After Quitting Halfway Through a Spartan Race, I Lost 40 Pounds and Signed Up for Another One

Greg Ferrara made a commitment to improve his physical and mental health — and it seriously paid off.


Photographs courtesy Greg Ferrara.

Changing your body takes hard work, persistence, and dedication. Here’s one local’s story. Want to share your Transformation Story? Email [email protected]

Who: Greg Ferrara, 32, sales analyst and personal trainer, and coach at OpenBox Athletics from Point Breeze

Why I wanted to make the change: “I’ve always fought with my weight, constantly yo-yoing every several months it seemed. During the summer of 2015, I participated in a Spartan race in the Poconos with a bunch of friends and about halfway through the course, I pulled myself out of the race because I felt that physically I couldn’t go any further.  It was then that I had made a commitment to better myself physically and mentally to finish that race in 2016.”

Height: 5’7″

Starting weight: 230 pounds

Current weight: 190 pounds

What all changed: “Since following a structured training plan, increases in power and strength are definitely more noticeable as is my endurance. Five-kilometer runs and 30-minute non-stop circuit workouts aren’t as daunting as they used to be. They gym itself and the time I spend working out have even become calming and therapeutic in a way, and the people that I’ve been able to meet along the journey are well worth the time and effort.”

After having to drop out of the Spartan race in 2015, Ferrara returned the following year and completed the race. Photograph courtesy Greg Ferrara.

How I changed my diet: “My diet was probably the most challenging thing to change. Ice cream, pizza, soft pretzels — all of the foods you crave need to be monitored and eliminated or consumed in moderation.  Same thing with the alcohol. Don’t get me wrong — I love a good party or BBQ, especially in the summer — but your drinks are loaded with empty calories and can sabotage a week’s worth of work in the gym in one night. Nowadays, I try to prep my meals for the week as much as I can so I go into everyday with a game plan, and keep an eye on my macronutrients (fats, carbs, protein) to make sure I have the right balance of calories to help me reach my goals.  It also helps me to better make decisions on when I can reach for that extra slice of pizza!”

How I changed my workout plan: “I went out and got a trainer. I knew I was going to need some type of help to get me to where I wanted to go, and I saw this as an investment in my current self and my future self that would (hopefully) pay dividends. Instead of half-assing it at the gym for an hour between the treadmill and a few machine weight stations, we went in with a plan that would get my heart rate going and build more muscle, which in turn would help burn more fat.

“We started with four to five workouts per week, with most of the workouts consisting of multiple circuits being done for time or rounds working all parts of the body: legs, chest, back, shoulders.  These days, workouts typically begin with a warm-up and mobility session, followed by power and strength programming, and wrapping up with some conditioning work to maintain cardio endurance.”

“Instead of half-assing it at the gym for an hour between the treadmill and a few machine weight stations, we went in with a plan.”

What I’m most proud of: “The fact that my commitment to transform myself led me down the path of earning my personal training certificate so that I can lead others on their own transformation journey.”

The hardest part: “Making smart choices while eating out with friends or family, hands down.  I come from a family that likes its food, and having to choose between grilled chicken with steamed vegetables or cheese-filled ravioli and meatballs can have you struggling to find the resolve to stick to your dieting plan.”

What I want everyone to know: “Have a positive attitude — about everything. Think of everything in terms of do’s, not dont’s. Give your best effort every time, and you’ll never be disappointed.”

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