You probably clicked this article hoping for a secret easy way to lose weight. Unfortunately I don’t have some big secret, however, I hope you will enjoy my story. I think it will show you that you can lose a siginifcant amount of weight, change your life, and have a great time doing it. If you read to the end I will give you some unsolicited advice on how you can make similar changes in your life.
How I Got Fat
I am a Colorado Native, who grew up in the Colorado Springs area. I have always been a husky guy. My parents love the mountains, and we spent lots of time playing in the great outdoors when we were kids. This level of outdoor activity kept my weight somewhat in check.
After College I was lucky enough to land a great job with Lockheed Martin. The unfortunate darkside of this job was that it meant long hours of sitting in front of a computer. After the long day I would come home crack a beer and plop down in front of the tv. This pattern of course, led to pound after pound slowly sneaking onto my body. I moved to Caste Rock, and my level of activity continued to decrease. I had somehow all but forgotten my love for the outdoors. It was now replaced with a love of food and TV.
The pounds kept piling on and I had just resigned myself to being a ‘Fat Guy’. In the fall of 2009 I was staring 300lbs in the face. That was a scary prospect. I started to make some small changes which resulted in losing a few pounds over the next few months. In March of 2010, a routine doctor’s visit noted that my blood pressure was getting pretty high for my age.
I started thinking about the fact that I was working hard to invest money for my retirement, but I was not investing anything in my health to ensure I could enjoy my retirement. The time had come to deal with the problem.
How I Fixed It
I knew from past experience that a diet and gym was a path to long term failure. So instead I tracked my calories and analyzed my life to figure out what the biggest problems were. Slowly I made small changes that I knew I would be able to live with for the rest of my life. This included reducing how often we were eating out, adding in healthy fresh food, and giving up alcohol. Of course another obvious problem was my completely sedintary lifestyle. Having a unique distain for hours on the hamster wheel (treadmill), I knew I needed to be active outdoors in order to have success. I knew I used to love hiking, golf, and riding my bike. So I started out slow with some easy hikes. I increased the amount of time I spent outside by 10 fold. I didn’t worry about what I was doing, as long as I was being active and enjoying myself. Sure enough the pounds began to slowly slip off.
My first symptoms of the 14er bug bite appeared mid summer 2010. I had been on 14ers as a teenager, and I remembered how much fun it was. I set a goal to get in shape to climb 14ers, and so I began training. I was still really out of shape, and I thought tackling a 14er that year would be irresponsible. Instead I set a year long set of goals that would get me in good enough shape to enjoy myself and be safe. I started with 3-5 mile hikes in the foothills around Castle Rock. At first it was 300’-400’ elevation gain per hike. By the October I was 50 pounds lighter and able to do the infamous Manitou incline in a little over an hour.
I also read and researched to keep motivated. I bought “Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills” and spent a lot of time studying it. I checked out dozens of climbing books from the library. One of them I particularly enjoyed was Halfway to Heaven. I enjoyed it enough that I got my wife Angela to read it as well. After months of hearing me babble I could tell that she to was getting intrigued by climbing. Halfway to Heaven talks a lot about the website 14ers.com . I joined the site and found a great community of local hikers and climbers that were very motivated to climb the mountains that surround us.
Throughout the winter I continued to hike, and we got back into snowboarding. We bought microspikes and snowshoes so that we would be able to stay out in the winter conditions. By January I had shed 70 pounds and I knew climbing would be much easier this summer. I wanted to increase my cardio capacity so in February I started the Couch to 5k running program. I completed my first 5k at the beginning of April. The training was tough, but I could really feel the difference when I was out on the trail.
Where Am I At Today
In March I bought a new bike, and really got into cycling as well. I found it to be my second favorite activity behind hiking. It was also much easier to do on a daily basis, and again I noticed a difference in my endurance on the trail. By mid summer I was riding 30 miles on the bike, had run a sub 30 minute 5k, had a 47 minute time on the Incline, and was hiking harder and harder trails with increasing ease.
In July I finally stood on top of a 14er. The mighty Mt Elbert, the tallest one in Colorado. All the training had really paid off, and the hike went better than expected.
For us the journey is just beginning. There are more mountains in Colorado than I can hope to climb in my lifetime. Many of them are far beyond my current technical and physical abilities. This means I have many years to get in progressively better shape. Which is now an exciting prospect.
I have lost a total of 112 pounds since September of 2009. Here is a picture of me on July 4th.
So I wouldn’t want to leave you with out some lessons I learned along the way.
- There are two types of pain. The pain of discipline and hard work, and the pain of regret. The first pain is temporary and will be replaced by the pleasure of accomplishment. The latter will eat at you for a long time in a very uncomfortable way.
- You won’t be successful unless you set goals. You need to set some really lofty long term goals. Something that seems almost impossible. Then set lots of intermediate goals that when combined will get you to your big goal. This gives you plenty of successes to celebrate along the way. You need to move slowly, but at the same time push yourself hard. You will soon be amazed at what you can do.
- Find a motivated partner that has similar goals if possible. Victory is even sweeter when you have someone to celebrate it with.
- Make small incremental changes in your life. Every few weeks look at your habits and try to eliminate the worst of what you are doing. Make better bad choices, and make all of the changes permanent. Small changes coupled with a lot of time lead to some really big results.
- I know this isn’t going to be popular, but you should drastically reduce your alcohol intake.
- Alcohol is full of bad calories.
- It reduces your body’s ability to metabolize fat. Your liver learns to prefer it as fuel, and stores fat.
- You are far more likely to make poor food choices after drinking.
- Even a small amount of alcohol the night before a big activity will reduce your peak performance. A lot of alcohol, and you will probably just stay in bed instead of hitting the trail.
- Alcohol messes with your sleep, and dehydrates you. Sleep and hydration should be top priorities for anyone seeking a fitter lifestyle.
- The things we think will make us happy in the short term, are really the enemies of our long term happiness. When the alarm goes off on a cold day, I feel as if nothing would make me happier than shutting it off and skipping my workout. Once I get going and complete the workout I have a much happier day than if I had chose to stay in bed. The same is true with your food choices. Even though it seems that second cookie is really what you want, it is the enemy of your long term happiness.
- Take advantage of techology. I used several Iphone apps to help me with my weightloss. I track all of my workouts using runkeeper, I track and analyze my food using my fitness pal, and foducate.
- Don’t go on a diet, but do work to make healthy food choices. You should not deprave yourself or follow a strict diet. That does not mean you don’t need to change your eating habits. It takes work to find healthy foods that you like It is completly possible to enjoy your food and feel satisisfied while loosing weight. Food is the fuel your body needs to rebuild itself so learn about and pay atenttion to what and how much you eat.