Difficult COVID journey inspired Lockport man to lose 200 pounds

"They were preparing me for my heart to stop"
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Posted at 6:17 PM, Jan 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-07 18:25:36-05

LOCKPORT, NY (WKBW) — A Lockport man’s near-death COVID journey inspired him to loose 200-pounds.

Doctors say obesity remains a major risk factor for getting severe cases of COVID.

In fact, studies say you have a 46% higher risk of becoming very ill.

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Ben Fresch reflects on his weight loss journey.

“My lips were blue and I just knew something was wrong. My heart was beating very rapidly,” described Ben Fresch.

In December of 2020 Ben Fresch says he realized he needed to go to the hospital, fearing he had COVID.

“It was December 5, 2020, I never forgot that morning. I didn't want to get out of bed. I had the cold sweats and everything just felt off,” Fresch recalled. “It felt like there was a truck just sitting on my chest."

Fresch tested positive for COVID at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Amherst.

At 430-pounds, doctors told him his heart would stop.

Ben Fresch before his weight loss.

“I remember sitting there crying out to God and just saying God, this can't be,” reflected Fresch. "They were preparing me for my heart to stop and they told me that could be the end."

But Fresch survived COIVD after a long hospital stay and that's when his incredible health journey began.

The 28-year-old says he struggled his entire life with weight, so he first lost 60 pounds and stopped eating sugar.

“I still haven't eaten sugar. I don't miss it,” Fresch laughed.

Fresch sought the help of personal trainer and registered dietitian Zack Finney, also of Lockport, to help him lose even more weight and get in shape with strength training.

Personal trainer and registered dietitian Zack Finney.

“I think that was probably one of the more important things he was doing initially and then coming to me after he had already lost something like 60 pounds or so,” Finney said.

Just before the new year, Fresch lost 200 pounds and this past fall he even ran a half marathon.

Ben Fresch's transformation.

“It’s just about consistently doing a little bit more and more and more each time you come to the gym and so that's just the goal — that's what we've been working on from the beginning and that's what we are going to continue to do,” Finney.

And he just keeps going. Fresch says he's got about 30 more pounds he wants to lose, but will continue with his training.

“Seeing his transformation has really inspired me to do more,” remarked Finney.

Fresch says he has inspired his wife to lose weight as well.

“So between the two of us — we've lost 320 plus pounds,” Fresch replied.

Ben Fresch in strength training.

Fresch and Finney say they are teaming to help someone else transform into a health lifestyle. They are offering a free month of personal training and nutrition counseling. You can apply by clicking here for the application on Fresch’s web page.

Fresch says his fear of dying young from his COVID experience is what drove him to make these lifestyle changes.

“But being that close — it does something to you — it shakes you up,” responded Fresch.