DECATUR, Ala. (AP) — Fred Bentford is celebrating a resolution of a lifetime.
In mid-2012, the Decatur resident weighed 344 pounds. His wife, Antoinette, a respiratory therapist, noticed her husband had been skipping breaths in his sleep. He was later diagnosed with sleep apnea, which he described as an awakening for him.
"I would love to see my son walk across the stage and get his diploma, see him get married and have his children," Fred Bentford said. "Longevity motivated me for something that I could control. All I had to do was challenge my focus and do it."
Bentford, a welder and barber, signed up for a membership at Bender's gym and started rigorous workouts for almost three hours a day in mid-2012. Without a personal trainer, Bentford started with two-a-day workouts with a 45-minute cardio workout in the morning and a weight-lifting workout at night for six days a week.
At the start of 2013, he had lost 60 pounds, but wanted more. More than a resolution, Bentford wanted a new lifestyle.
"I went through an intense focus on my nutrition along with a consistent workout regimen. It consumed about an hour and half of training. A very, very detailed diet," Bentford said.
Now, Bentford does 90-minute weight workouts five days a week and cardio on Saturdays.
Tom Bender, owner of Bender's gym, said it was inspiring to watch the evolution of Bentford's progress.
"I think a lot of people will eat healthy and then have one bad meal or miss a week of working out and say, 'Oh, I've messed up my whole diet,' " Bender said. "The reality is they're just one meal or one workout away from getting back on track. That's what I saw with him — persistence."
Before his lifestyle change, Bentford's creatine kinase levels were deficient because of his thyroid gland, which he was told was incurable. Once he changed to proper food and nutrients, he said, it was like the illness disappeared.
Bentford's diet was structured by a nutritionist to fit his body's needs. He ate the proper carbohydrates and proteins based on how his body metabolized them. To date, Bentford has a lost 129 pounds and weighed 214 at his lowest. Currently, Bentford weighs 230 pounds because he has geared his training to gain muscle mass. Now his goal is to maintain what he has accomplished.
Before the lifestyle change, Antoinette said she accepted her husband no matter what size he was. At the beginning, Antoinette said, it was harder for her husband to get started because he weighed more.
"When he decided to make the change, he just started going to the gym. He really enjoyed going to the gym and exercising," Antoinette said. "I was very proud that he was able to stick with it. I was amazed. He wanted to go every day."
Little by little, Antoinette watched her husband's body change. In turn, it changed the way her family cooked and ate.
Part of reaching his goal was the whole family adopting a healthy lifestyle. Antoinette is not the only cook; preparing meals is a family event. Their 11-year-old son Christian likes his turn to cook. Antoinette said it became second nature once they got started.
"We do protein shakes, and we don't give my son a protein powder. He has his own healthy shake with fruit and yogurt, so he gets to be like daddy. He gets to do push-ups and stuff like that with his dad," she said.
Antoinette said they read nutrition labels and are conscious of what they purchase at the grocery store. The family does not fry anything and tweaks recipes. For instance, instead of French fries, they cook sweet potatoes. If they cook spaghetti, they use ground turkey.
"You can make it work for you. We will have Mexican, but use whole wheat flour tortillas, fat-free sour cream and fat-free cheese. We just tweak it so it's not like you're missing out on something," she said.
Throughout his weight-loss journey, Fred Bentford had moments of struggle. If he was not reaching a goal in the time frame he wanted, he would try to figure out what he was doing wrong or try to be more patient. The key was maintaining the pace to get to the goal.
Fred described his weight loss as a total transformation, "mind body and spirit." Not only did he look different, his health problems disappeared.
"I didn't expect to look like some guys say, 'I want to look like that guy in the magazine.' I knew I didn't have an unrealistic view. I had to love the way my body looks and the way I feel," Fred said.
Fred's 2014 New Year's resolution is to extend what he accomplished last year.
"I want to inspire them to keep the focus and maintain a positive mindset in the process and enjoy the journey," he said. "I want to make sure I am not a walking testimony, but a verbal testimony."
Information from: The Decatur Daily, http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/index.shtml