From 400 Pounds to Endurance Athlete

After my daughter was born in 2006.  Around 400 lbs.

After my daughter was born in 2006. Around 400 lbs.

Blair Maury has battled weight issues ever since he can remember.

He weighed 250 as a high school freshman and topped off over 400 pounds at age 35.

But he put together a multi-faceted plan to not only lose weight but to become more physically active.

See what he looks like now!

From 400 Pounds to Endurance Athlete

Even in his early running days, he never imagined a marathon would be possible. But when he crossed the finish line at his first marathon, tears were streaming down his face. Not only did Maury become a marathon runner, but he also shed “a lifetime of shame and awkwardness.”

It was quite a moment for someone who for years couldn’t even run a mile. “I kept thinking how awful it felt to be the fattest kid in gym class and the last one to finish every time we’d run,” recalls Maury, of Virginia.

Blair Maury before and after

Blair Maury before and after

Starting out slowly

Complicating his weight gain as an adult was a car accident in 1997 that seriously messed up his knee. “After surgery I gained about 60 pounds from inactivity,” he says. “That took a bad weight problem and made it worse. And the bad knee made me not want to exercise. And the lack of exercise and weight made the knee worse. It’s a vicious cycle.”

Now, thanks to running and gastric bypass surgery, Maury has lost 200 pounds. And he has kept the weight off for eight years and counting.

After his gastric bypass in November 2007, he started running a week after surgery. “And by ‘running,’ I mean getting on the treadmill and trying to go a mile,” he says. “It was really closer to fast walking than anything. But when you’re carrying over 400 pounds, it’s quite the workout. I had started running again multiple times over the years. But this was the first time I stuck with it.”

For Maury, the surgery was only part of the solution. “After failing at every weight loss attempt, I knew I needed a full lifestyle change,” he says. “While I knew the bariatric surgery would help short term, I also realized I would have to add an exercise regimen to maintain the loss.”

He set out to run a couple of miles a couple of days each week. But then fate intervened.

Finding Community
“I was fortunate that I met a group of people locally who were also bariatric patients who had taken up running,” he says. “We all challenged each other to sign up for an 8k. My daily running got a little faster and the weight peeled off. By March of 2008, I was down around 300 pounds and I ran my first 8k. It took me 1:04, but I did it.”

That’s all Maury needed to get started. He did 10ks almost every weekend afterward, then finished his first half marathon on Labor Day 2008. “I was down to about 230 pounds then and was well on my way. By the fall of 2009, I had worked up to my first marathon.”

Those first endurance events paved the way for an impressive collection of finishes: 13 full marathons, 42 half marathons, two 50k ultras and a half Ironman.

And, like many runners, he has fully embraced the running community.

“The running community is the most amazing group of people I’ve ever met,” he says. “A couple years back I met an old high school friend for drinks after we’d run the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach. While we were sitting there, we saw the last finisher struggling to get up the boardwalk. She was being escorted by the police and the course was closing behind her. We all stood up and cheered loudly. She inspired us as much as the elite guys who had finished 5 hours before she. Everyone on that course has an amazing story.”

First Ultra: Seashore 50k 2012

First Ultra: Seashore 50k 2012

A life-changing nutrition plan

A solid nutrition plan accompanied his new-found fitness.

“I learned to eat for the first time in my life,” Maury says.

“I was a horrible binge eater before. Purely emotional, but I could easily take in a full day’s calories in a single sitting. The thing about a gastric bypass is it’s a timeout. But eventually your body adapts and you have to learn to adjust. The first part was purely mental: I had to look for the things that made me eat and come up with ways to make myself do something else.”

In order to keep the weight off, Maury focuses on “simple eating.”

“I really don’t divert much, usually eating most of the same foods every day,” he says. “I embraced that I was no longer on a diet and, instead, this was just how I was going to eat for life. It was difficult at first, but eventually it just became part of who I am.”

His routine menu consists of a bagel and coffee for breakfast, protein bar for a mid-day snack, salad and soup for lunch, and a normal dinner. At night, he’ll have oatmeal or cereal for a snack. Some people prefer cereal prepared in quality slow cooker.

Oatmeal has accompanied him on his journey to a healthy lifestyle. So much so, in fact, that his Twitter Instagram profiles include references to oatmeal.

“I love oatmeal. Eat it every day. I usually eat it at night though. It’s my evening indulgence. I have it simply: just some raisins and Splenda. But it fills up and keeps me from snacking. So, I guess it’s part of who I am now.”

For those wanting to lose weight and embrace fitness, Maury offers his life experience.

“I found that a lot of obese people are perfectionists,” he says. “By that I mean they decide if they can’t do things perfectly, they stop tying. That happened to me often. I’d start running, miss some days, and give up. Or I would eat better, break down and gorge on junk, and then go back. You have to accept that you won’t be perfect. And getting fixed will take a while. Eventually it’ll be part of who you are. So if you slip up and eat junk, just try to eat better tomorrow. If you miss a day of working out, just go do it tomorrow. Sure you need a goal. But ultimately it isn’t about the goal. It’s about the rest of your life.”

Everything zen

2014 Race Medals (after my last knee surgery)

2014 Race Medals (after my last knee surgery)

Maury has slowed down his running due to some knee problems unrelated to running.

“My knee is the perfect storm of injury and bad genes,” he says. “It isn’t from running. The car wreck put it on a bad course. The extra weight didn’t help. But both knees are badly arthritic. Purely inherited. My grandmother had rheumatoid arthritis that was so bad she couldn’t hold things in her hands. Her joints were so gnarled. My left knee started to grow an odd bone formation and it hurts a lot.”

On his doctor’s advice, he gave up marathons, running his last one in November 2014. He did 11 half marthons in 2015, then tweaked something and has since cut back to only doing 10ks when he can.

“I’m actually kind of zen about the whole thing now,” he says. “I run when I feel good. No deadlines. No training calendars. Some days it feels great and I’ll punch out five or six 8-minute miles. Some days I’ll take 35 minutes to run a 5k.

“No matter what, I realize I’m better off than I was before.”

Speed drill

Name: Blair Maury
Hometown: Richmond, Va.
Number of years running: 9
Point of pride: I weigh less at 45 than I did at 15.
Favorite race distance: 13.1
Favorite pre-race or training food/drink: I usually have a coffee before and after a run, regardless if it’s snowing or hot like 10,000 suns.
Favorite or inspirational song to run to: Anything not by Nickelback
Where can other runners connect or follow you:
Twitter: @nightoatmeal. Instagram: night oatmeal

3 Responses to From 400 Pounds to Endurance Athlete

  1. Kelly April 7, 2016 at 8:21 am #

    This is so inspirational! Keep it up Blair!

  2. Clint June 7, 2016 at 2:12 pm #

    “I found that a lot of obese people are perfectionists, by that I mean they decide if they can’t do things perfectly, they stop tying.”

    Wow, this is exactly me. Thanks for the fresh perspective! I’ve recently hit a wall and this might have a lot to do with it!

    Thanks for being an inspiration.

  3. Jol Martyn-Clark February 9, 2017 at 7:28 am #

    Superb Blair,so many things resonate with me! Eating is a big issue with me, the atheritis too. Snacking at night is an issue. I will try porridge too. Kee going, best wishes from UK.

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