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Success Story: Bill Bottcher

Get inspired by this RealAger's amazing transformation.

Name: Bill Bottcher
Age: 58
Former RealAge: 70
Current RealAge: 58
Start weight: 235
Current weight: 152

What was really killing me: At 55 years old, I smoked, was overweight (235 pounds), suffered from sleep apnea, and had high blood pressure (150/100), high cholesterol (250), and type 2 diabetes. My eyesight was declining, and I generally did not feel well.

My wake-up call: Hearing the emergency room doctors say, "With your blood sugar level, we're amazed that you're not in a coma -- or dead!" That was in March 2008, when I was hospitalized with a blood sugar level of 1247 (normal levels are between 70 and 150 milligrams). The hospitalization and subsequent diabetes diagnosis scared me into making major life changes.

What I changed: Everything!

  • I quit smoking.
  • I stopped eating cake, cookies, and fast food.
  • I added fruit, vegetables, whole wheat, and lean protein to my diet.
  • I started exercising daily at the gym, using the elliptical and doing some weight training (if I don't make it to the gym, I walk for an hour).

(Need help quitting? Ask your doctor how to stop smoking with this free Doctor Visit Guide.)

How my life has changed: Since taking control of my health, I've lost weight and conquered my sleep apnea, so I no longer need to use a machine while I sleep. I've been taken off of my blood pressure medication and am almost free of my cholesterol medication. My eyesight has greatly improved because my diabetes is under control, and I've been taken off all insulin.

What keeps me motivated and on track: My grandchild. I want to be around for a while and watch him grow up.

What I really love about the new me: People usually think I am younger than I am. I am 152 pounds and have abs and the whole bit. Don't have a gray hair in my head!

Read Bill's answers to questions from our Facebook followers:

Q: I know you added fruits and vegetables to your diet in place of desserts, but what were your tricks to adapt? I find that changing my palate for healthier foods is my toughest battle in weight loss.
-- Aimee

A: I was so determined to get in shape, I really did not let the cravings touch my desire to get healthy. So, although it sounds like my cravings for sweets were not quite as strong as yours, I would remind you that it really does take a lot of focus to be successful. Just like quitting smoking, you have to really want it.

Nowadays, I allow myself healthy treats when I feel like having a snack. I'll reach for a handful of whole-wheat crackers, peanuts, or dried fruit. I've also found there are healthy versions for lots of desserts, like having a Fig Newton instead of an Oreo. You might just have let yourself acquire a taste for the foods that make you feel good after you eat them by really concentrating on the payoffs. (Search the Fuel for Fitness recipe collection to find a healthier way to make the dishes you love.)

Q: Was it difficult to quit smoking AND lose weight at the same time? Did the cigarette withdrawal give you the munchies? How did you fight them?
-- Anonymous

A: My hospitalization was actually part of what helped me quit. Not just in terms of being scared into getting in shape, but also, by the time I got home from the hospital and started to feel good, it was about 2 months since my last smoke, and I thought, "There is no way I'm going back!" So I guess I was lucky in that regard. But I do see huge similarities between losing weight and quitting smoking, because in order to be successful at either, you have to set your mind to it. It requires a strong desire and a lot of concentration. You can do it, but you have to really really want it first. (Want to quit smoking or help someone you love quit? Use this guide to help enlist a doctor's help.)

Q: Are you having any difficulty keeping the weight off? And now that you are down to an amazing weight, what exercises are you doing to maintain your weight?
-- Katherine

A: Good question! So far I have not had trouble keeping the weight off. In fact, I have even lost weight since that "after" photo was taken! Now I go to the gym about 4 days a week, and I really try to get outside for an hour walk on the other days. 

In the beginning, I did mostly aerobic exercise to lose the weight. The hospitalization really scared me, so I started exercising my brains out, almost 7 days a week. I'm not really a treadmill guy, so most of my work was on the elliptical. And I really went after it. One time I was on there for 2 hours while I watched the Olympics!

Then I learned about the benefits of weight training, so I started to add it by using all the machines they have at my gym. To maintain my current weight, I would say I do about an hour to an hour and a half of aerobic exercise if I'm not lifting weights. If it's a weight day for me, I'll spend 45 minutes on cardio in addition to spending time on the weight machines.

Quit Smoking

Quit Smoking

Smoking tobacco products can lead to severe health problems and even death. While quitting smoking can be very difficult for some smokers, there are smoking cessation programs and medications that can help smokers quit. There are ...

many lifelong benefits of doing so, like increased lung function and decreased risk of heart disease and cancer. Understanding the importance of quitting smoking and all options available to help stop smoking is key to long-term success.
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