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By Greyson Steele

It is 4 a.m.  Dan Cox enters Family Fitness in Plainwell, Mich., located 1 mile from his home.  What the 38-year-old lacks in caffeine intake at this hour of the morning, he makes up for in determination.

Cox is in training for his first marathon, the Kalamazoo Marathon on May 7. Although he has yet to clock in for his 12-hour shift on this day, the father of three is already working in a different way, working toward his marathon goal.

“Right now, I’m so obsessed with getting rid of the weight and accomplishing the goal of a marathon,” Cox said.  “The thought of not working out or missing a run–I don’t want to say it’s terrifying– but I feel like I’m setting myself back.”

Since March 9, Cox, 38, has begun each day spending up to 90 minutes working out.  Through diet and exercise, the father of three has made an effort to avoid the diabetes that has plagued his family, reducing his weight to 209 pounds from 278 over the past nine months. The weight loss has sparked a new form of confidence in other aspects of life as well according to Cox, a confidence that recently motivated him to pursue and accept a promotion from his employer USG.

“As you go on and you accomplish things, like at the gym say losing 60 pounds, you just feel like when something else in life comes up you’re like ‘Oh it’s no big deal, I can get that done.’ It just changes your mindset on things,” Cox said.

For many years, maintaining consistent weight loss has been a struggle, according to Cox. Changing circumstances always seemed to cause him to return to his ‘old ways.’  His demeanor changed one morning though, when he looked in the mirror.  He had his family in mind.

“As a dude you can always look in the mirror getting out of the shower and go ‘I don’t look that bad’ but for whatever reason, that morning I looked in the mirror and I was like ‘God I’m fat.  I’m just fat and disgusting, ’” Cox said.  “Everyone in my family is diabetic.  My mom’s just starting dialysis after being a diabetic her whole life and I just don’t want to be there.  I don’t want to have to deal with that kind of thing.”

After a routine of jump rope, burpees and weighted ropes in 30-second intervals, Cox pauses to take notice of his progress.  He emphasizes that although he feels a sense of accomplishment in what he has done up to this point, he has more work to do in order to achieve his ultimate goal, running in the Kalamazoo Marathon on May 7.

“I mean there’s a weight-loss number but it’s not really about the number as much as the goal is running a marathon,” Cox said.  “I just have this desire to find out what the maximum potential of my body is, and I think a marathon is the ultimate test of endurance.”

As Cox shifts toward the upper-body portion of his workout, he explains that his progress in the gym has translated well beyond simply losing 70 pounds.  A self-proclaimed “man of routine,”  the 38-year-old recently took on a new challenge, accepting a new position from his employer USG.  He’s worked in the company’s shipping department for three years, but recently applied and was promoted to a higher-paying position within the company’s production department, which presents a handful of new challenges.

 “A year ago, before I started working out and dieting, I never would have put in for that job.  I would have just continued to complain about the situation I was in,” Cox said.

Cox’s efforts through diet and exercise have not gone unnoticed by those around him.  In particular, his wife of 20 years, Lisa Cox, notes a change in her husband’s mindset.

“I am kind of surprised by the goal setting; his ideas of having goals, setting them, and achieving them,” Lisa Cox said.  “He always seemed to be okay with where he was at and he always used to say to me ‘I don’t have goals.  I don’t see why we have to have goals.’”

For Cox’s eldest son Jordan, age 20, his father’s progress comes as no surprise.

“He’s always said he wanted to lose the weight and now he’s finally at a place in his life where he’s able to do it.  He’s not letting anything or anyone hold him back,” Jordan Cox said.

Although many people have congratulated him on the progress he has made thus far, the focus remains on preparing for May 7, according to Cox.  

“The more people that tell you you’ve accomplished something, even though it’s not the goal you’ve set for yourself, you still feel like you’ve accomplished something,” Cox said.  “Really, all I’ve done is lose 74 pounds, that isn’t crap.  That’s not the goal.”

Cox stretches before stepping onto the treadmill for his daily run.  The voice of a motivational speaker travels from his Samsung Y7 into his ears.

“I’m just so motivated to achieve the goal.  I can’t explain to you how determined I am,” Cox said.

Cox is working to improve his pace. In March, the 3.1-mile run took upwards of 45 minutes to complete.  Now, he reaches the mark in less than 25. The progress over the past nine months is a result of saying “I can,” Cox said.

“I’m the type of person that if I say I’m gonna run a marathon, I’ll die trying to do it.” 


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