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From Injury to Fat and Back

Today, I am in Tampa.

It has been 7 cities (Vancouver, Victoria, Tofino, Moncton, Tracadie, Chicago, Tampa) in 13 days.

But today is exciting, Mike Westerdal and I are filming the next edition of the Fix My Pain series.

Before I head off to do the filming, here is a great story from Ben Teal on how a small injury led him to two paths.


Rick Kaselj, MS


There are tons of books and websites out there explaining why you’re overweight. But very few of them offer clear, day-by-day, step-by-step foolproof plans. They aren’t offering real solutions. So if you’ve ever tried to lose fat and got sidetracked or frustrated and gave up, it’s not your fault.

I learned this the hard way. And then I fixed it.

From Injury to Fat and Back

Last time Rick gave me the honor of posting here, I told you the story of how I overcame a stress fracture to compete in an adventure race.

Well, this is a different type of story.

Back in September, I ran an obstacle course race. Well, ran is a strong word. I limped an obstacle course race. Because as I barreled over some sort of poorly constructed human version of a beaver dam, I landed funny and as I pushed off to start running, I sprained my big toe.

Now, I’ve experienced turf toe in the past, so I immediately knew what it was. Problem was I was only 1.5 to 2 miles into this 15 mile race. And I am hard headed. So, for the next 13 miles, I plowed ahead.

The next week, the doctor shook her head. “You and you’re feet,” she said. I could only smirk.

“Stay off of it for about 3 to 4 weeks. It will be painful for a while, but you have to give it time to heal.”

I agreed and was on my way.

There was just one problem: me.

As I mentioned above, I am pretty hard headed. Especially when it comes to my own body. So when my toe would feel okay for a few days, I’d head outside to play with my kids, or downstairs to my basement gym to train.

And for about 10 minutes I’d feel awesome. And then suddenly it would feel like someone took a white hot flat-blade screw driver and jammed it into the joint in my toe.

Right back to square one.

I managed to repeat this cycle 3 or 4 times before I just gave up on exercising.

The Cycle Begins Anew

Before I knew what had happened, my weight ballooned. Over the course of 4 months I slathered on 35 pounds.

In January, I sat in a meeting with a peer group. We meet a few times a year to give presentations and get feedback.

One-by-one, everyone talked about their successes and challenges. But as my turn drew closer, I could feel my chest tightening. I was starting to panic.

I fought through it as I talked. And then, one of my close friends looked at me, and asked simply, “What happened, man?”

I told the story of the race and being hard headed and then sitting and eating too much. He just looked back at me. Then he spoke, “I say this with all love. You’ve got to get back in shape.”

Even though I knew he was right, I wanted to crawl under the table and hide.

Getting Out of My Own Way

The problem was not my toe. Yes it was an obstacle that needed to be overcome, but it was not the problem, just the scapegoat. The real problem was twofold. Deep down, in that dark place where the ugly truth is stored, I knew I had gotten fat again and didn’t really believe I could lose it again. You get into a comfortable place of inertia. Inertia can be warm and cuddly and soft.

Secondly (and this part was linked to that deep dark place), my mental approach was all wrong. I embraced the inertia. I opened my arms and welcomed it.

The simple fact was that I stopped taking action. I made decisions that took me farther away from being in shape. They were bad decisions. I stopped exercising willpower and restraint when I stopped working out. And like any muscle, when you don’t use your willpower, it gets weaker.

This incorrect mindset led me down the pathway to not only constantly re-injuring my toe, but to piling on the weight again.

My Challenge and Transformation

After being called out and embarrassed in that meeting, I took it as a challenge. I would use my own program to get back to my fighting weight. I would focus on what works – quick, intense workouts like this one I call the “Fast and Furious 5”.

It’s a Tabata type workout with 5 exercises:

  1. Seal Jacks
  2. Push-Ups
  3. Bodyweight Squats
  4. Mountain Climbers
  5. Full-Body Extensions

You go as hard as you can on each exercise for 20 seconds. Then rest 10 seconds before moving on to the next one. Then repeat this circuit one more time for 5 total minutes.

I’m sure if I wanted to get into it, I could explain why these types of workouts work. How they set off a chain reaction in your body that turns on fat burning. I could probably tell you about why I got fat in the first place because I was crushing foods that drove my insulin through the roof.

But, it’s not a solution. It’s just identifying more problems that over complicate what really needs to be done.

So rather than do that, I pulled out all of my old checklists from years ago when I originally lost over 100 pounds. And I followed this step-by-step, day-by-day plan. And I believe that’s the key to success. A clear, step-by-step plan.

So I took that plan and I systematized it. And then I took it up another level. I integrated all of my mindset, motivation and willpower tricks.

And then all that was left was to follow the path I knew for a fact would lead to success.

How did it turn out? Over the next 90 days, I shed the 35 pounds. That’s 1/3 of a pound per day on average.

There are two paths you can take when you set out to lose fat. You can spend time worrying about this hormone or that. This nutrition plan or the other. Wringing you hands about why you got fat again in the first place. But that just leads down a rabbit hole. It leads to confusion and confusion leads to inaction. The fat loss industry thrives on this confusion and inaction.

Or you could use a proven step-by-step plan and take action.

Guess which one I chose?

If you choose to take action, this is the plan that I used.

Benjamin Teal



This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 at 11:38 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.