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Russ L'HommeDieu: 'Think better, eat better, move better'

Russ L'HommeDieu, a 41-year-old from Cutchogue, went from

Russ L'HommeDieu, a 41-year-old from Cutchogue, went from 410 pounds to 180 after completely altering his lifestyle.

Who: Russ L'HommeDieu, 42
Town: Cutchogue
Occupation: Physical therapist and betterness coach

Height: 6'1"
Weight before: 410 (May 2002)
Weight after: 180 (May 2009)

His story: After being "a big guy" all his life, Russ L'HommeDieu was told in 2003 he was prediabetic. Soon after the diagnosis, he decided to undergo a lap-band surgery. He lost 100 pounds before the surgery and then another 100 pounds afterward.

But about a year after the surgery, he was hit with an infection that landed him in the emergency room. Although doctors said the infection was unrelated to the lap band, they removed it as a preventive measure.

Statistically, everyone who has their band removed gains the weight back and then some, L'HommeDieu said. As he feared, his weight started to creep back up.

"I had a decision to make - I was either going to resign myself to being a heavy person or really look at what the problem was," he said. He chose the latter. Through a process of awareness, acceptance, action, assimilation and adaptation - steps he uses with clients today as a "betterness coach" - by 2007, he was down to 180 pounds, a weight he maintains today.

What he eats: Most of it used to come "from a bag or a can," L'HommeDieu said. "I didn't care if the food was good; I just wanted a lot of it."

Today his food philosophy closely resembles what Michael Pollan preaches in his book, "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto" (Penguin, $15): "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

L'HommeDieu eats very few processed foods, cooks often and tries to appreciate food's flavors and sensations, he said. He also tries a new food every week.

Workouts: "Before I lost the weight, my exercise was getting off the couch and getting something to eat," L'HommeDieu said.

When he changed his life, exercise went from being something he tried hard to avoid, to something he just does.

Most mornings he wakes up at 4 a.m. and does 15 minutes of yoga. Then he dons a wet suit, takes a quick run to a nearby community beach, gets in his kayak and paddles for 300 breaths, or about 45 minutes.

His routine also includes rock climbing, cycling and walking.

Advice: L'HommeDieu says he doesn't go a week without trying to find something that he can do better, a practice he recommends for others.

"Think better, eat better, move better," he said. "If you do those three things, you get to stay better."

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