BY STEPHANIE NAVARRO (Special to the Morning News)
Stephen Cullen likes to win. Knowing this, Cullen’s wife, Katie, and one of his friends encouraged him to join Florence’s Biggest Loser.
“They both know how competitive I am and thought the competition would be right up my alley,” Cullen said. “But there may have also been ulterior motives.”
Cullen has been ranked between the fourth and 10th positions in the Biggest Loser top 20 for most of the program, though that has not fazed him or kept him from focusing on his ultimate goal.
“I never felt like it [first place] was out of reach, and I’ve never felt comfortable enough to relax,” Cullen said.
To reach his goal, Cullen’s nutrition has not changed much. He eats when he is hungry and makes sure he gets fruits and vegetables every day.
“I came in pretty confident with my nutrition,” Cullen said. “But before there were only a few vegetables I would consider, and while I still don’t like a lot of vegetables, I’m growing more accustomed to a larger variety.”
Cullen recently added asparagus back to his diet.
“I had not actually eaten it in so long that I assumed I didn’t like it,” Cullen said. “After trying it again at a friend’s party, I won’t shy away from it.”
His fitness routine has been altered to stay competitive in the program.
“I started by working out three or four times a week, but now I’m up to four to six times a week,” said Cullen, who varies his fitness routine to keep it interesting.
Being in the program has changed his perception at the gym.
“I was already a member at McLeod (Health & Fitness Center), and I was comfortable doing the machines and cardio, but I never went to the free-weight area,” Cullen said. “Part of the reason was that I had no one to work out with there, but I also didn’t have the experience.
“After my trainer, Mili, introduced me to that area, I have a new comfort level and don’t hesitate going over and work out.”
Cullen says he joined mainly to win, but he has been happy to find that the program has also been helpful and fun.
“The biggest thing the program has promoted for me has been just coming to the gym and committing,” Cullen said. “There has been a level of accountability. I’ll miss the group training sessions.”
Cullen also enjoyed the kayak event.
“I help out at Bicycle World, which is next to Naturally Outdoors, who hosted the event,” Cullen said. “I had fun, and I think a lot of people thought it was a good workout.”
Throughout the competition, Cullen’s idea of winning has evolved slightly.
“Oh, I’m still going to win,” Cullen said. “Even if in the end I haven’t reached my goal, I won’t feel like a failure. I’ve already lost over 50 pounds, and everything I’m doing is fairly well sustainable.”
Cullen said that while he did not join the program to necessarily become healthy, he has his sights on that goal now as well.
“I want to get back to a healthy lifestyle,” he said, “and I want to keep things going after this is over.”
Read the story at SCNOW.com!