My Transformation Story

I’ve shared bits and pieces of my transformation on this blog, on instagram, and with friends – but I have never taken the time to really tell the story. I’m continually surprised at the reaction I get when I tell people I used to weigh 250 pounds, often times it’s a combination of disbelief and complete surprise. The life that I live now does not in anyway reflect the life that I was living 6+ years ago. As a matter of fact, I’ve been home to Alaska many times since deciding to lose weight and change my life – and more than once I’ve had old friends genuinely not recognize me. I wanted to take the time to tell the story, I’ll try to not make it a novel, but I will share some of the key decisions I made – and more importantly, how the decision stuck.
I grew up in Alaska, and as a kid I was incredibly active. From sunrise to sunset I was always out biking with friends, skateboarding, playing paintball – you name it. As we got older, snowboarding became the obsession and I would snowboard 60+ times in a season. I played basketball as my primary sport, I was never the best, but I could always shoot the basketball very well. The most points I ever scored in a game was 18 my junior year of high school versus a big rival of ours, Seward. Without going on and on, I was active as a kid – and that is the point I’m trying to make here.

I made a decision to get a job at Best Buy the summer before my senior year (2005) – and to this day it was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had. I made amazing friends, got to work with computers, my passion (at the time), every single day – and had some incredible life experiences. I also started eating out more, fast food was the easy option during my 30 minute lunch breaks – sometimes it was Subway, sometimes it was Taco Bell – but it was always eating out. But eating out wasn’t the only big change to my life.

All of the guys I worked with in the Computer Department decided to start playing a video game called World of Warcraft (WoW). For those of you who know me, there are a few traits that I possess that are seen throughout my day to day life very consistently: I love to be a part of whatever is going on, and I’m incredibly competitive. With that said, not only was I up for joining the guys in playing, but I wanted to be the best. Without turning this entire post into my chronicles of online video gaming – this is where my life drastically began to change. Throughout my senior year of high school, I would stay up to 1, sometimes 3 in the morning playing WoW online. I was sleeping as little as possible, I was eating poorly (and conveniently), I was disrespectful to my parents, I skipped playing basketball my senior year (for reasons other than video gaming), and the list goes on and on.

Let’s fast forward to 2008. As a sophomore in college, I was still playing World of Warcraft, weighed 250 pounds, and had developed some very poor habits. One of my favorite weekend activities was to go buy a Little Caesars ‘Hot ‘n Ready’, a couple 24oz cans of rock star, and I would stay up ALL night playing. To say that it was consuming was an incredible understatement.

My biggest

To this day, I can’t put my finger on it, but a few days before the school year ended I made one of the biggest decisions of my life. I stopped playing the video game. Alongside a friend of mine from Best Buy who was playing the game with me, we each picked up a copy of ‘Body for Life’ – and committed to turning our lives around. When I arrived home in Alaska in early May I announced to my family that I was going to lose 30 pounds that summer, and I wanted their support. My plan was simple, I would workout during my lunch break (my summer job was in a mall that had a gym on the bottom floor), pack a healthy lunch, and focus my competitive nature on this goal. Through all of this – following the principles that Bill Phillips lays out in his book, Body for Life.

The summer passed by quickly, and I stuck to my goal(s). And I executed the plan as perfectly as I could. I worked out 6 days a week as the book told me to, I ate 6 times a day, and was tracking my calories for the first time in my life. My goal was to lose 1.5-2lbs per week. This goal was based on what I had read, which was that this was a healthy amount of weight to lose each week without losing (much) muscle, primarily targeting fat loss. As my Alaskan summer came to a close, I didn’t quite meet my goal – and I headed back to Oregon in August weighing just over 220 pounds. For those of you not tracking the math, I had lost about 25-30 pounds in a little less than 4 months.

When I got back to school – that is when I really changed. As I began seeing friends after the summer, their reactions to my new found self were incredibly motivating. I was making better decisions about my diet, I was counting calories meticulously, and working out smart and strategically. I dove into the literature of strength training and developed a routine that consisted of lifting weights 6x a week, while inserting tons of other activities into my week such as pick up basketball and ultimate frisbee. It was official, my life was changed.


By Christmas of 2008 I weighed 200 pounds. I’ll never forget the look on my Mom and Dad’s faces when they saw me for the first time that December, they were so proud. I was a new me, and the next 2 years were filled with confidence and a never ending pursuit of being the best version of me that I could be. I was a better person on the inside and out.

In 2010 I got my first real job. By this point I was a stable 190-195 pounds, strong, and training like a bodybuilder (after 2 years of continuous research, I was very knowledgable on this stuff too). Fitness was part of who I was, it was a part of my day every single day, and the decisions that used to be conscious were now very habitual. I had made a lifestyle change, and that is the important element of a successful plan that will stick. If you had asked me then, I didn’t have any ambitious goals, I just wanted to be as strong and fit as I could be – and I probably would have thought that I’d be a weight-lifting, chicken eating, calorie counting type of guy for the rest of my life. Boy was I wrong…

Early on in my new job, I met a girl (and I was lucky enough to marry her this past June!). I didn’t know a ton about her, but to say that I was intrigued would be the biggest understatement of this entire post. The one thing that I knew was that she was into running. Once again, my life changed forever (and for the better). I can’t explain it without sounding somewhat weird, but she had signed up for a half marathon in Arizona, so I signed up too. What can I say, I wanted to impress her. I ran my first 10k that fall of 2010 in just over 56 minutes (a little slower than 9:00/mile pace). Just as I had done with weight lifting and weight loss – I studied running. I crafted a plan and stuck to it for 3 months and in January of 2011 I ran my first half marathon, Rock ‘n Roll Arizona, in just over 1:41 (just over 7:40/mile pace).

bigRnR AZNew Me

I will save my detailed endurance story for later. But my running progressed quickly, and I eventually found Triathlon. Triathlon is what has stuck the longest of any of my personal pursuits, and is the one that I see myself sticking with (I mean it this time!). I hope that this story can inspire and motivate. Anything truly is possible, but it requires tenacious, and very hard work.

Thanks for reading –

5 thoughts on “My Transformation Story

  1. inspiring! I never knew, Mike. Thanks for telling the story and being so open about the ups and the downs. My wife and I talk about these activity choices a lot, with regards to our kids, because when you really fall in love with something like video games or triathlons, well…you already said what happens. Well-played, my friend.


    1. Thanks for the kind words, Ryan. It’s a story that I’m really proud of, and that means a lot that you took the time to read.


    1. Thanks brother! You’re journey is inspiring to me as well and i’m so thankful for our friendship.


  2. Really amazing transformation, Mike. I’m always impressed by your commitment and discipline to your passions. Thank you for sharing!


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