Beating the Battle with the Bulge

By Matt Porter

October 5, 2012 Updated Oct 5, 2012 at 7:24 PM EDT

Endicott, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Chris Waters spends six days a week working out an hour each day.

But for the Johnson City native, life wasn't always so easy.

"All through junior high and high school, I was the chubby kid, I was always overweight," said the 42-year-old Waters.

Waters weighed more than 400 pounds at his peak, something that took a heavy toll on his body.

"I had high blood pressure, dangerously high blood pressure actually," Waters said. "A couple of times I was taken to the hospital because my blood pressure was pretty high."

Almost one in three Americans have high blood pressure according to a report released last month from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

And nearly half of them, 36 million, don't have it under control. Another 22 million don't even know they have it.

Gary James, director of BU's Institute for Primary and Preventative Health Care, said this is not uncommon for high blood pressure cases.

"It doesn't feel like anything," said James, "They really don't have any marked symptoms that something's wrong."

And it's becoming an epidemic.

High blood pressure is blamed for about 1,000 deaths each day in the United States. And it costs the health care system about $131 billion every year.

But unlike other diseases including cancer and HIV, it can be nearly eliminated in most people through diet and exercise.

"It's something that is indeed preventable and fixable by a lot of lifestyle changes," said James.

But, change, didn't come easy said Waters, now almost 150 pounds lighter since he started exercising.

"I could barely get through an hour," Waters said. "I would have to rest after ten minutes."

Now, he's a personal trainer and reminds others who's really in control.

"You have to make time for yourself," James said, "Because if you don't take time for yourself nobody else is going to take time for you."