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.

Hawaii

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 Comments

  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.
    Ryan

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    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.

      Like

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

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

    Like

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