A Year’s Worth of Exercise

A year ago I weighed 352 lbs and decided to change my life. A year ago I had been “trying” to lose weight for several months only to be continually derailed. Derailed or sabotaged. A year ago I didn’t know how hard this was going to be. A year ago I didn’t know how good “this” felt.

Here is my journey over the past year, sharing how I shed and lost my weight thus far.

The Work

“Do or do not, there is no try.”

The workouts began simply, I walked on the treadmill. Not a casual stroll though, I cranked it up to a fast walk (up to 4mph) which quickly had me sweating, and I did that for 30-45 minutes. I did this nearly every night for the first few weeks. Every evening after work or morning after getting up on the weekend I would head to the apartment complex gym and use the treadmill. I found that I really enjoyed walking on the treadmill and reading e-books, so that was my way of passing the time. Simply walking fast attained much of the results you see here. Well, walking fast and eating less crap (but not zero crap.) I’ll talk about food later.

Along with walking one of the things I was most excited about in Seattle was going hiking. I don’t have complete tracking but I did a fair bit of day hiking around Seattle and logged over 40 miles of hikes for the year.

When Summer arrived in Seattle, the weather turned gorgeous and I decided to take advantage of my short commute to work (just over 2 miles) and bike to work. Biking was nice, the ride to work was easy with a large downhill to give me lots of momentum to start, and only one uphill segment for an overpass near the office. The ride home was the bear because of the giant hill and it took a few weeks before I was capable of biking up it. With biking though I laid off the walking, so progress slowed.

Then in September I went to the gym to see how far I could run, I expected to get to a half mile and stop, but then I reached the distance and kept going. I hit 0.75 miles and kept going. Then I hit a mile and hit stop out of shock. As I said in the post ‘Learning to Run‘ – as far as I know, I never ran a full mile before, ever. That was a big milestone for me, but it also was such an accomplishment that I let my foot off the gas and despite attaining a new level, saw a backslide.

This led me to set the goal for November to do my “RuMiDaMo” where I ran a mile for everyday of the month. I felt it was fitting since November was already a month of challenges such as NaNoWriMo and Movember. That was an awesome challenge and really felt like a new level.

After that month of daily runs I discovered I had upped my ability to running a full two miles. But with that came a concern about pushing too hard, so I slacked off a bit and took to running roughly three times a week, but without it being everyday I missed more runs and again felt my progress slow.

And that’s where I am, in a year I went from walking 2-3 miles to being able to run 2 miles.

The Food

“One should eat to live, not live to eat.”

For this first year, I made strides to simply “eat better.” I cut way back on non-diet sodas, at least cutting those calories if not all the other crap. Largely I set my diet around the following two anchors:

Breakfast was a smoothie. Its contents varied a bit, but the core of it was a banana and strawberry smoothie. Eventually I came to the final concoction which I’m quite happy with. The final recipe is: Spinach, Strawberry, Banana, dry oatmeal, and whey protein with milk. The whey protein helps it hold me through the morning.

I also relied on a morning snack of almonds, I keep in the desk at work. Almonds are potentially high calorie so you have to manage the quantity you eat, but they are also very good for you.

For lunch I relied on a noodle bowl. This is one of those “the devil you know” sort of things. This lunch is “fine” in terms of healthiness, but it accomplished some very important things:

  1. Be quick to prepare
  2. Be cheap
  3. Be tasty
  4. Hold me through the afternoon

The noodle bowl was a store bought (from Trader Joe’s initially, though we’ve since found it at Fred Meyers) under the brand Annie Chun’s Teriyaki bowl. Basically an upscale ramen bowl. To that I add broccoli and chicken.

Dinner was the shared meal with my wife, so it was much more fluid. We ate whatever we wanted (within reason). Pizza, meat loaf, sometimes chili, or we would go out and eat sushi etc.

And through out all of that I still battled with my sweet tooth and my penchant for gorging. In many ways it is an addiction for me. Hand me a giant bucket of popcorn and a movie and I’ll do my best to plow through it. Giant bag of Starburst? Yep. Basket of snacks for a two hour meeting? I better sit as far from it as possible. Doughnuts? NOM.

I would say my success was largely accomplished despite my food habits. Sure I made strides to improve it, but I would say I still have a fair ways to go.

The Result

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

So here we are, it’s time to show the cards. I present to you, a side by side of change.


A few notes:

  1. Sorry for the watermark but it’s necessary as I learned. Websites, fitness sites, and spam sites, love gobbling up the side by side progress photos and not giving credit or presenting them as evidence for whatever they’re selling. I had a side by side I shared earlier this year posted to MSN without credit to me (or others in the list).
  2. The right photo is actually a few days ago, and a few pounds heavier but I don’t think you’d see a 2 lb. difference. It was also taken after a two mile run so pardon the horrible look on my face.

Now for the nitty-gritty. I weighed myself 86 times over this past year. Allowing me to share this chart of progress with you all.




Some stats:

  • Total weight lost so far – 67.8 lbs
  • Average weight lost per day – 0.19lbs (1.33 lbs / week)
  • Best month – January 2012, lost 17 lbs
  • Worst month – October, due to a work trip that complete derailed my progress

You’ll see that there are numerous points on this chart which go up and not down. This was not a simple downward journey, many times I’d misstep and pay for it on the scale. The thing to understand is that fitness is a war that’s only over once you declare it over, until that day it’s just a series of battles. And you can lose an infinite number of battles so long as you keep trying you can still win the war. As you’ll see, despite the numerous jumps in weight, I won this year’s war. Just keep on working and fighting.

The Future

“Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.”

My goal for 2012 was to lose 75 lbs, I think my goal for 2013 is to lose a total of 40lbs, but I’ll actually lose more as I add muscle.

I’ve been tracking my body fat percentage for much of last year making use of a handheld device which measures it. It’s far from perfect and those results are far less interesting given that I haven’t tracked it for all of 2012. I’ll be tracking it continuously for 2013 and hope to really see marked change on it for next year.

One thing lacking from this past year was weight training. I did a little but nothing major and never set down to make it a core element of my workout. I will begin adding it to the workouts for 2013. I’m also going to begin doing road races, though only casually. I had hoped to do them in 2012 but obviously did not. My first road 5k is the St. Pat’s Dash here in Seattle. I’m also eyeing the Run For Your Lives race up here in August and possibly a Mud Run. I’m eager to resume hiking once the weather cooperates and hopefully do some overnight trips with some friends! Along with that I’d love to start doing other stuff like rock wall climbing and maybe adding a martial art to the list (there’s a Krav Maga studio near the house.)

Eating-wise I am eager to turn it up to the next level. I think the smoothie breakfast is good though I may refine it some more. My main focus is to experiment and research other lunch meals that are healthier. I’m setting a 30 day challenge for January where I drink nothing but water (or milk with morning smoothie.) Water can be by itself or as tea, but I’ll cut out all sodas completely for 30 days. Should be interesting.

The Thanks

This progress wouldn’t have been possible without my support team. At the heart of that team is my wife who has been supportive the whole way even going so far to be the pushy coach to make sure I hit my goals and didn’t miss workouts.

Along with her though are two very important people, my younger sister Charlotte and my brother Adam. With them as major motivators who also spent this year exercising and sharing our progress with each other they are the main driver behind my continued success and indeed for getting this ball rolling.

Also all of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers who cheered me on and joined me in this journey as I’ve posted about it.

Thanks to you all, I’m eager to update you all again down the road! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off for a run.

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