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What I Did to Lose Weight and Get in Shape

By Edited May 30, 2015 16 42

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.

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 overweight
Because 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.

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 Marathon
Accept 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?



Nov 3, 2010 3:30am
Inspiring article
Nov 3, 2010 8:45am
Thanks dreamaker! I have told my story many times. Some people are inspired to get out and do something about their weight and health. Unfortunately most think that it is beyond their reach.
Nov 3, 2010 5:56am
Thank you for sharing!
My story of weight loss took place some years ago. I lost 16 kilos in two months! Doing two things:
a) Hard work, renovating a 100 year old stone house in France.
b) Eating less, on a diet based mainly upon fish (salmon)
Nov 3, 2010 8:46am
That is great askformore! I need to eat more fish and less junk. Still struggle with the diet end of it, but still exercising very regularly after 6 years of this.
Nov 3, 2010 6:28pm
Very inspiring article, I think this is great stuff here! I think it's important for the average person to understand that the smallest things can make a huge impact and to not set your expectations too high but to relax and see each little step as a big victory. Thank you for writing this and sharing - it makes me want to try harder to get out there and off of my "duff"!
Nov 3, 2010 9:23pm
I know some people are very motivated by goals. That is wonderful if that is the way you are wired. I tend to get discouraged by goals. While I had big, overarching goals in the process, I took one element out that really helped me. That was TIME. I had a certain weight that I wanted to achieve, but I did not limit myself on WHEN I had to get to that weight. In the past I have set a time goal and when I saw that I was not going to achieve it, I just gave up. This time around I removed the time element and just plodded along.

I enjoyed writing this and I hope it can be an encouragement to others.
Nov 4, 2010 3:58pm
very nice story all good points
Nov 4, 2010 4:44pm
Thank you! It has been a good journey. I know there are differing opinions on some of these items, but this is what worked for me.
Nov 16, 2010 6:09am
cool, very inspiring! Especially when working online it is easy to forget about getting enough exercise, thanks for this article!
Nov 16, 2010 8:31am
I know I struggle in some ways when I think about doing "just one more thing." Next thing I know, half the morning is gone and I haven't moved from my seat. Even knowing what is right, and seeing the success of it, does not mean that you always accomplish it.

Thanks for the comment.
Nov 16, 2010 10:43am
oh boy do I know what you mean there... It is just too easy to keep on writing, or linking, or posting comments or reading forums... :-s
Nov 17, 2010 8:45am
I have no chance to skip my daily walk with my little one year and half girl! First thing she does every morning after she wake up - is to point to the window and yield: "the park, the park". The upside and also the downside is that the park is just at 15 steps away from our home.
Nov 17, 2010 3:36pm
We live near a very large park. The track around it is 1.4 Miles long (2.3 Km). My daughter wants to go over there every day with me so I can go running while she plays. Kids help keep us moving.
Nov 17, 2010 8:46am
Very very inspiring article. Thanks for sharing!
Nov 29, 2010 6:22am
Thumbs up! This is inspiring indeed. I like how you never set any goals. Setting goals is great but can be discouraging if you don't meet them (i.e. maybe due to injuries). Letting your progress take its own course. Keeping track of your progress is a great idea. Good to refer to for inspiration. Also I like how you had focus on getting in shape rather than loosing weight. Excellent job!
Nov 29, 2010 6:39am
Thanks. The whole goals issue is something that I think each person has to figure out on their own. I am motivated by goals, but devastated when I don't accomplish them. Peer pressure is a better motivator for me. Getting into exercise classes where I felt obligated to be there or everyone would notice I was gone kept me going. I also found forums that had a strong community. Stating my progress to them helped keep me accountable.

Thanks for the comment.
Nov 29, 2010 8:22am
Superb article. This describes my own situation exactly and I will set this as my IB home page to find fresh inspiration each day. Thank you
Nov 29, 2010 3:32pm
Glad it helps Philtrate. I probably need to read it often my own self.
Jan 4, 2011 12:11am
Very inspiring story, and a fabulous choice to be a featured article. Thank you for sharing it with us!
Jan 4, 2011 5:20am
Thanks Deborah-Diane, it works out to be a great New Year article.
Jan 4, 2011 12:13am
great article. I think your closing comment that you don't need 2 hours a day to exercise is spot on. Little changes here and there can make all the difference. Fantastic to read your inspiring story
Jan 4, 2011 5:23am
Thanks LouisLovesLouis. I think too many people have an "all or nothing" approach to getting in shape. I used to think the same thing.
Jan 4, 2011 6:40am
Great article dpeach! I saw you on the forums today and then when I saw your article was featured I had to read it. And it is very timely. Both my husband and I are starting to do some things to change our health and this was quiet encouraging as my husband has more than 200 lbs. to lose.
Jan 4, 2011 7:15am
Great! I hope it will be an encouragement as you change your lives. One thing I did differently this time around was to think of this as a change of lifestyle instead of a plan to lose weight. I started this journey over 6 years ago and won't go back to what I was. I can't say that it has always been easy, but I don't want to be the man I used to be.
Jan 4, 2011 9:02am
Definitely a great article and a huge encouragement. Many times you have people saying there are easy ways to lose weight or that all you have to do is stop eating so much. It can be really frustrating. I lost 30 pounds in 2010 using the opposite approach. I hate dieting so I just cut back how much I eat and cut back on stuff I know is bad for me. This year I am adding the exercise cause I have about 80 pounds to go (though it is more about being healthy).

Congratulations! (definitely didn't mean to make it all about me!). You definitely did a great job sharing your story in a very inspiring way...
Jan 4, 2011 11:01am
No problem! Thanks for sharing a bit of your story too.
Jan 4, 2011 9:10am
Congrats! This is such an awesome article.
Jan 4, 2011 11:02am
Thank you Missy! It is an encouragement to me to have you say so.
Jan 4, 2011 10:18am
Congratulations on achieving a healthier body and sticking with your plan, this is a well deserved feature and I'll bet it will help many people to find their own way to lose weight this year:)
Jan 4, 2011 11:04am
Thanks vetochemicals! I hope it does help others.
Jan 4, 2011 10:53am
Congrats on your front page article and also an inspiring one. SImple changes do add up! I exercise five days a week and get up at the crack of dawn to do it. We eat natural foods, even though the cheaper preservative kind would save money. If you can't read it, don't eat it!

The moral is slow and steady wins the race...and drops the pounds...and becomes healthy!
Jan 4, 2011 11:05am
Well said. You don't have to start out trying to do everything at once. It takes consistent, deliberate changes to change your lifestyle.
Jan 4, 2011 2:35pm
Great honest article, thanks! I like that you dont do goals- neither do i they are too devasting when not accomplished. Instead I practice what works for me, and love to read about what works for others. Very inspiring and can be applied to other life solutions too.
Jan 4, 2011 3:45pm
Thanks footloose. I certainly don't mean to imply that goals are bad. In this case, they were not the right thing for me.

Thanks for the comment.
Jan 5, 2011 12:20am
What an awesome article! Thanks for sharing your story and inspiring others to get in shape. Congratulations, this article deserves front page recognition.
Jan 5, 2011 8:06pm
Thank you southerngirl09
Jan 5, 2011 5:38pm
Congrats on making the front page. Nicely done article and inspiring to many. Great job!
Jan 5, 2011 8:08pm
Thank you for reading and commenting weianow.
Jan 10, 2011 3:32am
Signed in only because wanted to post GREAT article! Kept me reading to the end & I have a VERY short attention span. Congrats on weight loss and an inspiring article. The only question I have is how long did it take? And if you have been running since 2006 (per author info) then is this article 4 years old & just now being featured? Or did you lose the weight over 6 years ago, as you obviously from the article did not become an avid runner when you first started exercising?
Jan 10, 2011 6:52am
Thanks for the comment kmf-.

I lost the majority of the weight in less than a year and did not start running until I had already lost quite a bit. Though I don't say in the article, I lost 90 pounds in total. To lose all of that it took me about a year and a half (just a few months after I started running). This article was written in Nov. 2010.

Thanks for reading and commenting.
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