Five months ago, Don Banno decided it was time to make some changes. He was close to having to use a cane because of joint problems. Even short distance walking was difficult. He was also an insulin-dependent diabetic.
“I’ve been fighting weight problems since I was 21 or 22 years of age,” says Banno.
His daughter, Barbara, owner of Stella’s restaurant in downtown Gulfport, had started a fitness program, and she was seeing great results.
“I decided to try the program because Barbara started it, and she’s been very successful,” says Banno. “In order to dance at my grandkids’ weddings, I figured I had to do something.”
Banno began the program at Burg Crossfit in downtown St. Petersburg, working with a personal trainer for the first six weeks and a health coach to get in the right mindset. Each fitness session lasted for an hour with 30-second breaks between exercises.
“At first I had to stop before beginning each new exercise,” he says. “But each program is specifically designed for the individual. It’s not your typical exercise program. Instead, you use your own body weight to do the exercises.”
The owner of Burg Crossfit is a nutritionist who worked with Banno to develop healthier eating habits.
“In addition to the fitness, my eating habits changed dramatically. I began buying healthy, prepared microwaveable meals on a weekly basis that are well-balanced and about 700 to 800 calories,” says Banno. “Being Italian, giving up pasta was difficult, but I don’t miss it as much now as I first did.”
A typical day’s meals now consist of three eggs, bacon and one piece of toast for breakfast. At around 3 p.m. he eats a piece of fruit and some nuts. He has one of the prepared meals for dinner and drinks a chocolate protein shake around 8 or 9 p.m.
“I have to eat more to burn more calories. I’m replacing fat with muscle so the weight loss numbers are not dramatic at the beginning,” he says.
Banno began seeing real results and says he has lost a minimum of 20 to 25 pounds, plus three inches off his arms and four inches off his thighs. After the initial program was completed, he joined the gym to continue working with the personal trainer he started with. He now attends group classes three days a week.
Banno was even featured in a video on the national Crossfit website that garnered 864,000 views and 10,000 supportive comments. He volunteered to be a spokesman for the program and is thinking about starting a senior Crossfit group at the gym.
“But most importantly, my overall health has improved. I’m no longer huffing and puffing. I was able to cut the amount of insulin I take by 50 percent. There is a 100 percent difference in the way I feel,” says Banno. “The way I walk, the way I feel is key for me. That’s how I know it’s been successful.”