East Bradenton man focuses on fellowship and accountability to stay fit.
Sabal Harbour’s Lesley Aulds ran alongside his 8-year-old son, Emmett, during Bridge of Life’s Superhero 5K in February.
Together they crossed the finish line, which is something Aulds thought he wouldn’t be able to do because of his weight.
“You can’t take things like [running in a race together] away,” Aulds said. “[He and I] will both have that forever, of being able to do that and finish together and everything.”
Before having gastric sleeve surgery in December of 2018, Aulds weighed 322 pounds. Gastric sleeve surgery removes 75%-80% of the stomach. He was on nine medications and just wanted to be healthier, so he could play with his son without running out of breath easily.
After surgery, he weighed 202 pounds, and he didn’t want to stop there. Aulds connected with members of F3 through Bayside Community Church. F3 is a national network of peer-led workouts for men. There’s a group in Lakewood Ranch that meets at Greenbrook’s Adventure Park.
“The guys in F3 are supportive not only with fitness but in general with everything,” Aulds said. “If you’re going through any kind of struggle, they’re there, and it’s a group that, to me, they don’t judge.”
Since then, Aulds has been going to Adventure Park to meet with 10 to 30 men of all ages who are part of F3. They use different parts of the park, such as picnic tables, giant tires and walking paths, to exercise.
He finds ways during the week to exercise on his own, whether it’s running around his neighborhood or doing boot camp type exercises at home or at the park.
“I use whatever I have,” he said. “I don’t go to a gym or anything like that.”
He’ll even take a walk during his lunch break at Mobydick North America to keep himself active throughout the day.
“I just feel great after getting a good workout, whether it’s running 5 miles or doing some calisthenics,” he said. “It’s amazing to be able to be fit again. It’s relieving that not only am I more fit, I’m healthier. I’m off all medicines but one.”
Making time to exercise each day can be a challenge, but Aulds keeps himself motivated by his desire to remain fit and healthy so he’s not overweight again.
Aulds said working out with a group helps with fellowship and accountability. His friends in F3 check in with him throughout the week to make sure he’s exercising.
Now at 220 pounds, Aulds can play soccer with his son. They can run around and swim together without having difficulty breathing or needing to take a break after a short period of time.
“It feels great to be fit and to also be able to share that with my son and be able to get out here and play around with him,” Aulds said. “He enjoys soccer, and I did too growing up, so it’s something else we share together. I can get out and run with him and teach him stuff that for a long time I couldn’t.”
Aulds even takes his son to F3 workouts Saturday mornings to encourage a healthy lifestyle at a young age.
“If you stay fit, you stay healthy,” he said.
Aulds and his son have signed up for the virtual Sarasota Laps for Life 5K in September.