Eli Sapharti is no stranger to the taunts that come from cruel children and ignorant adults. Over the years he’s been saddled with nicknames like, “Fat Boy” “Bubble Butt” “Bench Warmer” and more. Now, 105 pounds thinner, Eli boasts a body fat percentage of only 10% and he’s currently training to compete in the Physique Division of a Men’s Bodybuilding Competition in February 2014. We’re guessing he’s earned a few new nicknames that put a smile on his face.
Growing up, Eli remembers always being the kid who got picked last for sports teams, the one who endured teasing, bullying and being stuck in the dreaded friend zone when it came to girls. After a growth spurt in the 9th grade, his body lengthened and lost weight, but the pounds didn’t stay away for long. “I simply enjoyed food,” he explained. “As most over -eaters, I used food as my drug of choice. Horrible eating habits and zero physical activity led me to gain an incredible amount of weight.”
Eli knew he was unhealthy, he was aware his weight had crept up to a dangerous level but that awareness wasn’t enough to spur him into action. “It wasn’t like I didn’t know that I was very overweight and needed to lose weight,” he said. “I mean, I was suffering from high blood pressure, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, severe anxiety and panic disorder. That should have been enough to get me to do something about it, but it didn’t.”
On his way to a business meeting, Eli stopped to purchase a bottle of water at the airport. He remembers the attractive female employee at the kiosk telling him, “You know, you’re very good looking for a big guy.” He knew other men would consider it a compliment but for Eli, it was embarrassing. In his mind he heard, “you’re fat.” During the business trip he thought about the encounter and says that’s when he came up with the, “One Step at a Time,” approach for his personal weight loss.
“At that moment I decided that I would make just two small changes to get a little healthier even if it was the ONLY thing I did for the rest of my life,” he recalls. Thankfully, Eli continued to make small changes. When he saw results, he made another change and then another. In the beginning, he eliminated soda (after previously drinking a 2 litre a day) then made the decision to walk for 15 minutes per day. As time went by, he continued to slowly swap junk food for healthy food and increase his walking time until finally he started jogging, then running.
Like many runners, Eli caught the bug and has now competed in over four half-marathons, five 10Ks and several 5Ks. Then, he was able to make the switch from weight loss, to weight training. “I slowly took up weight training and I am currently training to compete in the physique division on men’s bodybuilding.” It’s important for Eli that people know he lost all the pounds and gained muscle by doing so in a safe and all-natural way. No gimmicks, drugs, steroids or other quick-fixes. Recently, he published a book about his journey and his weight loss method, From Fat Boy to Fit Man.
Eli feels better than he ever has in his life. After being featured in People magazine, he’s thrilled that his message has provided hope and inspiration to others. His biggest piece of advice? “The best advice I can give to anyone struggling to lose weight, is to realize that it’s not about all or nothing. Make small, VERY attainable goals and maintain them until you feel ready, then add something, and so on. I say, habits cannot be broken, they can only be replaced.”