Mark woke up one morning and made the decision to change his life. Then he actually did change his life. What I love about his story is that he was inspired by someone who changed her life, and now he pays that forward by inspiring others. We can wait for our doctors, the healthcare system, the government, the schools, and/or the food industry to help us build healthier lives and communities, but who knows if that help is even coming. What Mark reminds us is the power we have to help each other.
Name: Mark “The Beast” Rucker
All time high weight: I say 365 but I stopped weighing at that point.
Current weight: 265
Total weight loss: 100
When did you begin your weight loss journey? February 2011
How was it that you decided to lose the weight? Was there a defining moment, a turning point, an A-HA moment? There was an “A-ha” moment. I had a friend from high school who had lost 240 pounds through diet and exercise and her inspiration and encouragement, coupled with my desire to get fit, created my “A-ha” moment the day after the Super Bowl in February 2011. I woke up the morning after the game and got sick because I had eaten so much bad food while watching the game. I knew it was time to change.
What were your reasons for wanting to lose weight? I had been diagnosed with sleep apnea and high blood pressure. I also think that I was borderline diabetic but I was too afraid to go to the doctor to find out. I wanted to be healthy for my wife and kids.
How long have you kept it off? I’m actually still losing. I am about 50 pounds from my goal weight right now.
How did you lose the weight? Tell us about your diet and exercise regimen. It was through diet and exercise. The first thing that I did was to cut out sugary soft drinks. I was drinking 3-4 a day and switched to diet soda. After a month of drinking diet soda, I quit altogether. I also quit eating processed foods like white breads and rice. I incorporated whole foods like fruits and veggies as well as healthy proteins. I started walking to get exercise. After I lost about 30 pounds I started learning to run by using the Couch 2 5K app on my iPhone. Now I alternate running and cycling as my primary workouts and I still walk almost daily at work on my lunch break.
Who was the most influential person/people to you during the process of losing weight? The person who affected, motivated, inspired, and supported you the most? I would have to say that my friend, Anita Mills, was the person who truly inspired me to start and who still inspires me today. She has lost over 240 pounds through diet and exercise only. She has appeared on the Rachel Ray Show, the Today Show with Joy Bauer’s “Joy Fit Club”, CNN.com, and Women’s World Magazine. She is inspiring so many people to get fit and I feel so blessed to be able to now inspire others like she did for me. Click here to read Anita’s story.
It’s easy to let your diet drift or slowly stop exercising. What do you find to be the key to STICKING TO IT? I have lost weight in the past but I always gained it back. In the past I would try to change everything all at once and although I would be successful for a few weeks, I would usually quit after 3-4 weeks. I would always gain back any weight that I lost and usually would gain back a little more. This time I started with small changes to my diet. After I did one week of changes, I made some more in the second week. Each week I would make more small changes. That way I wasn’t “shocking” my body. And I waited to start exercising. I really wanted to work on my eating first and then once I felt like I had that under control, I incorporated the walking. Then after a month of walking I started with the running and cycling. I also made my journey quite public. I post almost all of my workouts to Twitter and Facebook. I feel like that keeps me accountable. I also feel a sense of obligation now to the people who I’ve inspired to continue on my journey. I also track my calories now which really made a huge difference for me when I hit my first big plateau in July. For me, small changes have led to some HUGE overall changes.
Just starting off, losing weight is hard. Tell us, did it get easier or harder for you over time? I think it got easier after my body adjusted. But I have hit plateaus on the journey where I thought I’d never lose any more weight. Right now I would say that I am in a “valley”. I just ran my first half marathon on Oct. 23rd so I think I’m in a little bit of a “post race depression”. The good thing is that I recognize that and I’m able to monitor and control my eating so I don’t go overboard. In the past I was such an emotional eater and periods like this would have been open season on any and all food within eating distance.
What is the hardest part for you now? I think right now with the days getting shorter and colder weather moving in, it is hard to be consistent on my exercising. I have done all of my training outside since I started and now with the cold weather and short days, it’s hard to get the miles in like I did in the summer. I am seriously considering joining a gym at this point just so I won’t be able to make any excuses about the weather.
If you could tell your former self anything, knowing what you know now, what would you say? Please don’t come back.
Do you worry about gaining weight back? How do you prevent yourself from gaining it back? I do worry about it. But since my journey has been so different than any other time in the past, I really believe that I will keep it off. Also by working to encourage and inspire others, I really feel accountable to others to continue my journey and to stay fit.
What is different (if anything) about your life and health now that you have lost the weight? I can do things that I couldn’t do before. A few years ago, my wife and I went on vacation with my kids. We went to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and Dollywood. My daughter, who was 10 at the time, wanted to ride the rollercoasters. I was too big to fit in the cars. I was so embarrassed. I promised her that I would lose weight and that we would ride them. This past summer I was able to fit. It was awesome. I mean I know that my blood pressure is good now and that I am so much healthier, but little things like the rollercoasters are when I really feel awesome about this journey. Next year I’ll be thin enough for the ziplines, bungee jump, and space ball, I can’t wait. I have also found that my confidence has come back. I’ve also noticed that as I’ve achieved certain goals like running a 5K, a 10K, a half marathon, and losing 100 pounds my confidence level increases and that confidence had permeated every aspect of my life. That has been incredible. It’s just good to finally feel good about who I am.
If we want to follow you, where do we find you? I have a blog at www.bestirthebeast.blogspot.com I also have a fan page on Facebook as Mark The Beast Rucker.
Thanks for an inspiring story Mark!
Mark is an attorney and lives with his wife Annita, and two teenage children, Mason and Abby, in Lexington, KY.
Read about other REAL LIFE biggest losers in my FUdiet series: http://www.fudiet.com/real-life-biggest-loser-series/Share on Facebook