In just 10 months—relying on hard work, determination and a little guidance—Bill Li lost 95 pounds, completely overhauling his body and health. And, there is little doubt that by the time this article is printed, the last five of his 100-pound goal will be gone.
It all started in March of 2015 when Li, at the encouragement of his mother, signed up for personal training with Bellevue Club trainer Cameron Court. At the time, the Bellevue native who stands at six feet four inches, weighed 297 pounds. He says a lifestyle that included a poor diet and a lot of screen time contributed to his weight.
“Me and my mom were discussing it, and she pointed out how worried she was, and that made me worried. I didn’t realize I was becoming fat. I wasn’t weighing myself. I ate whatever I wanted,” Li says. “My dad passed away last year; he was really overweight. He drank, he smoked and ate a lot of terrible things. I never wanted to become like him.”
And just like that, changing the trajectory of his life suddenly became hugely important, and health became his top priority.
“I wanted to do this for my health,” Li says. “I don’t work out for anybody else but myself. I don’t really work out to look good; I just want to be healthy.”
So, Li went to work with Court training six times a week.
“In the beginning, there was a lot of mixed exercises— cardio, heavy weightlifting, strength, a little bit of everything,” Li says. “Then during the summer, we did a big cardio push. I built up to where I was doing cardio every day; I would run to the Club, which is about a mile away, work out and do more cardio, then run home.”
“The first couple weeks, it was a little bit of a struggle. There wasn’t a ton of progress,” Court says. “He was still getting used to stuff, exercises and equipment. But once he started to get it, he started losing three pounds a week. That’s huge. But what’s really impressive is that since then his weight has not gone up or even stayed at one weight. He dropped every week. That’s incredible.”
Both Li and Court agree his dedication to exercise played a huge part in dropping the weight. But there was another component—his diet. Court instilled his philosophy on nutrition in Li—that you can’t outwork a bad diet. Li says with the help of his mother he cut out all processed foods, focused on eating lean meats and proteins.
“One of the main turning points (I was still eating lunch from school) was making my own food and bringing it to school every day,” Li says, who credits much of his success to the support his mother shows him. “My mom, she helps me a lot, and I’m really thankful for what she’s done.”
Court, who specializes in training young athletes, says that with a generation plagued with childhood obesity and more access to screens, technology and processed foods, having a supportive family can be a crucial factor.
“The hardest part is that parents and kids have to be on the same page,” Court says. “The kid has to want it, and the parents really have to get to a point that they are encouraging and want the same thing.”
Li says he learned many things throughout the process, mostly about how to take care of his body and health. But the piece of advice he wants to share with other people who might be considering making a similar goal is more about getting started. “I think the most important thing is realizing you have a problem,” Li says.