Escaping ‘diet hell’ – book emerges out of Elk River man’s journey from obesity to 6-pack
Russ Branjord wears his wedding ring on the middle finger of his left hand because it would fall off if he wore it on his ring finger.
He could have it resized, but the oversized ring is a symbol of the victory he’s won in his battle against weight. And, the ring often serves as an opener to talk to others about how he achieved lasting weight loss.
Branjord, of Elk River, lost 100 pounds in 11 months when he was in his 20s. He shared what worked for him in his 2006 book, “Spike Diet,” which went on to show up on the top 100 sales chart for weight loss books on Amazon a few times.
Now age 40 and still fit and trim, Branjord has just released a new book, “Spike Diet X: Obese to Six Pack: How I Escaped ‘Diet Hell.’ ”
Although he was active and athletic (he played semi-pro football while in his 20s), Branjord said he struggled with obesity from an early age growing up in Hugo, Minnesota. He hit 200 pounds before his 13th birthday. Middle school in particular was awful, as he was bullied and teased because of his weight.
Branjord said he tried everything to lose weight and keep it off, but success eluded him. By age 26, he weighed 330 pounds and said he was on his way to 400.
“At 26 I gave up. I was tired of fighting it and trying so hard but not getting anywhere, like a rat on a wheel. I convinced myself that I would be happier if I would just accept who I am, that genetically this is who I was meant to be,” he said.
But while on a family vacation on the North Shore, Branjord was holding his young son one day and thinking about his future, wondering what he would tell him if he, too, went on to become obese and wanted to lose weight.