After climbing some 250 steps to reach the Whispering Gallery of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England, Dane Benton sat on a concrete bench along the side of the circular dome, surrounded by people of varying nationalities and dialects. While sitting there, Benton began to ponder things. It was January 2, 2008, and in the spirit of the New Year, Benton reflected upon his life and all the things he’d learned about himself while visiting London. Sitting upon that bench, Benton realized he’d finally had enough, so he made a promise – that 2008 would be the year he would finally do something for himself and lose the weight that had ruled him for too long.
In the second grade, Benton was 120 pounds, double what an average second grader weighs. “An overweight child faces different challenges,” said Benton. “I was never picked to play basketball or any other physical activities and was forced to play on my own.” It wasn’t until fifth and sixth grade that Benton found himself hanging out with other students in the same situation. He talked a lot with his teachers during recess time. “It’s where I felt comfortable and it forced me to grow up a little,” said Benton. “I didn’t feel I had a place because of my size and it got worse with age, which caused my confidence to drop drastically.”
In Benton’s early adult years, his weight took on a new classification – morbid. “Obesity wasn’t something that simply became a phase or something that had been done to me, it was something that I’d done to myself,” said Benton. “I made the decision to overeat on a grand, American level. I made the decision to watch my pant size grow higher and higher and higher.”
Shortly after returning home from London, Benton joined Weight Watchers. “From the first moment I stepped onto their scale, I knew that I was in an environment that would not only support and encourage me, but where I could actually change,” said Benton. “I worked out constantly, ate the right foods, and never stopped.” Benton’s weight and pant sizes began dropping quickly. He went from a size 60 to a 48 in about seven months.
Benton eventually learned that this process wasn’t going to be easy. After a year and a half, he found himself slowly falling off the bandwagon. “Life was happening so fast, but I never thought that the excuses I’d always heard from others would become mine as well,” said Benton. After graduating from Anderson University, Benton moved to Indianapolis, Ind., became a member at the YMCA, attended his first Weight Watcher’s meeting in a long time and found himself more determined than ever.
“I’m in this for the win and I’m not stopping until I’m in a healthy weight range,” said Benton. “Life will surely get in the way. There are countless weddings, family get-togethers and celebrations in my very near future, but I’m going to stick it out until the end. Because I’m worth it, and I know I can do this.”
In May, Benton ran the Indianapolis Mini Marathon in honor of his father, Mark Benton. “I trained with Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training, whose purpose is to fundraise and train for endurance events in the hope of one day erasing blood cancers from reality. It wasn’t always easy, but all I’d have to do was remember my dad, who had fought Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma three times and I’d keep going,” said Benton.
Braving an unusually cold, windy day in Indiana, Benton completed the 13.1 mile race in 2 hours 27 minutes. “As I stepped across the finish line a wave of emotion came over me. I couldn’t believe I’d actually done it. Here I was, a man who once weighed almost 500 pounds, crossing the finish line. In that moment all of the pain, frustration and lack of confidence that riddled me for years was gone. Crossing the finish line was like stepping into a new life, a life where I know I can do anything I put my mind to.”
When beginning his weight loss journey, Benton’s dress shirt size was 6XL and his pant size was 60, the largest size a person could buy in a big and tall store. To this day, Benton has lost more than 230 pounds. You can read more and follow his journey at danesgettingskinny.wordpress.com.
— Melissa Powers is a senior from Indianapolis, Ind., majoring in communication arts. Powers is an associate with Fifth Street Communications, writing on behalf of the Anderson University Office of University Communications.
Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,700 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2010, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the seventh consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing and theology.