How Troy Grimes Lost 70 Pounds — and Went On to Complete 31 Marathons
“Weight-Loss Win” is an original Yahoo Health series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Troy Grimes, 51, is 5 feet 11 inches tall and currently weighs 163 pounds. About 10 years ago, he weighed 233 pounds. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.
The turning point
I was an overweight 39-year-old who was trying to find a way to provide a decent living for my family. There was no single event I can point to that changed my life forever. It was just a series of events that, added together, finally made me realize I needed to make some changes.
One incident that stands out involved my youngest son, Eric. My family and I were playing a friendly game of touch football at the local park with some other neighborhood kids. I was fat and way, way out of shape. Eric and I were on the same team, and we drew up a wonderful play. And, amazingly, it actually worked. I found myself wide open, and the quarterback threw a perfect pass to me. I caught the ball, and no one was around me for at least 15 to 20 yards. All I had to do was run about 30 yards to score a touchdown. I ran a few yards and suddenly my legs simply stopped working. Before I knew what was happening, I fell face first on the ground. Then Eric walked over to me (while I was still lying on the ground) and simply said, “Dad, why don’t you play on the other team now and let Uncle Michael play on our team.” I had been traded by my own son!
That moment was a wake-up call for me, but there were other minor events around the same time that pushed me to change too. I read an article that said health problems escalate drastically for people who are over 40 and obese. Then, a few days later, I happened to see this very old, thin man walking across the street. It got me thinking — you seldom see old, obese people.
At 5-foot-11, I had reached my highest weight of 233. I decided that I needed to do something about my weight and my health situation. I became determined to get down to a decent weight before I turned 40 — and at this point, I had only about seven months to go.
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I used the Atkins Nutritional Approach initially to lose weight. Atkins focuses on a healthy diet with reduced levels of refined carbohydrates and sugars and encourages the consumption of lean protein, fiber, vegetables, fruits, and good fats. At this point in my life, I really felt like I had lost control of everything. When I went on Atkins and started seeing the pounds melt away, I had finally found something that, in my mind, I could control. It would be up to me, and only me, to meet my goal — or not.
After a few weeks on the program, I had the energy to start an exercise program. I started running slowly and for very short distances. I continued the low-carb lifestyle and slowly built up my running stamina. About six months later, I met my goal of losing 70 pounds — taking me from 233 pounds down to 163.
I ran my first half-marathon just after my 40th birthday, and shortly after my 41st birthday, I ran a full marathon. I am still accomplishing my athletic goals in the sport of running.
Running helped to change my outlook on life. During one “magical” run in particular, I had a breakthrough. At the beginning of the run, I felt anger about all the things in my life that I had tried to control but could not — I was always too focused on my job and didn’t pay enough attention to my health or family. I was able to release the anger through the running. With my new attitude, I had also come to the decision that I would no longer try to control the things in life I had no control over.
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Now I was a runner. And I was determined to take my running to the next level. But even more important than my sport or job, I finally felt I had become a good role model for my kids by becoming a healthier father. I had finally gotten my priorities in order.
Troy before his weight loss — and after, during a race. (Photos: Troy Grimes)
Before my weight loss, indulging in too much beer was definitely something I was guilty of doing. That is one of the main things I gave up when I adopted my new healthy lifestyle. I went about four years without drinking a beer. I quit cold turkey. Now I’ll occasionally have a drink or two but definitely not daily like I used to. I especially like to “reward” myself with a couple of beers after a marathon or ultra-marathon. And I always try to stick with Michelob Ultra, which I think is the best low-carb beer out there. I like to say I treat myself to an Ultra after an ultra-marathon. I have learned that the key is moderation.
The key for me has been finding the right combination of diet and exercise and finding the foods I should avoid at all costs. Those include bread, pasta, and anything with high fructose corn syrup. I still use the Atkins Nutritional Approach to maintain my weight and train for endurance events. It works great for me.
I have also progressed in my running. Some of the running goals I have accomplished include running 70 miles in one day (19 hours) to match my weight loss of 70 pounds, running back-to-back marathons (26.2 miles each) on a Saturday and Sunday, running back-to-back 50Ks (31 miles each) on a Saturday and Sunday, running 10 marathons in 10 months, and running 47 half-marathons in a calendar year to match my age at the time.
Overall, I have completed 31 marathons (26.2 miles) and 17 ultra-marathons (31 miles and greater). I also wrote an e-book about my journey, titled Endurance 70: Low Carb Marathon.
My No. 1 struggle is finding the time to exercise while working full-time. To overcome this, I stress to myself how important it is. There are always reasons we can’t or don’t devote more time to our training — we are busy with work, kids, school, etc. — and these are valid reasons. But a reason does not have to turn into an excuse. When running becomes important enough to you, you will find a way to bypass these reasons and not let them become excuses.
Control the things in your life you can control, and let go of the rest. Life is all about endurance. Find your goal and then find a way to endure all the roadblocks and obstacles that tend to keep you from reaching that goal. Life is the longest endurance event of them all.
“Weight-Loss Win” is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative 135-pound weight loss of her own. Have a success story to share? We want to hear it. Tell us at YHTrueStories@yahoo.com.
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