As a teenager, Lee Jordan, 50, weighed in at a healthy 165 lbs. But, during his 20s, Jordan piled on the pounds until he weighed 453 lbs, eating anywhere from 8,000 to 12,000 calories of food per day. Currently, thanks to the help of the love of his life, he has dropped his weight down to 178 lbs. and he has a 34-inch waist, down from the 72-inch waist he once had.
Reconnecting in 2008 with his high school sweetheart, Beth Schwein, after more than 20 years, was the catalyst that he needed to motivate him to become less obese by losing weight and turning his life around. Today, the couple are married and operate a fitness company in Jacksonville Beach, Florida.
Jordan had not told Beth how much weight he had gained when they met at a Starbucks. He had just told her he’d put on some weight and he’d lost some hair, rather than tell her outright exactly how obese he’d become since he’s last seen her.
Instead of the shock, pity, or horror he expected to see when he looked into Beth’s eyes, he says that he saw in them “nothing but love and acceptance.”
Powerfully affected by his meeting with her, Lee vowed to himself to turn his life around.
At the time he reunited with Beth in 2008, Jordan had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, full-blown diabetes, sleep apnea, and lung disease. Jordan had also been hooked up to an oxygen supplying machine at his home, and an oxygen canister during his work hours.
Lee Jordan and Beth Schwein originally met each other in 1979 when they were high school students in Washington through a church youth group. They planned to get married after they finished college at Radford University in Virginia; however, they broke up, and their romance didn’t have a chance to flower until they met each other again when Jordan was at his heaviest.
According to Jordan, he began turning more and more toward food after the split-up, trying to find the comfort and love that was now lacking in his life through eating junk food.
Jordan typically would eat no “less than two large pizzas,” which he would follow by consuming a “super-size large family bag of Doritos.” This was just for starters; then, he would eat “two large tubs of dip, two large boxes of cookies and a half-gallon of ice cream.”
In 2004, an aunt’s dying wish made Beth, who was experiencing a less than satisfactory marriage, decide to send Lee a letter filling him in on what had been going on in her life, letting him know that she had gotten married and had a family. She also said that their love had been true and she apologized for any hurt feelings that might exist between the two of them.
After breaking her back in a rollerblading accident years earlier, rather than having surgery, Beth did strength exercises and worked with a personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise and taught herself how to walk all over again.
Happy with the success she had recovering from her broken back, Beth went a step further, getting herself certified as a fitness expert.
With the guidance and encouragement of Beth, who was married to someone else at the time they reunited in 2008, Jordan lost enough weight to qualify for gastric bypass surgery. Beth decided to use the knowledge and skills she’d gained in becoming a fitness expert to help Lee lose weight and get back his health.
The road back to health from being obese and within two years of dying if he’d continued his old eating habits and lack of exercise was not an easy one for Jordan. He lost 275 pounds, exercising like a maniac, putting in miles on a treadmill or working out on a Stairmaster every day, and he ate only 600 to 900 calories a day.
Then, realizing how unrealistic and unhealthy it was to lose weight in the way he had been doing, Jordan gained all of his old weight back, becoming as obese as he ever had been.
Lee Jordan recommitted himself to following a more sensible and healthy diet and exercise program. Jordan hired an ACE trainer and began slowly, with a walking program. He started out walking just for 30 seconds at a time.
According to Jordan, Beth told him “if you show up, you win.”
After Beth got a divorce from her husband, Jordan proposed to her in the very same Starbucks that they had reunited at four years previously. She and Jordan got married in 2012.
Together now, the happy couple are both ACE-certified trainers. They own and operate Beth’s Boot Camp in Jacksonville, Florida, a program designed specifically for women, and they now participate in athletic events like half-marathons, 10ks, and triathlons, and all of Lee Jordan’s health problems that he once had are things of the past.
Written by: Douglas Cobb