Desmond Smith recommends making your goals known to your supporters so they can help you stay honest. When he moved to Houston after college seven years ago, Desmond found his weight inching toward 200, where he had promised himself he’d never go. He started running several times a week, entering events to push himself and working with a personal trainer. He admits it isn’t always easy, but he feels better after exercise. His next challenge? A triathalon.
How does your job influence your health choices?
I’m an exercise physiologist in the Cardiology lab. I do a lot of stress tests and see a lot of people with health problems.
You’ve been into sports your whole life. What went wrong?
In college, I got busy and let my weight get out of hand. After school, I moved back to Houston with its wide array of delicious food. And I do like to eat! Especially things that are bad for me, like cakes, cookies and fried food.
What was your wake-up call?
I saw myself getting close to 200 pounds, and I always said I wouldn’t go there.
What did you do about it?
I started to work out, and I started running again and playing sports. I’m goal-oriented, so I found races and events to train for. I got a big sense of accomplishment when they were complete.
What’s your routine now?
I run two or three times a week and work with a personal trainer three times a week. I do a lot of different exercises, such as weighted movement, strength training, high-intensity intervals, kettle ball swings, sled pushes and rowing machines. I also swim and bike, and I’m on a Sunday soccer team.
How do you squeeze it all in?
I wake up around 5 or 5:30 a.m. and try to run before I go to work. In the evening, I go to the trainer, swim at the gym or run if I didn’t in the morning.
How many steps do you get a day?
At work, it’s 8,000 to 9,000 and if I run it’s about 15,000 to 17,000. I have a Garmin that tells me if I’m not getting in enough steps.
Have you changed your diet?
I try to eliminate fried foods, sweets and fast food, and I don’t eat much beef anymore. I definitely eat more greens, fruits, poultry and fish. I like to cook, so it’s fun to experiment.
What’s a typical day diet-wise?
Breakfast is bananas or fruit, oatmeal, maybe egg whites, yogurt – something to fill me up, but light. It’s difficult at work because there are so many restaurants downtown, but I usually have baked chicken, veggies and rice. Dinner is a real light meal.
Have you seen results?
My weight fluctuates between 175 and 180 and my body fat is lower. My pants fit better, and I have more energy and endurance. I’d like to keep getting even healthier, and maybe run a triathlon in the near future.
What if someone tells you they can’t exercise?
There are lots of ways to be active. It’s just about getting out there and doing it. Start small, and make every day a chance to get better.
Any advice to make goals reality?
First, find a support system, maybe friends or family. I suggest setting a goal and a time to finish it. Then make it known: Tell your support system. If they see you slacking, they’ll let you know.