As the clock strikes midnight Saturday, many people will vow to make some sort of change in their lives during the new year. Whether it’s eating better, exercising more or quitting smoking, the new year offers a chance to start over and kick those bad habits that have invaded everyday life.
Beebe native and University of Central Arkansas graduate Ben Davis didn’t make a new year’s resolution. He made a promise.
Davis spent most of his life overweight but saw his weight begin spiralling out of control after starting college.
While on Christmas break in 2008, Davis had a conversation with his grandmother that would change his life.
On Christmas Eve, Davis’ grandmother asked him if he was happy with his life.
"My grandma’s always been my biggest supporter," Davis said. "She would never be malicious, but she was always concerned about my health."
After thinking about his grandmother’s question, Davis realized he wasn’t happy and hadn’t been for quite some time.
"I had a moment of introspect, and thought, ‘I’ve got to change my life, or it’s going to get too far gone,’" Davis said.
He immediately got out of bed, jumped on the computer and started his blog, Ben Does Life.
On Christmas morning, he made a promise to his grandmother and started the journey to improve his life and make drastic changes to his 360-pound frame.
Davis began his lifestyle changes with his brother, Jed, head football coach at Mayflower High School.
The two dove in head first, despite not knowing where to start.
"We didn’t know exactly what to do, but we had the motivation and excitement," Davis said. "We said, ‘Let’s start running.’"
Davis said one of the biggest changes was made to his diet.
"We overhauled everything," Davis said. "I was eating out every meal. That’s just not a way to live."
Davis said he and his brother made grocery shopping a competition to keep their motivation going.
"It was a lot of fun to have someone there," Davis said.
After a few months, Davis’ father "caught the running bug" and joined the brothers in their quest for healthier lifestyles.
Now, two years later and 120 pounds lighter, Davis, along with his brother and father, has competed in numerous races from 5Ks to an Ironman competition.
"It’s been really cool to go through all the distances," Davis said. "We did an Ironman this summer. That never seemed possible. It’s emotional to do it by yourself, but to do it with my dad and brother adds another layer of emotion."
Although he’s pleased with the progress he’s made, Davis still has goals to reach.
He wants to shed 15 more pounds to reach his ideal weight and has set his sights on the Boston Marathon.
Although most people probably aren’t trying to become marathon runners, those looking to improve their lifestyle can follow Davis’ steps.
"This biggest thing is you have to be somewhat public about it," Davis said. "The natural thing is to keep problems inside or be ashamed, but the biggest thing is to tell people. More often than not the people that you tell are going to love and care about you. You have to find people you can talk to about it. It makes it easier to share the burden with others."
Davis said another key to success is getting involved in group activities, such as a running or a swimming club or boot camp.
"It can become a grind to go by yourself to the gym everyday," Davis said. "You find a camaraderie. You can gripe and complain together. You don’t dread it."
People taking the steps to get healthier and improve their lifestyle can also find inspiration through Davis’ blog at www.bendoeslife.com or through his Do Life movement, which can be found on Facebook.
His personal blog includes stats, records and a log of his daily life, while the Do Life Facebook page features daily tips from Davis, as well as fans of the movement.
Davis hopes his Do Life movement and its website will become a place "where people can go and share encouragement and experiences for anything your struggling with, from running to being a better father."
With all of his success over the past two years, Davis still keeps his focus and remembers what started it all.
"Everyday I wake up, run, exercise, eat right and blog about it for my grandma."
(Staff writer Stephanie Fischer can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1238. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit.)