Climbing Back on that Horse after a Rough Fall

Way back in March of 2006, I was coming down the home stretch of earning my Associates Degree in Architectural Drafting and Design. I had spent most of my life around the woodworking industry and felt that it was in my best interest to leverage my experience and find a position drafting and designing woodwork and cabinetry.

I paid a visit to a former employer, one who I worked for through a co-op program in high school, and inquired about a position in the drafting department. As expected, my experience in the field lead to a quick hire and I’ve been an employee there for the past nine years.

For the past nine years I have been sitting behind a desk for a minimum of forty hours per week. It wasn’t until I purchased a Jawbone UP that I realized what sort of impact that had on my life. I was barely moving throughout the day and, as you would imagine, I packed on a bunch of excess weight.

When my daughter came along, I found that playing with her left me winded and tired. ‘Just a minute sweetie, Daddy needs a quick break’. Enough was enough and I was going to do something about it. I signed up for a MyFitnessPal account and began tracking my intake. With some adjustments and a lot of calorie cutting, I began to loose weight.

I don’t recall how much weight I lost but I felt good about myself. I had a long road ahead of me but I could see the path and had a clear goal in mind. When progress began to slow, I began adding cardio into the mix. The weight loss picked back up again and before long I was pushing harder and longer.

Around this time I was introduced to the Insanity Workout by Beachbody. A friend from Stogie Review sent me a copy, free of charge, and I dove right in. While the workout was intense and could be done in the comfort of my small living room, I was becoming frustrated. The high impact exercises were leaving me injured and delaying progress. I felt like I would take a step forward with Insanity then take two steps back while I healed.

I was forced to give up on Insanity, until I lost more weight and could handle the high impact exercises, and focused elsewhere. I joined a Planet Fitness near my home and began going several times per week. I tried to create a good mix of cardio and weight training.

At this point I managed to lose in the neighborhood of thirty pounds. Despite feeling good physically, I wasn’t happy. My wife was a full-time student working part time on the side. We weren’t seeing a lot of one another as it was and rushing in a gym workout before she had to leave for work left me feeling drained and lonely.

When we moved into our new home together, I had an excuse to slack off a bit. I cancelled my gym membership (it wasn’t practical since it was so far away) and I had plenty to do around the house to keep myself busy. I put on a few pounds but rebounded well by beginning an exercise routine in my basement.

I began the Beachbody T25 Workout and completed the Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Cycles. I felt great and wanted to continue but rather than do the Beta / Gamma Hybrid cycle, I instead jumped back into Insanity. Despite being more physically fit, the high impact exercises took their toll on me once again.

I took some time off to heal and got comfortable. Too comfortable. I wasn’t as active as I should have been and I wasn’t tracking calories as closely as I should have. I continued to eat like I was during my exercise period and the weight began to pile back on.

I had all kinds of excuses. I could play with my daughter and not get easily winded, why did I have to get back into a an exercise routine? I was elected as the Vice President of Stowe Archers, I don’t have time to exercise because I need to be at the club.

Over a period of five to six months I managed to gain back twenty four of the thirty pounds that I had lost. I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, wearing a shirt that was now too small, and depression hit me like a freight train.

All of that time I spent eating better and exercising was wasted. Everything that I had worked for was gone. What was the point now? Fuck it, I’ll just be fat and need to get used to that fact. Any time I talked to friends that were working out and losing weight, I’d put on a happy face and be supportive all the while thinking about how I threw so much away.

One day I came home from work, in a brooding mood, and my wife told me that she decided that she wanted to lose weight and was going to start going to fitness classes hosted by a friend of ours (actually, it is a couple we know – they work as fitness instructors at a local studio). I wanted to support her so I purchased her a FitBit Charge HR for her birthday and encouraged her the best I could.

She enjoyed the classes and began going three times per week. Some days she stayed for back-to-back classes on the same night. Slowly but surely her body began to change before my eyes and my depression started lifting. I was proud of my wife and wanted to support her by getting healthy as well.

My first step to getting healthy was to do something I had never done before. I had my wife take mortifying before photos so that I could look back and see progress along the way. I also had her take my body measurements so that I had a baseline there as well.

The very next day I arranged a tour of a local gym. Happy with what I saw, I signed a two year contract and became a member of Anytime Fitness. Later that day, I went back for the first of many workouts to come.

I spent fifteen minutes warming up on a treadmill then stepped foot into the free-weight area of the gym. I was immediately intimidated. I was surrounded by people who looked as if they worked out their entire lives and here I was, a fat newcomer that looked very much out of place.

I finished my workout without having noticed a single judgmental look and left the gym feeling pretty good. I went back to Anytime Fitness four more times that first week and woke up each morning with a new soreness in each muscle group.

On Saturday I had my wife re-measure and photograph me. A part of me expected big losses for all the work that I had done but another part of me knew not to get my hopes up. It would be a long journey and I would have to take each week in stride. I stepped onto the scale for the first time in a week and let the number sink in. I had lost a total of three pounds and wasn’t sure what to think. The first time I ever weighed myself after a week of working out I was down ten pounds. Was I doing something wrong?

It wasn’t until I looked at the photos, side-by-side, that I began to feel proud. It wasn’t a drastic change but I could see the change. My chest and stomach looked smaller and when I input the measurements into MyFitnessPal, there was a reduction. Not a drastic reduction but progress nonetheless.

Yesterday was the start of my second week in the gym and I’m feeling pretty good about everything. I woke up this morning without muscle soreness and saw some progress. I’m finding that I’m excited about going to the gym and look forward to it becoming a regular routine.

The biggest change I need to make this time around is that I need to create an accountability and support system. In addition to having my wife by my side, I’m going to leverage online support. Text messages with friends and regular updates on my blog should serve that purpose well.

10 comments On Climbing Back on that Horse after a Rough Fall

  • Way to go buddy, I was in the same boat, I lost 50 lbs about 2 years ago give or take, I have since put some back on, but I’m very aware of my weight, diet, and exercise. I have started a new program (more crossfit, and Olympic Lifting) I have never been this strong in my life. I have a long way to go since I’m a stress eater, but I’m aware of it and that is the first step. the key is to keep going. If you want any websites, or books I have read that have helped let me know I’ll get you the links and titles. Keep going Walt

    • Corey,
      I have a tendency to eat when I get bored. Wife at work and my daughter spending time at my in-laws, might as well grab some feed and plant myself in front of the TV for a while…

      Any info you can provide would be great. I’ve subscribed to a couple of podcasts over the past week. Of the bunch, only one managed to hold my interest for more than an episode.

  • Awesome, Walt! Gotta start somewhere! You’ll notice over time that, regardless of the numbers, you’ll just start feeling better and better. The numbers will come… just keep at it. Great story.

    • Mike,
      It has been a long time since we’ve had the opportunity to chat. How is the Treadclimber coming along? Still feel like your walking up Mt Everest?

      Thanks for the encouragement and taking the time to leave a comment.

      • Yeah it has been a while, Walt! Treadclimber is great, but still way harder than just walking around outside. It’s nice as it helps get my heart rate up in less time than a treadmill. I’ve lost about 15 lbs since we bought it. You the man, man!

  • Hi Walt,

    Just wanted to say I have been enjoying reading your recent posts…happy to see you inspired in your writing…the topics have been great!

    • Paul,
      They say writing is like exercising a muscle. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately and the words have been falling together fairly easily. As long as I can keep finding things to talk about, I’ll continue to write.

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Congrats Walt. Starting over can be much harder than starting the first time. Something to consider with weight lifting. If you replace fat with muscle you may not see much change in weight. Muscle weighs more for the same physical space. Just keep gauging how you feel and how you look compared the before photos. Aside from body measurements like fat percentage, that’s the easiest metric for success. Also, don’t beat yourself up. Behavioral change is one of the hardest things to accomplish and takes a while to become the “norm”. Like archery, it’s best to focus on the pieces that make up the whole. If you can do that, the whole will take care of itself.

    • Scott,
      I’d be lying if I said the numbers on the scale weren’t important to me, however, my focus is on feeling and looking better (did that sound as vain to you as it did to me?). I’ve always enjoyed weight lifting so that is why I incorporated it. My time in the gym is mostly cardio (I do a cardio warmup – usually a mile on the treadmill – then wrap up the lifting session with 20-30 minutes of additional treadmill time).

      I really enjoy walking the woods and shooting the Field Courses at Stowe. I hate shooting the lower course and getting winded as I go up and down this hills. I suppose it reminds me of how far I’ve fallen.

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