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Dr. Francis Williams

July 2017


​​A busy rheumatologist, Dr. Francis Williams gets up extra early almost every day to squeeze in exercise. When he looked at photos from a recent landmark birthday, Dr. Williams noticed his cheeks looked chubby and decided to do something about it. He started running, biking and using a Bowflex®. Now three years later, he’s dropped 25 pounds and can fit back into his jeans from high school. His motivation: keeping up with his 11-year-old son and keeping the weight off.

What was the big revelation that inspired you to get in shape?
When I hit the “Magic 50,” we had a big party. One of my friends from college stayed with us, and he asked where he could run. I realized I didn’t even know a good place to run. When I looked at the pictures of myself later, I knew it was time to do something.

So what did you do?
I started doing cardio, biking and running. Now, I run or bike five times a week and when I get back to the house I work on the Bowflex machine for 20 minutes.

Why do you exercise in the morning?
I’ve always been a morning person and I get up before 5 a.m.

Was it difficult getting started? 
Definitely. I’ve never been much of a runner, so that was challenging. The first time, I went about half a mile and was already winded. So I started slow, like four to five blocks, and over time I increased the distance.

Have you encountered other challenges?
When I’m traveling, it’s sometimes difficult to keep it up, but everybody takes time off occasionally. At one point, I got plantar fasciitis, but it got better when I got shoe inserts. My knee bothered me a bit at first, but when I lost weight, it stopped hurting. When the mornings are colder than 40 degrees, I really have to force myself. I have a stationary bike, but I don’t enjoy it as much.

What is your favorite exercise?
I like biking because I can go to different places faster. I just put my ear buds in, zone out and relax.

What motivates you? 
I never thought I would be one of those guys who missed exercising, but I do. And a big part of my motivation is worry the weight will come back if I stop. Also, I have an 11-year-old son and I want to be able to do things with him and set a good example. We went on a father-son bike ride recently with our neighbors, which I wouldn’t have been able to do before.

Have you changed your diet?
I’ve always eaten fairly well, but now I’ve cut out carbs. It’s really just moderation and common sense.

What results have you seen?
I’ve lost about 25 pounds over three years and wear the same size jeans I did in high school. I feel better and have more energy.

What advice do you have for others just starting?
Start slowly. If you fall off the wagon, just get back on.

As a doctor, I advise a physical first if you have health problems, are older or haven’t exercised in a while. Even if you have health problems, you can probably find some type of exercise that works for you. For example, if you have joint problems you might try water exercise.

And be sure you have good shoes!