by Sue Widemark
By BMI standards, Dave Alexander is 'morbidly obese' but actually in spite of his heavy weight, 270 lbs at 5' 8", Dave has done 277 triathlons since 1983, a feat in itself but even more interesting is that he is genetic for obesity (a BIG German). His body fat level is around 26 percent - 7 percent higher than what is expected for a male (males should be at 17-19 percent) and as much as TWENTY percent higher than athletes who compete as much as he does!
Researchers all over the world have studied Dave as he clearly shows that the prevailing idea about fat being death is a LIE! His blood pressure is a healthy 110/70 and his resting pulse rate is in the lower 60's. He was featured in a six-hour mini series made in Britain called "FAT - Exploding the Myths", which was shortened to an hour-long show, screened on PBS here in the United States and also in the book by Lisa Colles of the same title. He does motivational speaking all over the world and is often invited to speak on the same platform as another fat and fit hero, Stephen Blair (BMI = 40) whose landmark studies at the Cooper Institute have eroded the baloney from the diet industry.
I knew he lived in the West, but never expected to meet him personally!
Imagine my astonishment when in visiting a recumbent bike shop (a usual Sunday hang-out for us), I ran into him!
Here are the details: I was pulling up to the shop (located in this very small strip mall!) on my recumbent bicycle, and a very large guy who passed me by, turned and commented on my bike. I told him he should get a recumbent and he said that he was a "butt-@$$ed race bike rider". "With your build," said I, in politically correct terms, "You would be far more comfortable on a recumbent!"
"Oh," he said, "I don't RIDE bikes, I race them all over the world!"
I looked at him, all of him, unbelieving and said, "Well unless you are that guy who appeared in the TV program, 'FAT"..." (meaning to continue that there was NO WAY he was a bike racer because they are all built like pencils!)
Interrupting me, he said, "I am that guy!"
I asked his name and sure enough, it WAS Dave Alexander!
After his appointment (he was going to get a tan in preparation for the races he plans this summer), I got to interview him and ask a bunch of questions I'd wondered about.
Background: No, he didn't work out at all before 1983 and he was about the same weight he is now, in the 260's but when he started to train, he lost fat but gained a lot of muscle. Well, he did do some weight training, he told me and said at the age of 18, he could easily bench 350 and more. (He is BIG, I believe it!).
(I told him about Cheryl Haworth, another fat and healthy icon who as a sophomore in High School, weighs almost 300 lbs at 5' 7" and can bench more than her weight - our greatest hope for an Olympic weight lifting medal this year!).
He started training because some friends challenged him to do a short triathlon. He did it and finished it in a respectable time frame and said, "Cool, I can do this!" and was hooked.
He hasn't trained a lot in the past year due to a serious injury he got from running but is starting to train again.
On Sunday, the day we talked, he said, he had ridden his bike to Wickenburg and back (about 100 miles) and was planning to swim a mile that evening.
His hours are flexible because he is part owner of a rather large business but he still puts in the 60 hour weeks however, trains in the morning and the evenings (so much for any excuses we have of being 'too busy' to exercise!).
Since he travels a lot in his work, he has a racing bicycle which is foldable and can be put in a 27" by 27" by 10" box for easy shipping. He showed it to me (for an upright, it was pretty cool...of course, I love recumbents the best!) - he had it in the back of his van.
As they stated in the TV program, he does not modify his diet at all and from the way he winced when I told him I'd had no fast food or junk food since 1995, I would suspect he likes his pizza and steak. However, at 56 years old, he said he's thinking he maybe should modify his diet some but is not sure which way he wants to go. I suggested, of course, the sensible 'under 20 percent fat' diet.
I found Dave, whom Menís Health Magazine calls 'the world's fattest fit man' to be down to earth and friendly, a busy prominent business man who doesn't have a whole lot of time but took almost an hour (or more) to talk to an admirer. More important, he reminds us that large and fat is a genetic body type and not a disease and he is an inspiration to all those he meets.
Source:personal interview by Sue Widemark