Vinson Smith comes across as a normal guy. The High School football coach from a small town in North Carolina is laid back and easy to talk to. You get the sense that this is a man who abounds in low key confidence and is incredibly comfortable with who he is.
It would be hard to believe that that this 6’1”, 225 pound fitness fanatic and personal trainer once tipped the scales at over 500 pounds
Vinson was at his heaviest when he was between the ages of 17 and 18. Having lost his father to cancer at the 16, Vinson said, “the extreme weight gain started in the stage of switching over from a boy to a man.” He describes himself as, “an emotional eater. I eat when I’m happy, I eat when I’m sad, I eat when I’m angry.”
Speaking with Vinson now, on the other side of his dramatic weight loss, it’s easy to see why he was not only successful at losing the weight, but also at inspiring others, both in the gym and on the football field. He says that part of what helped him drop the weight was that he was, ”chasing more than just the American dream,” adding that just like he tells his players, “There’s gotta be something above winning that you want. There needs to be a goal outside of those white lines that you’re striving for.”
Inspirational approach aside, Vinson also states bluntly, “I just didn’t want to be big anymore.”
We spoke with Vinson about his weight loss and to pick his brain about how other people can achieve the sort of results he did, even if it’s not on the same scale as his incredible 280 pound change.
What is important to keep in mind for anyone wanting to make a major change like you did?
I think that it’s most important to keep in mind that it’s a process, it’s an absolute process. From start to finish, it’s going to take work. It’s going to take time and the most dangerous thing is, the results you want don’t come overnight.
Don’t rush to the scale. Keep track of inches that you lose. Look at progressive steps and look at your performance improvement before you look at the scale. If I can touch my toes now and couldn’t before, that’s a huge accomplishment. If you can improve your performance, that just opens up the door to more things that you can do and that opens up more options for you fitness wise.
How long did the weight loss take?
In 2015 is when I decided I wanted to be 225 and it took until the I did the Mens Health article in December. It’s been a 10 year process, but from 275 – 225 took a good year that I could actual keep the weight off. Losing that 50 pounds took about six to eight months, but it was a lot of fine tuning to make sure that you can stay at that weight, I hover around now between 225 and 235.
What methods did you use to lose the weight?
Getting a personal trainer was huge, and he helped me base my workouts on what I want to do in the next 5 years. I don’t want to have kids till I’m in my late 30’s and when I look at friends who are already settled down, I see what it takes in order to run around with a 6 year old or what it takes to be running up and down to get bottles when they’re an infant.
In terms of exercise, I’m a football player, so I do a lot of football style work outs. Now I’m not going to be able to move Julius Culpepper or go up against Michael Strahan every weekend, but I still like to do that style of work out. I like to do those sprints, Olympic lifting, and Kettle Bells. But, definitely Yoga was the biggest push for me. In terms of the look I wanted to achieve, it really got me there.
What is the biggest benefit of losing that much weight?
Just feeling good. It’s helped me help other people in terms of my profession in the fitness industry. The security in knowing who you are. That’s huge.
I always thought that my dad was my superman. I know that everyone says that they had the best dad in the world, but I’m sorry, I had the best dad in the world and for me a bit of my complex before the weight came off, was I needed to be just like my dad, just like my father, and that didn’t happen. So for me, it was becoming comfortable with myself and not having to live up to anyone else’s expectation or fitting anyone else’s image of me.
What is your #1 fitness Tip for people?
Nutrition is 90% of the whole process. I still have the appetite of a 500 pound person and it takes a lot to keep on track there, but once you get a hold of that aspect, you are good to go.
What helped you the most from a nutritional stand point?
I’m a big pasta guy, and finding healthier ways to make those dishes, like using spaghetti squash or using whole grain noodles, is a great thing. Finding recipes and ways to cook and eat healthy really put me in control of the nutrition. It put my nutrition into my hands and made it better than just running out to get salad all the time. It turned eating into a process that I could still enjoy without eating the things that I used to eat.