At the age of 22, Ben Davis weighed over 360 pounds. Depressed, addicted to food and morbidly obese, he eventually decided to take control of his life and get healthier. In his new book, "Do Life," Ben tells the story of how he went from 360 pounds to 120 and how you too can transform your life.
I’m asked quite often what keeps me going. What keeps me running, what makes me want to eat healthy foods, what makes me want to run five, ten, sometimes twenty miles? Why would I want to put myself through that, for lack of a better word, agony? The simple answer is that it’s worth it. I made a decision four years ago to get a grip on my life. To take control. I called it “doing life.” But what did that mean?
I certainly didn’t always know the answer. For the vast majority of my life, I suffered from a crippling food addiction that led me into a downward spiral of depression, overeating, self-hatred, and eventually morbid obesity. It left me feeling lonely, empty, and sad, and I slowly began to isolate myself so that nobody would see what I had become. My relationships suffered. My girlfriend left me. I hid from and lied to the few friends I had left. Bust mostly, I lied to myself. It hurt too much to face the truth, and I settled into a sense of despair as my entire life disintegrated along with my health.
I was lucky. There were still people who loved me enough to shake me out of my stubborn denial and insistence that everything was “fine.” When forced to face the hard truth, I decided to try a different way of life, something new and tentative and scary. Little by little, I realized that life didn’t have to be this way, and that it certainly wasn’t meant to be. I reached out to others and gradually reconnected. I stumbled at first, kept working at it, found my stride, and then I ran with it. And I ran as far as I could.
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In less than two years, I went from weighing over 350 pounds and living a depressed, lonely, and completely sedentary lifestyle to officially becoming an Ironman, and I did it with my brother and father beside me. Now I am 130 pounds lighter and happier than I’ve ever been in my life. In those two years, I took action, jumped into a new lifestyle, and as a result I broke out of the depressed cycles of thoughts and actions that had been holding me back for years.
At first, Doing Life meant going public, allowing others in, and sharing my journey with the people who loved me. I never imagined how public that journey would ultimately become. Now Doing Life means living it to the fullest — getting off the couch and out of your head, finding something that inspires you, something that makes you smile, and something that helps you share that smile with the rest of the world.
Today, I spend my time traveling around the country, running with people I’ve never met before, hearing their stories, and speaking to groups about how I made such a big change in my life. Since deciding to Do Life, I’ve gone from barely going through the motions in solitude to living a full life out in the open — a life that I never could have imagined. I never knew that a life like this was out there waiting for me all along. And it’s right there waiting for you, too.
This book is about running, sure, but it’s also about life. It’s the story of how I learned to do life when I fell in love with running. I hope it inspires you to run, whether it’s just for fun, to lose weight, or to completely change your life. The chapters represent steps in a journey —mine, and possibly yours, too — out of the darkness and into the light, from barely slogging by to pushing yourself to the limits in all aspects of life. I found that light by running, and maybe you will, too. But running is a metaphor for life itself, and the lessons in this book will broadly apply. Maybe you’re already running, and you want to run farther, or better. I’ll teach you how to do that, too. There is no mystery, no secret ingredient that will take you from where you are today to the life you most want to live. All you need is a little bit of inspiration and the belief that it’s possible. I hope that is exactly what I can give you.
I’ll start at the beginning, in my darkest moments before deciding to turn my life around, and lead you through each step of the way, from facing the truth to jumping in, taking the occasional step backward, and pushing myself to the limit. This is my story, and yours may be completely different. Some of you will relate to the highs and the lows, and others of you have never been nearly that low. Either way, I’ll do my best to help you write your own story as I tell you mine.
The Do Life movement is characterized by openness, accountability, and community. In that spirit, each chapter includes inspiring stories from my readers, as well as my answers to some of my most common reader questions. I’m also including tips, terms, and running guides for each type of race that I’ve covered, as well as a Running Glossary at the end of the book.
You now have everything that you need to take this moment, grab life, and get going. So, what are you waiting for? The rest of your life starts now. Let’s do it.
For more information on Ben Davis' Do Life movement, click here.
Excerpted from Do Life by Ben Davis. Copyright 2013 by Ben Davis.
© 2012 MSNBC Interactive