ST. PETERSBURG –As a top athlete excelling on the football field, William “Billy” Swain put forth maximum effort on winning and gaining advantages. From his early high school days starring for the Lakewood Spartans to his college days at Southern Illinois University, winning and not losing was a large part of the expectation.
To go along with hard work and dedication, athletes focus on gaining strength, adding bulk to their muscles and eating the right amount of protein and carbohydrates to use as fuel for their get up and go. It’s part of the recipe for victory while they are in their glory playing days.
Then, the stadium lights are turned off and the crowd is no longer cheering.
That part of the game gets passed on to the next set of high dreamers who are looking to a professional team roster with a six-figure income.
“I’ve been an athlete since I was six years old, so training was an integral part of my life,” said Swain. “I was small and quick, so I could eat whatever I wanted. Gaining weight wasn’t an issue except I needed to put weight on my 5”8,” 165 lbs. frame to absorb being hit. I wanted to play college football and the players were a lot bigger than I.”
After high school, Swain went on to play Division I-AA football for Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill. In order to be competitive, he packed on the pounds and became a beast in the weight room. As a result, he added 20 pounds of bulk.
That’s great for the football field, but not so much when the playing days are done. When the stadium lights were turned off on Swain’s football career, his life took a turn.
He started a career with the Department of Children and Families and was the heaviest he had ever been, including his days of playing football. After years of unhealthy eating, erratic meal times and little exercise, things changed and brought about a different motivation.
His parents had spent years of eating traditional Sunday dinners and unhealthy meals every day. It may have been great for fellowship, but it was damaging to their bodies. Following years of visiting doctor after doctor, they found themselves taking heavy doses of medication and both diagnosed with high blood pressure. Their condition led to them being on dialysis and eventual death. It affected him tremendously.
“The process of my parents’ decline scared me into eating healthy and exercising,” said Swain. “I changed my eating habits and reduced my intake of fried food.”
Swain said he started eating more baked chicken with salad, green vegetables and fruit. Now he eats a lot of baked fish and has included an exercise regime.
“I knew what to do all along. Living became my motivation,” he said.
Swain lost 40 pounds in six months. When he started his exercise program, he couldn’t run a whole lap (one mile) around Lake Vista Park. So he’d run some and walked some, but it was important to keep moving. He now has a daily exercise routine including running four miles a day. His motivation was to lose.
“Today I feel great,” said Swain. “I have more energy and I sleep better. There is always time to exercise. The next time that you are doing nothing, think about what you could be doing that could benefit you and your family.”
That mentality may give you the motivation to lose.