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Recreation

Sam Wexler is 'not special,' but is a national champ

Ogden column: Cedar Rapids man wins $10,000 in Farrell's fitness challenge

Sam Wexler of Cedar Rapids recently was named the “Male National Champion” in the Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping’s yearlong challenge. The $10,000 prize was great, he said, but his new life is even better. (Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping)
Sam Wexler of Cedar Rapids recently was named the “Male National Champion” in the Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping’s yearlong challenge. The $10,000 prize was great, he said, but his new life is even better. (Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping)

Sometimes sports champions are not the superstars.

Sometimes they are just like you and me. Sometimes all it takes is a decision to change your life.

“I’m not special,” said Sam Wexler of Cedar Rapids. “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”

What Wexler did is win $10,000 as the “Male National Champion” in the Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping’s yearly challenge.

Farrell’s has locations in 11 states, including 19 in Iowa. The yearlong challenge is based on several factors, including weight loss and fitness level.

Wexler, 31, went from 330 pounds to just over 202 during the challenge. But, more importantly, he said his life changed.

“I was always a big kid,” said Wexler, who grew up outside Washington, D.C., in Fairfax, Va.

He played football in high school, but said he was far from a star player.

“I played offensive line so I could eat whatever I wanted,” he said.

He moved to Iowa to attend Iowa State University and got bigger, his health starting to suffer. He tried a variety of workouts — on his own at home, with other gyms and programs — and once lost 80 pounds in six months on a diet that left him “with other health issues” because he wasn’t paying attention to his nutritional needs.

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His weight and lack of fitness were causing problems, not “end of the world” things, but “I was teetering on the edge.” He had back pain, migraines, his blood pressure was climbing and becoming an issue and he was “prediabetic.”

“You can get away with a lot when you’re young enough,” he said.

But Wexler wasn’t getting any younger and, he said, something had to change. He wanted a better life, a more fulfilling life. He met the woman who would become his wife and, together, they took steps in a different direction. Sarah Wexler, too, took part in the yearly challenge and the two held each other accountable.

Again, the weight loss was important, but more than that, Wexler finally was able to do things he only dreamed about in the past.

That was life changing.

“There’s a lot of little things in life that you struggle and fight with every day when you’re big,” he said.

He didn’t like the way he looked in pictures. He didn’t like being told he couldn’t do certain things because he was too big.

Even though he’s afraid of heights, he said “I always wanted to go sky diving.”

He was told he was too heavy.

“Imagine that,” he said. “I was too fat to fall.”

He recently checked sky diving off his list.

“I don’t worry about that now,” he said. “It’s really a total difference.”

Wexler isn’t done, yet. He continues to work out, trying to “achieve a little more than I did the day before.

“It just takes grit. You’ve just got to do it,” he said.

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Sometimes being a champion is as simple as that. Making changes in your life, making choices in your life that help you become the person you want to be.

“Knowing what I know now, I would have paid $10,000” for this new life, he said.

Maybe that does make you a superstar.

“This is what I always wanted to be,” he said.

l Comments: (319) 368-8696; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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