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Written by James Combs


B.E. Thompson became an iconic figure in Lake County when he tipped the scales toward a healthier lifestyle by losing 320 pounds. Adoring fans watched as a man who once weighed 540 pounds achieved feats once deemed impossible for someone his size: pulling a full-size Hummer with a rope, taking nightly eight-mile walks around his hometown, and competing in numerous 5k races. His accomplishments inspired countless Lake County residents to begin their own weight-loss journey.

For B.E., this lifestyle change represents a lifelong commitment, and he understands encountering bumps and detours along the road is inevitable. In December 2015, he experienced his first setback after stepping on a scale and discovering he gained 58 pounds. Truth is, his weight had been slowly creeping up for a year and a half.

Much of that was attributed to a busy schedule. His career as director of development of LifeStream Behavioral Center and his involvement in a variety of community and charitable organizations demanded much of his time.

“I found myself attending so many meetings and social functions that it became impossible to keep up with my training schedule,” he says. “My diet never got out of control, but I was no longer balancing my caloric intake with physical activity. When you wane from doing your exercises and workouts, it has a negative impact.

” Family members and friends inspired him to get back on track.

“I became very frustrated when my weight gain impacted my wardrobe selection. Also, friends approached me delicately, asked about my weight gain, and wondered if I was OK. I’m glad they said something because that motivated me to lose these unwanted pounds.



” B.E. let temporary failure become a steppingstone to success. In March, he spearheaded the 2016 Business Wellness Challenge, a competition between the Lake Eustis Area Chamber of Commerce, the Leesburg Area Chamber of Commerce, and the South Lake Chamber of Commerce. He’s not only chairman of the Leesburg event; he is also a participant.

“I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t participate,” he says. “I want to serve as an example to others [to show] that having setbacks is not a reason to give up.”

Each day, B.E. dedicates six to eight hours to what he calls “fat-burn time.” He achieves a daily average of 14,000 steps by walking three miles at lunch and running in the evening. His hard work paid off because B.E. has lost 42 pounds.

“When I initially lost all my weight, I had so many people who prayed for me. I owe it not only to myself to stay healthy, but also to the people who have been so supportive.

The biggest thing I’ve learned from my setback is having balance in my life. I cannot apologize for saying no when someone wants me to attend an event, especially when it impedes my need to be physically active.”

About the author

James Combs

Akers Media Group's James Combs has been a staff writer for several local publications since August 2000. He has had the privilege of interviewing some of Lake County’s many fascinating residents—from innovative business owners to heroic war veterans—and bringing their stories to life. A resident of Lake County since 1986, James recently embarked on a journey to lead a healthier lifestyle. He has lost 60 pounds and walks nearly five miles a day. In his spare time, he enjoys target shooting, skeet shooting and watching his beloved Kentucky Wildcats!

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