Tom Fritz, 33, of Mason, struggled with being overweight for most of his life. A full-time Ph.D. student who works at Michigan State University, Fritz was tired of feeling like he wasn’t in control. He decided to embrace working out, undergo bariatric surgery and train for area races. The result has been incredible: He dropped 150 pounds and is feeling great. This is his story:
What made you feel like you needed a healthy lifestyle change?
I was overweight for most of my life, and I simply hated working out. In the past year, I changed my mindset and now I work out to feel stronger and invest in myself. I finally realized that I just like how I feel after working out, both physically and mentally.
What’s your typical workout like?
I modify my training to prepare for the type of event. I started training for running races and triathlons last year. Regardless, I will be in the gym three times a week for strength training to protect against injury. The weight workouts focus on functional strength for major muscle groups and a lot of core work. Keeping my hips and core strong is important for me to prevent injuries in my endurance sports.
How is your diet?
I had bariatric surgery last year to help with my weight loss, so I tend to eat every few hours and smaller amounts. I focus on lean proteins first, then healthy carbs, mostly from brown rice or sweet potatoes. I also try to have Greek yogurt or cottage cheese every day for high protein with low calories. I eat a lot of eggs for breakfast, snacks, and for dinner, sometimes, too.
Is it hard to stay focused on your diet?
I try to live by the rule that you should never have two bad meals in a row. If I make a less healthy choice, I say to myself, “ok, it does not make you a bad person. Just make a better choice next.” That seems to keep me in check. If something is really tempting me, I will remove the urge by throwing it out, drinking a glass of cold water, or working out.
How has fitness helped you with your lifestyle?
In the past 18 months, I have lost over 150 pounds. Fitness was a major drive in that. My outlook on life has changed because of my fitness. I now look at things and realize anything is possible. I have taken a spin class, I started playing hockey again, I can chase my daughter around the park, and all of that started with my fitness. I am able to be a better father, husband, student, and person when I am regularly working out. It clears my head and I get some of my best thinking done in the early, pre-dawn hours with my feet hitting the pavement.
Any fitness goals?
I will complete my first half marathon in a few weeks, which is a major goal compared to where I was a year ago. Then I will be refocusing over the winter on lifting heavier weight to strengthen my major muscle groups. I would love to be able to bench press and deadlift my body weight. As far as endurance sports go, I would like to run a full marathon and a half ironman (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and a 13.1-mile run). Those will take some time, but it is all about setting and following a training plan.
Any advice to those who are struggling?
You are worth the investment in yourself. Believe that, and do it. Missing a workout or eating too much isn’t the end, but it is a chance to refocus. It took me a long time to realize health and fitness are not all or nothing deals. I used to think I had to be perfect, and that is not the case at all. It is about making the right decision more often than not, so if you are struggling, just make your next decision a good one. A lot of people think having bariatric surgery is the easy way out. I can tell you it is not. It was a tool I used to help me get to the point where I could control my diet and workout like I wanted to. It changed my life and worked for me, but may not be the right choice for you. Find something that is good for you, and make it work. Making the decision to be healthy is the best choice I ever made, and I continue to make it every day.