I first “met” Eli Sapharti when I read about his transformation in People magazine. I don’t normally post magazine features on my Facebook page, but was impressed with the group of motivational man (he was the only male featured) and women who transformed their lives by losing over 100 pounds through diet and exercise. Later, by chance, I found him on Facebook (not realizing this was also the man I read about) and had the opportunity to talk to him on my drive to San Francisco a couple weeks ago!
He’s an incredibly inspiring human being. He has a genuine mission to help others with his story: from being overweight as a child, to battling it during his marriage and taking it ‘one step at a time’. There is no magic pill to his weight loss transformation, just pure determination, persistence and patience. This 6-foot-1, 180-pound man, tipped the scale at 300lbs and managed to lose 110 lbs of fat that unveiled an incredible physique underneath.
So how did he do it? What did he eat? Is he married? Join his facebook page and read on for your answers:
1. What motivated you to lose weight?
After years of suffering with obesity, “dieting” and impulsive gym “joining” which only lasted a few weeks AT THE MOST, I had an epiphany. I was traveling on business when a cute female clerk at an airport store said to me “You’re really good looking for a BIG GUY.” All I heard was “You’re FAT!” It wasn’t like I didn’t KNOW I was fat, but it was that precise moment that it just HIT me! Thinking that entire trip about how my years of failed attempts at dieting and sporadic exercising were obviously not the answer, I decided to make 2 small changes in my life even if they were the ONLY changes I ever made. This is how I came up with my “One Step at a Time” principles.
2. What is the first thing you did to institute change?
The first thing I did was to commit to walking for 15 minutes EVERY evening when my kids went to sleep. I also made a small change in my daily eating habits by eliminating my 2 liter a day Coca Cola habit. Making these 2 “minor” changes, I scored a 2 lbs weight loss the first week!
3. What continues to inspire you to maintain your diet/exercise routine?
What inspires me most is the fact that others look to me as an example and as an inspiration. That alone makes me want to be my best at all times, not to mention my results keep me pretty motivated.
4. What does your daily routine look like?
Check out his full workout on bodybuilding.com
5. What is your weekly workout?
CURRENTLY I work out 6 days per week, incorporating weight training in conjunction with High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). I am also an avid long distance runner and when I am preparing for race season, I run anywhere between 15-35 miles per week.
6. What is your weekly diet?
I don’t have a specific diet, but in general I maintain a “clean” eating regime which include lean meats (Chicken breast, Turkey breast, Lean beef), complex carbohydrates (Oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes), LOTS of fruits and veggies. Oh yeah, and I drink A LOT of water! 1 gallon per day!
7. What is your philosophy on training?
My training philosophy is simple: Find something you like to do and DO IT! I happen to enjoy working out at a gym, but you never have to step inside a gym in order to get healthy and fit. This lifestyle is MY hobby and I love it! I am also a firm believer that not everyone wants to be an avid fitness buff and that is 100% OK. As long as you stay active in some way at least 5 times per week and eat in moderation, you can achieve good health.
8. What question are you asked the most? What is your answer?
The most frequently asked questions I get asked are “How long did it take you to lose the weight?” and “Did you have an issue with loose skin?” The short answer to the first question is around 16 months, but it took me years to get “FIT”. As far as loose skin, I am very fortunate to be blessed with great genetics and loose skin wasn’t a major problem for me. When I first lost the weight it was clearly more noticeable, but as I gained muscle and lost fat, it tightened up. Regardless, what I tell folks that do have an issue with loose skin is that getting healthy is priority #1! Once one reaches a healthy weight, skin can be removed relatively easy through surgery. I personally know a handful of people that have had great weight loss success and have had their skin surgically removed and today they are models and bodybuilding champs.
9. Where you heavy as a child? Did you play sports? When did you start gaining weight?
I suffered with obesity since the age of 8 along with all its social repercussions as well. I did play sports, but I ended up hating them because I was made fun of.
My major weight gain started at the age of 21 when I got married and hit its peak at the age of 38 when the scale came very close to hitting 300 lbs.
10. What is the biggest change in your life since losing 100 pounds?
THE biggest change for me since losing 110 pounds is definitely the fact that I have found my life’s passion! The fact that I can help to inspire, motivate and teach others how they too can achieve great weight loss success “One Step at a Time” is the most rewarding feeling ever!
11. What is your advice for overweight people first starting out?
The most important piece of advice I can give them is that this is not an “All or nothing” process. This is not about going on a “diet” or about becoming a “gym rat”. To achieve long-term weight loss success is about making small changes on a weekly basis to your daily eating habits and your daily physical activity. Also, be PATIENT and do not worry about HOW much weight you have to lose. If you focus on your small changes EVERYDAY, you will see progress almost on a weekly basis. And trust me, what too many looks like my “overnight success” took me YEARS, but its permanent, well worth it and it feels AWESOME!
12. Tell me about your work in the fitness industry today.
My work and passion today is in helping to motivate, inspire and teaching others through motivational/weight loss coaching and motivational speaking. I coach those who need to lose 50 pounds or more through my “One Step at a Time” approach along with being their motivational support. I also speak publicly at different health/wellness events and organizations.
13. How were you approached to appear in People Magazine and how did that exposure change your life?
People magazine found me through my presence online and asked if I would be interested in being considered for their “100+ lbs weight loss bathing suit feature”. I was the ONLY male chosen out of hundreds of candidates to appear in the Aug 27, 2012 issue! I am so grateful for this, because this exposure has given me a huge “soap box” on where to spread my message of hope, motivation and inspiration with the masses!
I was extremely excited to see the feature! It still feels pretty surreal to see myself SHIRTLESS on the centerfold of People magazine! LOL!
14. I see you are a divorced father. Are you still single? What do you look for in a woman? How important is fitness in a potential partner?
I am a divorced father of 3 wonderful children ages 17, 14 & 10 but I am not single. I have been fortunate enough to meet an amazing woman who is not only my girlfriend, but is also my best friend, my rock and my biggest supporter. Luckily she is also physically active and together we lead a healthy and active lifestyle.
15. How has your fitness changed the lives of your children?
I believe, or at least I hope, that my transformation has taught my children that anything we set our minds to and put forth our efforts towards can be achieved…One Step at a Time!