I hope my story of what I did to lose weight and get in shape will be an encouragement to those who need it. While I did lose weight, it was more about getting in shape that I was interested in.

Here are some of the things I did to get in shape and lose weight.

Exercise
At more than 100 pounds overweight, I could not imagine getting out and running a marathon or anything close to that as an exercise program. I started off by walking around the block. It amazes me how many people won't do that simple thing. I too thought it would not help, but it was all I could do at the time. Now that I have done it and seen the results, I still have trouble convincing others that a few minutes of purposeful walking each day will help.

I then graduated to lifting light weights to try and build up some muscles. Your body burns more calories each day feeding muscle than it does fat. The more muscle you can build, the faster your metabolism and weight loss will be. I had only 8 pounds of weights that I used. I also started jumping rope to give me a more intense aerobic workout.

My whole routine would only take 30 minutes every other day. I could afford that amount of time and it wasn't long before I started to see things were progressing well.

More than 100 lbs overweightBecause I was looking at a lifestyle change instead of a quick fix, I did not set any goals for how quickly I needed to lose weight. I just plodded away at doing what I knew would be good for my body. After 6 months I had lost almost 40 pounds and knew it was time to ramp up my exercise intensity.

I began going to hour long aerobic exercise classes at the local park and later started running. Since then I have run almost 3000 miles (I keep a detailed log of every run). I have run a marathon, 8 or 10 half marathons and countless shorter races.

But start slow. Don't think you have to be running marathons to get in shape. If you are doing nothing now to help your health, then you will benefit greatly from a 10 minute walk around the block. Slowly extend it from there. Before starting to run you should do yourself a favor and visit a local running store for a gait analysis. They can let you know what type of shoes are best for you. They also have cool accessories that can make running a bit more enjoyable.

Diet
To start with I was not interested in dieting. The only thing I changed for many months was to switch from full sugar colas to diet colas. I wanted to get in shape, but I was not willing to change my diet early on. However getting in shape requires that you take care of the stuff you put in your body. To get in shape and lose weight you have to think about living and eating in a healthy way.

I began to see food as fuel. I did not starve myself, I just cut back a little bit at a time. I learned to not stuff myself at meals and that I only needed enough food to fuel my body. Previously I had always thought that the purpose of a meal was to make sure you would be alive for the next one. When I began to think about food as fuel I also started to realize that I was carrying more fuel than I needed. That helped me cut back on the volume I was eating.

By this point I was very active attending exercise classes 3 days a week and running 3 to 5 days a week. I needed fuel, but only enough to play well. Yes, I did see my running and exercise as play. It was no longer work.

Take Pictures
I have few pictures of how big I was when I started. However, I have dozens of pictures since. Most of them no one will ever see, but it is a big encouragement to me to look at the steps that got me to where I am now.

Measure Yourself
There are many ways of measuring your progress. Weighing yourself is just one way to see what is happening in your body. Once you start exercising you may gain a little weight while you are building muscle to replace the fat. If you only used the scale you could be easily discouraged.

I took body measurements at my neck, upper arm, chest, waist, hips, thigh and calf. I took these measurements once a week and recorded them on a 3X5 card. I dated the measurements along with recording my weight. Several week's worth of measurements went on a card which helped me see how I was doing over a few months. I kept track of the difference in inches and pounds from the previous week and from when I started.

Sometimes the scale would say I had gained, but my body measurements would say I had lost. I was more encouraged by the inches lost than the number on the scale.

Weigh Yourself
Though I took my main source of encouragement from the measurements, I still weighed myself. This is what worked for me, even though the experts say you should not do it this way: I weighed every day! Everyone says to only weigh once a week. But I wanted to know where I stood today compared to yesterday. The number challenged me. I was rarely discouraged even if it went up. If I was up I would chalk it up to "water weight." If I was down it was because "I worked hard for it."

Although I weighed daily, I only wrote my weight down once a week on my measurement cards. This allowed me to fluctuate during the week, but from one week to the next I was either down or stayed the same. Those are the numbers I have today on my permanent records.

Finishing the MarathonAccept Encouragement
When someone said they noticed I lost a little weight, I would gloat to my wife about it. I did not lose weight for other people, I wanted to get in shape for personal reasons. However, if anyone noticed and said something about it, I was thrilled! While I tried not to show it, inside I was beaming with pride knowing that I had worked hard and it was paying off.

Ignore the Naysayers
Along with the encouragement, there were plenty who were ready to throw cold water on me and my progress. I ignored them as much as I could. The worst were the comments like, "well, you must have a faster metabolism than me." I have been overweight since I started school, so I don't think my metabolism is above average. Another one that bothered me was, "men lose weight faster than women." That may be true, but the ones who were saying that were not getting up from the table to go walk around the block. I did not let them discourage me. I could be satisfied in knowing that I was working hard for my results.

Make it Work for You
I made exercise a part of my life. You don't need 2 hours a day to exercise. Find opportunities to walk 15 minutes more than you do currently. That will get you headed the right direction. You cannot lose weight and get in shape without work. But you don't have to spend 20 hours a week in the gym.

That is what I did to lose weight and get in shape. What are you going to do today and tomorrow to meet your healthy lifestyle goals?