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Murray Journal

Murray man turns life around, wins national fitness contest

Aug 18, 2021 01:59PM ● By Justin Adams

Bert Payton credits his family with help in reaching his health goals. (Photo courtesy of Bert Payton)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

A brush with death and an extended stay at the hospital gave Murray resident Bert Payton a wake-up call that he needed to turn his life around. Payton committed to eating healthy and regular exercise at his local gym, EōS Fitness (5550 S. 900 East). They recognized him as a company-wide “Submit Your Fit” contest winner for his turnaround story.

In 2015, Payton and his family found themselves caring for his grandfather and nephew. Like many caregivers, the health of others preceded their own, and the stress of dealing with it led Payton to gain weight. By 2016, after the deaths of his grandfather and nephew, Payton developed pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and was hospitalized in the ICU for three months; the doctors made clear to him what he had to do.

“I knew I had to change my health around; it wasn’t really an option not to. I had to make serious life changes, or I would end up in the same position as before. I realized that the lifestyle I had wasn’t working, and I was neglecting the things that brought me happiness,” Payton said. “I decided once my health started to improve, I would just start small. Eat better, be more active, make my trips to the gym a regular habit, and ask for help and support.”

Bert’s wife, Erin, recognized her husband’s commitment. “In 2016, Bert was at his lowest point and hospitalized with pancreatitis….Since then, he has worked extremely hard, replacing bad habits with positive change. Bert has been the greatest example of challenge, strength, and determination to all that know him….He tells our two young girls often, ‘Our greatest accomplishments usually aren’t the easy ones. Love yourself, live your life and ask for help when you need it.’”

EōS Fitness trainer Kalen Adams explained goal planning. “Whatever you decide to do, you need to know what the end goal is and have a detailed plan on how to get there. If we don’t plan out the details, it is too easy to compromise. It is too easy to let ourselves off the hook early or cheat on our diet or exercise program,” Adams said. “I prefer to use SMART goals with my clients. A SMART goal is: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely.” 

Payton had planned on just starting small. Instead, he made better eating choices and did more to stay active, and made going to the gym a regular habit. He also wasn’t afraid of asking for help and support.

[The one] “thing I did to stay on track and stay in shape is [be] consistent. It’s key—make a routine and keep it. Make small changes. Become inspired so you can inspire others. Surround yourself with others that have the same goals,” Payton said. “My wife is a great cook and helps keep our entire family on track, so we are eating at home and eating out less. Our ‘cheat days’ are more fun and rewarding and not turning into everyday habits. Small positive changes turn into rewarding habits.”

Adams said accountability is vital to goals. “Another huge key to success is accountability. If you have a well-written plan, someone to hold you accountable to it, and checks up on you regularly, statistics say you are 92% more likely to achieve your goal. I don’t know about you, but 92% more likely to succeed sounds pretty good to me.” 

While Payton’s healthy lifestyle change is remarkable, he reminds people that he has had to keep at it for over four years. He also credits his wife and daughters for supporting him to reach his objectives.

“I feel I’m always a work in progress. I haven’t reached an end goal of my health and fitness because I never like to stay stagnant. I love to push myself and encourage my two girls to do the same. I like to think of our family as a better, stronger, and healthier family that pushes each other to consistently reach and achieve goals,” Payton said.