Eldar Bottaev is a 29-year-old trucking company manager from Indiana who dropped more than 11 stone and just completed his first triathlon. Here, he tells Men’s Health how he did it:
I had always been a bigger guy. I just had a lifestyle that lead me there: no exercise, bad diet habits, and bad food choices. I didn’t think of it as anything unique. Over one three-year period, I gained more than 100 pounds (7 stone).
The extra weight took a toll. I had trouble moving, walking, climbing stairs, and sleeping. I’d wake up and feel frustrated, depressed, and lacking in self-confidence. I couldn’t go shopping because I couldn’t fit in any regular clothes. Last year I was 28, and weighed 380 pounds.
Last September my wife and I found out that we were going to become parents. Right then I knew everything had to change.
Over the years I had tried several fad diets. None of them worked. I knew I had to try something new. I had to approach weight management, diet, food, and exercise differently.
So, soon after I found out my wife was pregnant, I went to see a doctor. He did a complete analysis of my body. We checked all of the vitals, organs, and levels—a complete diagnostic examination.
We then sat down and worked out a plan. I had a food regimen I could stick to. For exercise, I walked around my neighbourhood five to ten minutes a day. I wanted to be steady and methodical, focused on my diet, exercise, and well-being. I didn’t try to lose 100 pounds or run a marathon in a week. There’s no magic formula or pill—just slow and steady.
After 90 days, I began to see some results: Most noticeably, my pants were looser. I could walk and jog for 30 to 40 minutes at a time. I stuck to a proper diet for 90 days with no junk food or carbs. In April, I began to go to the gym and I introduced other workouts, such as weight training. I also got a coach for my physical fitness to keep me focused, motivated, and dedicated.
I stayed motivated because I saw results physically and even began to buy smaller clothes; seeing people notice my physical changes kept me going. Every time I saw my wife’s stomach getting bigger, that motivated me even more.
Eventually, a friend who’d done a triathlon challenged me to try one, too. I knew it would be hard, but I wanted to challenge myself—to prove that I could do it.
So I committed to the Life Time Chicago Triathlon on August 28, competing in the sprint category, which is a 0.5 mile swim in Lake Michigan, 15-mile bike ride and 3.1-mile run.
In just less than a year—about 11 months—I’ve lost 160 pounds. And I finished that triathlon in 2:03:59.
Mentally, I feel proud and confident (easy to see on my Instagram account). I'm finding happiness in being fit and active instead of from swallowing giant portions of food. Physically, my everyday life is much easier. I can move, run and play activities with my daughter. I sleep better and have stopped snoring. Now I have a bike, which I don't think I could have had before due to my weight.
Ultimately, there is no silver bullet. It comes down to fundamentals: exercising, discipline, and developing good habits. I believe anyone can succeed when they put their mind to it, and my next step is helping people who’ve had the same problems I’ve had. I want to show them how to take action and make the right choices.
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