Unhealthy habits are the toughest to break

As a heavier kid in high school, Mike Budensiek was never into sports or working out.

His strength was built through hard work on the farm, so, like many, he was active but remained overweight. He had a great work ethic, but working hard on his physical conditioning was not a part of his daily regimen.

In his 20s and 30s, he worked construction and had a passion for racing cars. Weekends at the track led to eating a lot of fast food, regular soda and beer. 

The inactivity and poor eating habits did nothing to promote health and fitness, so he continued to carry more than 300 pounds on his 6-foot, 5-inch frame. 

High levels of stress three years ago led Budensiek to feeling like he had "hit rock bottom" and he decided to make some changes. 


Budensiek, 46, decided to start walking as a form of therapy to help relieve the stress. His walk workouts consisted of 20 to 40 minutes per day, sometimes two times per day. 

Being faithful to this program helped him lose 50 pounds over the course of two years.

As time went on, he added a few free weights to his workout and made some changes with his eating habits.

Cutting out the junk food and fast food helped him lose an additional 30 pounds. Currently, he has lost a total of 80 pounds. 

Sticking with that regimen for several months, he hit a plateau. I suggested cardio intervals for his treadmill workouts, two to three days of strength training each week and a higher protein diet. Even a small change in his current plan will shock his body into adapting and break through the plateau. 

Besides forcing the body to adapt to new challenges, he had new ideas to keep him from getting bored. 

Within the first week of his new program, Budensiek had already dropped a couple of pounds and felt great.

He is currently working toward his physical goals of tightening up the midsection, losing the spare tire, gaining more tone and definition in his upper body and having a positive attitude. 


"When genetics are not on your side, you just have to work harder," he said. "Since I began this process, I have seen a drop in blood pressure, cholesterol and lessened my risk of diabetes." 

His sleep apnea has also disappeared, so nighttime is much more restful. 

"People come into your life that make a difference and have an influence along the way,’’ he said.

"When somebody believes in you, it helps you gain the confidence you need to make the necessary changes. When you take care of yourself you feel good from top to bottom, both physically and mentally.’’

Shelly Greenfield is an athletic trainer and writer in Rochester. Fitness Matters features the fitness stories of area residents. To offer a story, e-mail 

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