By Jimese Orange
When death nearly took him, Paul West made drastic changes in his lifestyle to lose the 200 pounds that were debilitating his body with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He lost the weight naturally over a year, conquered his emotional overeating and found his calling. Now, he celebrates seven years of keeping the weight off and helping others as a certified personal trainer, nutritionist and behavioral change specialist. Today, he is the embodiment of health, inspiration, strength and holistic wellness.
Answers have been edited for brevity.
Pride: What inspired you to get fit and healthy from the inside out?
West: I lost close family members who suffered with diseases that I, too, suffered with. Hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. My uncle buried three of his daughters within a year of each other. The youngest of the three was only 42. Also, I began to suffer chest pains during this time and realized I had to change. Inconvenience was also an issue. I hated having to quickly scan any room I entered to see if I could find a chair without arms, a steel chair and/or sit at tables instead of booths. I hated being out of breath during simple conversations, or gasping for air after only walking a block or up a stairwell.
Pride: What are some common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight?
West: Many people make the mistake of doing too much resistance training and not enough cardio, or too much cardio and not enough resistance. It’s all about balance. Men tend to focus on the weights, but the scale goes up because you’re gaining muscle. Focus on more repetitions and more sets for weight loss. Don’t rely solely on the scale;, take your measurements to see inches lost. Weigh in a minimum of once a week, but I also encourage twice a week initially. If you weigh in on a Friday and also on Monday, you know the progress you made throughout the week and you know what you’ve done over the weekend. You also know if you need to make adjustments at the beginning of each week.
Pride: What have you learned from your journey?
West: My health is my most important asset. Without my health, how can I enjoy my family, become a good parent, be a good employee, be a strong leader, and enjoy the success that comes along with hard work? I learned that this is a lifestyle, and not a quick fix or fad diet. I’ve learned to appreciate the little things and to celebrate the small victories and milestones along the way. That was huge in my success. Whether those milestones were inches lost in my pants or being able to sit in a chair comfortably.
Pride: Share key elements of your eating and fitness regimens that can help others implement healthy lifestyle changes.
West: Commitment —You must stick to commitments you make to yourself. We make so many commitments to other people and we stick to them, but we often don’t stick to the commitments we make to ourselves.
Consistency — You have to be consistent with the little things.
Cardio — Commit to a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio four to five days per week.
Core — Commit to core training two to three days per week.
The P’s: Planning, Preparation, Proper Nutrition — You must plan to be successful. That entails planning and preparing your meals with proper nutrition in advance and planning to exercise.
Resistance Training — You should commit to a minimum of three to four days of resistance training.
Rest and Relaxation — We should aim for eight-10 hours per day. In order for your body to successfully lose weight and maintain weight loss, you have to get your rest.
One of West’s greatest accomplishments is helping his mother lose 60 pounds at nearly 70 years old. “She’s three years into keeping the weight off and reversed her hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol,” he said proudly with a big grin on his face. He provides personal training at clients homes and at gyms of their choice. He also leads health and wellness programs at a few local churches and is opening a studio this year. For more information contact West at 704-705-9511.
Genna: Put in a box
West’s Healthful Tips
- Eat healthy before you go shopping.
- Always read labels and be mindful of serving sizes, sodium, sugar, fat and caloric content, as well as processed and artificial ingredients.
- Plan to have healthy snacks on hand.
- If you buy in bulk, separate into single servings in advance. Even healthy foods can be unhealthy if eaten in abundance.
- Cook or prepare foods at home.
- When you are going out to eat, view the restaurant’s menu in advance.
- Plan “cheat days” and stick to them.
- Don’t cheat over an entire weekend and never choose back-to-back “cheat days.”
- Avoid simple carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, white potatoes and sugar AND stay away from buffets.