Health

Amazing Fitness Transformation of Scott Santarlas

How One Man Went From 477 Pounds to Become a Certified Master Personal Trainer

Growing up, Scott Santarlas was always labeled “the fat kid” and he went on to struggle with his weight well into adulthood. Hailing from the Delaware County, Pennsylvania area, the 42-year-old husband and father of three says he fell into bad eating habits early on in life, leaning into cheap and easy options like fast food and cereal—sometimes three to four bowls at a time. But as Scott got older and entered the workforce as an IT Specialist, he often found himself needing to travel from site to site throughout the day. This constant, on-the-go schedule made it easy to skip meals and then indulge in fast food on a regular basis. He says there were many days where he’d grab two sausage, egg, and cheese bagels for breakfast, skip lunch because he was so busy, and then pick up a post-work, pre-dinner meal before he even got home.

“I would then eat another two plates of food for dinner with my family,” Scott admits. “It was this that caused me to gain weight at a rapid pace to reach my heaviest weight.”

RELATED: How the Right Cycle of Food and Fitness Led One Man to a 200+ Pound Loss

As Scott approached his heaviest weight of 477 pounds, it started to become very apparent that his weight was compromising his ability to walk, or even just stand for extended periods, and he avoided certain situations that ultimately caused him to miss out on quality time with his family. He points to two stand-out moments in his life that made him realize that he really needed to make serious strides toward a healthier lifestyle than the one he was living. The first came when he was attending his eldest son’s football game. The bleachers were just too far away for him to manage at that time, so he had to watch the game from his car instead. He notes feeling completely defeated—not just in his physical ability, but even more so for letting his son down.

The second moment that had a major impact on Scott’s decision to lose weight came when his family went on a trip to Disney World. Shortly after arriving at the park, he found that he couldn’t walk more than 100 feet without having to rest and catch his breath.

“In order to enjoy the vacation, I had to rent a scooter at the age of 35 to make it through the parks,” Scott admits. “To me, this was a real sign of how unhealthy and unhappy I was.”

When his family returned from that trip to Disney, Scott immediately made an appointment with his family doctor to come up with a plan to lose at least 100 pounds. This would become the first of many goals he would conquer over the next few years, but even then, Scott knew he had a lot of work ahead of him.

Scott then met with a dietician who provided him with a specialized eating plan. He followed it for six months, but was only able to lose 15 pounds which left him feeling frustrated and on his way back to his family doctor. So, in 2014, Scott decided to have gastric sleeve surgery, an operation where three quarters of the stomach is removed so that the patient will feel a sense of fullness after eating much smaller portions of food. The permanent procedure is a drastic step for many, but it can also be the best choice for a person’s health, particularly those with a BMI over 40.

Scott initially experienced a great amount of success after his surgery—a loss of 130 pounds—but he did eventually hit a plateau. And, as he was struggling to get past the 350-pound mark, he also began to notice some other less-than-desirable effects of his new way of eating.

“During my first year after surgery, I was drinking two generic nutrition drinks and eating a well-balanced meal every day,” Scott says. “At first this worked great, but I started to notice I was becoming more tired and having less energy, and I started to lose my hair and my skin took on a gray pallor.”

Scott’s wife, Kristy, was understandably concerned and did some research to see what might be going on. They ultimately realized that Scott wasn’t getting enough protein or vitamins in his diet, so he switched up his nutrition plan to include two healthy, protein-packed smoothies, a snack, a Saladworks salad or wrap, and a well-balanced meal.

Scott’s nutrition issues aren’t incredibly uncommon in gastric sleeve patients, and they do highlight the fact that, although gastric sleeve can help a person to drop a lot of weight initially, it still takes a lot of hard work to continue toward one’s goal weight, eat the proper foods, and actually increase one’s fitness level as well. After all, no surgery can keep you consistent; that has to come from within yourself. Fortunately, Scott recognized this and was more than up for the challenge.

And, as it turns out, Scott’s daily salad became a major game changer going forward! Of course salads and smoothies aren’t exactly revolutionary ideas when it comes to healthier eating, but he says that Saladworks’ “Create Your Own” salads, in particular, really give him the ability to build a healthy, cost-effective, and fast meal with the right mix of protein, carbs, and fat to properly fuel his body. (And without worrying about where the ingredients come from, or having to buy and assemble it all himself.) He says his go-to salad is spring mix, spinach, cranberries, pecans, grilled chicken, and breaded chicken with raspberry vinaigrette dressing. And, when he needs to curb his sweet cravings and boost his protein intake, an Elvis smoothie with banana caramel, peanut butter, and vanilla protein can’t be beat.

Scott also began going to his local gym five days per week, and would do 45 minutes of cycling and another 15 minutes on the treadmill. He was losing weight, but the results were slow and he became bored with just sticking to the machines. He wanted to explore other options, but was also afraid that his body couldn’t handle more. He eventually pushed himself past that fear and tried CrossFit. Though he quickly realized that wasn’t the route for him, he had emerged from his comfort zone and took on a body transformation challenge with the encouragement of his mentor and trainer, Erica. He went on to take third place in the competition, sparking a newfound passion for fitness as he realized what his body was capable of accomplishing, and how great it felt to push himself toward higher levels of fitness. After switching up his eating plan and super-powering his workout routine, Scott was able to lose another 75 pounds and began to build lean muscle as well.

“There were many times I felt like giving up because I was tired from work and didn’t feel like working out. There were many times I wanted to stop at a fast food place because it was cheap and easy,” he admits. “I had to keep reminding myself of my ‘why.’ It was not easy but it is so worth it.”

Ultimately, Scott lost over 250 pounds and has kept the weight off for over three years and counting. Today, he weighs 215 pounds, thanks in part to a daily schedule that starts with a 5 a.m. workout to gain muscle and tone up. He also used his “Quarantine 2020” time to become a full-time fitness instructor and Certified Master Trainer with ISSA so that he can take all that he’s learned over the course of his healthy lifestyle transformation and pay it forward to others.

“The reason why I decided to become a trainer is because there are many people like me in the world that just don’t know where to start, feel uncomfortable working out in public places or by themselves, or working out to a video,” Scott says. “My goal is to help however many people I can reach their goals no matter what their circumstances are.”

All of Scott’s success does not come without some challenges, though. The cravings for unhealthy food never really go away, he says, but now he knows how to be mindful of what he feeds his body so that he can avoid reverting to bad habits and, more importantly, fuel it properly to conquer his active lifestyle. His most difficult hurdle, however, is a common occurrence after weight loss surgery, but it is not one that can be remedied with healthy habits.

“The biggest challenge I have to deal with is the amount of loose skin I have from losing over 250 pounds,” he says. “No matter how much physical work or nutrition I follow, the skin will never pull itself in without surgery.”

Scott doesn’t let this discourage him from reaching his goals, however. He’s actively working on gaining muscle to keep himself strong and healthy from the inside out, and he still looks forward to enjoying his favorite Saladworks salad as a healthy way to refuel after his workouts.

As for others on their own weight loss journeys, Scott suggests jumping right in rather than waiting until you feel “ready,” and reaching out to someone else who has had the success you hope to find for yourself. Asking them questions and gaining their insight can help you immensely on your own path. He also recommends experimenting with different workouts to find the ones that you truly enjoy, as that will motivate you to keep on doing them. But most of all, he encourages you to find your reason why you want to get healthier and become more fit.

“There will be days you don’t want to do anything; those are the days you need to push yourself and remind yourself why you started,” Scott says. “Once you know your ‘why,’ put it as a screensaver on your phone to remind you every day.”

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Due Credit: Askmen.com

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