?
A. After I finished my first 12 week round I knew I wanted to help others do the same thing, then after I finished the second round, I knew I had to help others feel the way I felt. So I started studying to take my Personal Trainer Certification test. So in March I took my ACE Certified Personal Trainer test and passed. So I now try to help everyone I can both on the FastTrackToFatLoss.com site as well as in everyday life. This started as just a way to get myself in better shape but it has turned into a passion of mine and I am loving every minute of it!!
June Mud Run Finish!
Q. Does your state have an obesity problem? If so, what are the reasons that caused this problem?
A. The CDC did a study on obesity trends a few months ago and Alabama was one of the few states in the country with over 30% of the population being considered obese. I think a lot of it has to do with the abundance of fried foods in the south not to mention all of the other foods that are no good for you. There are cities and suburbs in the state where there are a lot of fitness activities that go on but I would say it is the exception and not the norm unfortunately.
Q. Do you have weekly cheat meals? If so, what do you eat?
A. I do I usually allow myself 1 maybe 2 "Treat" Meals a week. I like to call them treat meals because when I say Cheat meal I feel like I have done something wrong, when in fact it is just the opposite. I am treating myself, within reason, for doing a good job with my nutrition and workouts the rest of the week. I will have a variety of foods on my Treat meals it could be, Mexican, Pizza, BBQ, or a nice desert. I do not limit my foods in my Treat meals, I will however watch the portions and will increase my workout and add a little extra cardio on that day to help take care of the extra calories.
Q. Do you have any advice for our readers out there who think there is no way out?
A. First and foremost there is always a way out, it is never too late!! You just have to make up your mind that there is not anything in this world that is going to keep you from reaching your goal!! No matter what anyone says, what you have read, what you have seen, if you want it, it is yours for the taking. Work hard and take it. All you have to do is get on a Nutrition and Workout Plan and stay on it consistently. You may stumble from time to time, I know I did, but you keep going. Next, forget about the scale, judge your progress by the way your clothes fit, your body measurements and if you have access your Body Fat %. That number on the scale means nothing and can drive you crazy. Besides if you are on the beach with ripped abs would you care what the number on the scale was? I know I will not!!
I will be straight with you it is not always easy but back to my previous quote "Do not ask for this to be easy, ask for it to be worth it" Getting fit, knowing you are healthy for your family and reaching your goals is so very much worth it!!!