Eric Champ’s weight changed throughout his thirties: he would gain weight, then go on a diet and exercise plan, lose some, and then the cycle would repeat. That all changed when he was 36 years old. Champ, now 40, says that his weight reduction journey began with a “come-to-Jesus” experience. Or, to be more exact, five or six of them.
“I’d tried numerous times previously, and this simply happened to be the one that stuck: I was putting on some new pants,” he adds. “My weight had crept up to the point where I was wearing size 38 pants and needing to have them hemmed to be comfortable. It was becoming pricey between the pants and the modifications for me. And I can’t close them. Oh my goodness, I’m going to be a size 40. And as I glanced up at myself in my closet mirror and saw myself squeezing into these jeans, many of the feelings I’d been hiding for so long came rushing up.”The next day, Champ went to the YMCA and walked a mile on the treadmill. “Even that exhausted me,” he admits, “but I did it, and then I came back the following day.” He returned almost every day for the following year and a half to exercise and be among other people who were also trying to get in shape.
Champ began introducing whole foods into his typical diet of pizza and cookies in terms of nutrition. “My wife has been encouraging me to eat whole meals our whole relationship,” he chuckles. “Now, I believe in addition rather than limitation. Fill yourself on greens, reds, yellows, and the rainbow, and then allow yourself to eat that other thing sometimes.”
Champ was dealing with a chronic alcohol problem at the same time he was making all of these adjustments. “It was a huge issue for me. I’d done Dry January and other 30-day challenges, but I don’t believe limitation works for me.” He remembers attempting a more “transactional” approach, in which he would reward himself for a good exercise with a beer or celebrate reaching his objectives with a drink—but this was not sustainable.
“This should not be for that,” he argues. “You should do it because it’s fantastic. It took me a while to discover this.” His relationship with alcohol started to shift approximately eight months in, with the aid of some treatment. “I understood I wasn’t a bad person, that I didn’t need to drink to survive or to push those sensations away, that I am good enough.”
Champ began his career weighing roughly 250 pounds. He was 189 pounds and 5 percent body fat at his leanest. “I was too skinny for my wife, and she was correct!” he admits. He now maintains a weight of 195 to 200 pounds and a body fat percentage of 10 to 12 percent. He currently operates Champ City, where he leverages his personal experiences to assist people in becoming active and healthy. “I’m your everyman, just a typical parent,” he adds, “and so people connect to my narrative, like ‘this is me.'” And simply by looking at them, I can recognize their challenges or pain places because I’ve been there. And I can tell when they’re doing well because they’re hydrated, sleeping well, and eating well. We often take people on emotional roller coasters.”
When asked what advice he would offer to his younger self or anybody who wants to lose weight and get in shape but doesn’t know where to start, Champ recommends stressing continuous, long-term improvements over quick fixes. That might entail taking tiny steps, particularly if you have a hectic life—but a modest step you can keep taking is preferable to a massive one you’re bound to miss.
“Perhaps two or three A+ exercises per week with a little bit of walking, getting that step count up,” he suggests. “If you can establish that consistency, everything is conceivable.”