Tuesday, August 20, 2013


Most of this post was written at the end of March. Why did I never release? Who knows.

On January 7th, I started a weight loss competition at work. The goal was for your team of 3 to each lose 10 lbs in 10 weeks. I was close to my highest weight ever (245) and my body fat percentage was depressing (25%). I really wanted a change.

I had not biked much in the second half of 2012 after being hit by a car and I put in a fair amount of time studying and writing a dissertation for my FSA. At the end of Seussical, one of TLC's friends asked if I was using a fake belly on stage...I was not. Ouch.

I set a goal on January 7th to hit 200 by July 4th. Go big or go home, right?

It was quite clear early on in the competition that I was doing well, but someone else was doing much, much better. Over those ten weeks, I had a singular focus: be the biggest loser.

Here's what I did:

Week One: I started counting calories with MyFitnessPal and started biking to work again. I was too heavy for my summer road bike so I toughed it out on my heavier winter bike.

Week Two: I purchased a BodyMedia Fit. I knew how many calories I was taking in, but I had no idea how many calories I was expending on an average day or by biking. Cliché, but this little device has changed my life.

Week Three: The BodyMedia data quickly told me that I was only burning about 400-500 calories during my bike commute instead of the 750 that I expected. Even worse, my metabolic equivalents (METs) were never high enough on the bike to qualify for vigorous activity. I'd only get METs around 4.5, or 7.5 calories per minute. So I thought I'd go jogging a few times to see how vigorous that was. Turns out that my METs were about 9.0; I burn 15 calories per minute of light jogging. I've never been a runner, but I decided right then that it was time to start.

Week Four: I start to incorporate weight training. I've enjoyed weights since high school, but I never had a very good program. I downloaded JeFit on my phone and started following the beginners routine. I noticed HUGE gains in just a few weeks so I switched over to the intermediate program.

Week Five: By this time I was actively following a couch to 10k program. Over 25 sessions (2-3 per week) I gradually went from being exhausted running five 3-minute intervals (split by 3-minute walks) to easily running for an hour straight. Around week 5 I decided to sign up for a half-marathon in June.

Week Six: I purchased "Zombies, Run". That's probably the best $4 purchase of my life. It's a running game app with an extremely well-written story. You are Runner 5, gathering supplies, outrunning zombies, and saving humanity all while going for a jog around town. The best part is the Zombie Chase - two or three times per episode you need to increase your pace 20% over 45-60 seconds to outrun a zombie horde. So you get the added benefit of HIIT! Nothing has ever inspired me so much to be active.

Weeks Seven, Eight, Nine: I keep going. I'm now light enough for my summer bike again (yeah!) and I'm consistently about 3-5 pounds behind the biggest loser in the competition.

Week Ten: I stop lifting to minimize the muscle mass gains, fast most of the weekend, and give up water the day before the weigh-in. Closest I'll ever feel to a wrestler.

Final weigh-in: I was down 29.5 lbs. The other guy? 28.5.


I got a $50 REI gift card for my victory.

Update: July 4th has come and gone and I managed to get down to 197.5 lbs with a body fat of 14%. BOOM! I have a marathon on September 28th and still use all of the apps mentioned (though less religiously).


  1. Before and after picture? Congratulations!!

  2. I have to thank you for this post. I forwarded it to Jonathan and since the end of August he has been exercising and counting calories. He's lost 18 pounds (out of his 50 lbs goal) so far.

    1. DeAnn, I am speechless! I'm so happy for Jonathan! Sounds like he's well on his way and I'm glad I could help in some small way.