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As a pastor, Ryan Culpepper felt like he was a walking contradiction. He spent his days preaching about the importance of living a full and happy life when he wasn’t happy with himself.
“Being a pastor, I felt hypocritical. I’m supposed to set a positive example for my wife, three daughters and community, yet I was obese. I was not exercising because I was ashamed of how I looked. That’s the thing with obese people, we don’t live life; we live on the sidelines,” Culpepper admits.
Quitting Fad Diets
“I used to drink 10 diet sodas a day and thought that was fine because it’s diet soda.”
And then rock bottom hit. In February 2015, Culpepper tipped the scale at 460 pounds, and was diagnosed with sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which breathing stops and starts throughout the night.
He had tried the Atkins Diet and other weight loss programs in the past, but they only trapped him in a vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting. “I tried the Atkins diet after college and lost 100 pounds after nine months. But the weight quickly came back because I was always looking for the next big meal to eat. I was always left wondering when I could eat like a normal person again,” Culpepper says.
He was tired of restricting certain foods from his diet for a period of time and obsessing over carbs, calories and protein. He just wanted to follow a healthy diet that would help him make good food choices and enjoy delicious, well-balanced meals.
A former college football player, Culpepper was active during his early 20s. But his addiction to diet soda and fast food finally caught up with him and took a toll on his emotional health, too. “I used to drink 10 diet sodas a day and thought that was fine because it’s diet soda,” Culpepper recalls. Little did he know, he was taking gulps of sugar that caused even more cravings for burgers, pizza, tacos, candy chips and ice cream.
“I seriously would eat a large pizza by myself and top it off with some Ben and Jerry’s ice cream while drinking 3 or 4 diet sodas.”
Making Exercise a Priority
Culpepper knew his health would suffer further if he stuck with his old ways, so he finally decided to make a change. He joined Daily Burn in April 2015 with Justin Rubin’s True Beginner program and began working out three to four times per week. As he became stronger and the weight came off, he moved onto other Daily Burn programs, like Cardio Sculpt and DBK (a kettlebell-based routine). Eventually, he was working out as many as six days per week and lost 61 pounds in 90 days.
“When I started the True Beginners program, I couldn’t do a plank. I had to do modifications on top of modifications. But now I can do planks and am following the Daily Burn 365 program on most days,” Culpepper says. By November 2015, the six-foot-seven pastor was down 100 pounds.
And the changes didn’t stop there. He also cleaned up his diet and quit fast foods. Culpepper learned how to prepare healthy homemade meals made with fresh, wholesome foods. His weight loss journey has helped him discover an interest in meal prep and healthy swaps for the fast foods he used to love.
"I used to look to food for happiness."
“I loved salty foods so I replaced chips with one serving of protein chips. I never eat more than one bag a day. They come in one-ounce bags and usually have around 100 calories in a bag. I used to want something sweet to eat after my dinner. Instead of reaching for a piece of pie or ice cream, I will finish up my meal with some fruit,” Culpepper says.
“I used to get a lot of fat and calories from condiments. I replaced mayonnaise with avocados, sour cream with Greek yogurt and thousand island dressing with a low-calorie vinegar base dressing.”
Happiness Is an Inside Job
Since starting Daily Burn, Culpepper enjoys breakfast in the morning (something he never used to do), stopped eating close to bedtime, and created an emergency plan when he’s in a “food crisis” and doesn’t have time to prepare a healthy meal.
Still, Culpepper’s transformation was as much of an inside job as it was an outside one. And there were plenty of obstacles along the way.
“My body was in my brain. I wanted to eat, and I still enjoy eating. I used to look to food for happiness. It was also difficult to exercise when you’re over 400 pounds. Everything hurt, and I felt self-conscious working out at the gym, which is why I loved exercising with Daily Burn.”
Daily Burn helped Culpepper do the workouts on his own time and in the comfort of his own home.
Healthy Is Infectious
In just a little over a year, Culpepper lost 200 pounds and weighs 260 pounds now, but he hopes to lose a little more and get down to 240. Culpepper recently visited his doctor and he was able to cut his air volume in half when he got his sleep apnea tested.
He’s also proud to be paying it forward. Today, he helps his church organize wellness events, where people in the community are encouraged to share their weight loss stories and band together for exercise-related challenges. In a recent church gathering, a woman thanked him for helping her realize that she needed to change her sedentary lifestyle.
“Since I started Daily Burn 365, I’ve challenged the church I pastor to lose 1,000 pounds in 2016 and get healthy. We have lost 450 pounds together since January,” says Culpepper. “If you told me a year ago nearly 1,000 people would show up on a Sunday night to hear me speak on health and fitness, I would have clearly thought that would be impossible.”
To learn more about Daily Burn 365 or to try a free 30-day trial, head to DailyBurn.com/365.
Note to reader: The content in this article relates to the core service offered by Daily Burn. In the interest of editorial disclosure and integrity, the reader should know that this site is owned and operated by Daily Burn. Always talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise or weight loss program. Daily Burn users who worked out for 30 minutes or more at least five times a week for 60 to 90 days reported an average weight loss of about one pound per week. For those seeking to lose weight, keep in mind that extreme weight loss can be harmful to your health if done improperly or too suddenly. Always talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise or weight loss program.