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How to lose the weight - but not the beer
Derek Gelber has successfully lost 100 pounds while allowing himself to continue to drink beer. - photo by KATIE DUNN

Road worriers

By: Times_Newsroom

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Start exercising, eating right

Baby steps
Mark Aguilar with Anytime Fitness in Braselton said taking “little baby steps” and establishing simple, realistic goals can help ensure those 2010 resolutions last until 2011. If wanting to lose weight while getting in shape, Aguilar said the key ingredients to shedding pounds are drinking more water, cutting out processed foods and starting a workout program.

Set goals
“Set them low and realistic and then journal,” he said. “Write down how you felt that day (and) what happened.” If seeing a trainer to help achieve your goal, recording your results can help them find the best routine for your needs.

Take it easy
When beginning a workout program, take it easy and do a mixture of aerobic and weight-lifting exercises.

Eat well
When it comes to eating, Aguilar said to cut out all processed and unhealthy foods from your diet.

Katie Dunn

BRASELTON — Losing weight while still regularly consuming beer might seem an unlikely concoction.

But for Derek Gelber, juggling both is the only way he wants to live.

On a brisk, 37 degree morning earlier this week, Gelber, 30, steadily tackled his hour-long workout at Anytime Fitness in Braselton while sporting a sweaty Miller Lite T-shirt.

Since November 2008, the Braselton resident has lost 102 pounds by exercising and maintaining a healthy diet. But one indulgence he refuses to give up is alcohol.

“I was as strict as I could be without changing the fact that I’m still going to hang out, I’m still going to tailgate, I’m still going to go to the pool and funnel beers with my buddies,” he said.

Gelber, originally 340 pounds, now weighs 238 pounds and wants to slim down even further to 215 pounds.

Weight wasn’t always a struggle for Gelber, either. In 1998, he attended the University of Georgia and swam for the men’s swimming and diving team.

Two years later, he made it to the Olympic trials in Sydney, Australia, but failed to qualify for the Olympics. During his swimming career, Gelber said he weighed 187 pounds.

Following his failed Olympics run, Gelber retired from swimming after 15 years and admitted that he “just let himself go.”

“It was weird not practicing two times a day and having that order and that discipline and so I just lost it and ended up 340 pounds,” he said.

But in 2008, when he decided he might want to join the U.S. Army, Gelber needed to lose weight to be eligible to enlist: 120 pounds to be exact.

Gelber has since decided against joining the military, but losing weight and staying fit suit him just fine, as long as he can still enjoy the refreshing taste of a cold brew after an intense work-out.

The job of helping Gelber slim down, while at the same time allowing him to maintain his alcohol hankering, fell to fitness trainer Mark Aguilar of Anytime Fitness in Braselton and Gelber’s college friend Jacob Baker.

“Obviously beer consumption, alcohol, can have a negative effect on the body, but Derek’s young and he’s active and it’s one of the things he told us he was not going to stop doing,” Aguilar recalled. “He goes to Georgia football games and hangs out and tailgates with his friends. It was a lifestyle he really wasn’t willing to give up.”

While his beer consumption might impress some current college students, the rest of Gelber’s diet is hardly fit for a Saturday afternoon football game.

He eats exactly 350 calories every three hours, with a low fat yogurt and low sodium vegetable juice for breakfast, two turkey sandwiches for lunch and plenty of lean meats and fish, as well as a protein shake two times a day.

“He managed portions and he managed calories the entire time, though he really didn’t count the Miller Lite calories at all,” Aguilar said.

Gelber’s exercise routine involves a mixture of aerobic and weight lifting exercises that work the entire body. Aguilar said the routine is adjusted so Gelber burns enough calories during each workout.

When asked to share his secret to weight loss, Gelber says there is no such thing. Instead, he said it boils down to eating right, exercising and staying motivated.

“I did this by myself. I didn’t come in with a partner every day, I didn’t have anybody to get me out of bed, I didn’t have anybody to lift with,” he said. “It was just something that was really important to me and that’s the only reason I was able to do it.”
And being this strong-willed may also help Gelber achieve another of his goals.

“I want to be able to coach swimming somewhere,” he said. “I want to be able to help a kid be better than what he was before I coached him.”

For other people also wanting to lose weight this year, Gelber said the best advice he can offer is to stay true to yourself.

“When you set a goal, you have to have a why,” he said. “It’s got to be important enough because if you don’t have a strong why then it’s not going to work out very well because you’re going to find reasons why not to (do something).”