Post and photos by Kris Wright
In 2011, I weighed 330 pounds.
Over the next year or so, I would try to lose weight, but I was wildly unsuccessful. How unsuccessful? I'm not sure. I stopped weighing myself out of shame and depression. I had a number of excuses for not losing the weight: job stress, personal emotional problems, not enough time. The truth was, I spent all my time eating, playing video games, and watching hours of Netflix.
On February 4th, 2013, I ended up making a change that would send my life on a roller coaster of awesome. My coworkers and I were talking, and I was mentioning how I used to love hiking and running when I was younger... then it hit me:
The only thing keeping me from doing what I love to do is me.
The next day, I went to the gym and lifted weights.
Fake It 'Til You Make It
For that first month, I only lifted twice a week. I bumbled around the gym, unsure of what I was doing. I mostly worked on various machines and pretended like I had a clue as to what I was doing. But something strange happened from this charade: my attitude and confidence changed. Soon, I began to share my trips to the gym on Facebook.
In March, I increased my gym trips to three days a week. I started researching weightlifting programs for beginners.
In April, I cleaned up my diet. I eliminated processed foods and went mostly Paleo (thanks to Nerd Fitness). I switched from machines to free weights, and began walking three days a week. These walks inspired me to someday run a marathon. The idea was daunting and scary, but thrilling! Later that month, I began a Couch to 5K Program.
A few months later I completed my first 5k, and every month afterwards I completed one or two 5k races. Each race was faster and the distance got easier. I was addicted! I began training for longer distances, and in September, I finished my first 10K.
Little did I know, my transformation wasn't done yet.
141 Pounds Lost, A New Lifestyle Gained
I had become an active member with Nerd Fitness, which is what brought No Meat Athlete to my attention. I was a vegetarian in college and loved it, and I've always been a huge animal lover. But the idea of going completely vegan seemed impossible. After reading through No Meat Athlete, it didn't seem so daunting. Here was a website designed for vegans and runners! It seemed too good to be true.
With the help of my two coworkers (both of which are vegan), I began transitioning to a plant-based diet in October. I came across the 7 Day Vegan Challenge on Zen Habits through No Meat Athlete Radio which helped me start my journey to a plant-based diet. Signing up for the email list and getting Matt's E-course was very helpful as well. I immediately felt healthier, and my race times improved even more. I devoured the No Meat Athlete book when it came out and have made quite a few recipes. (If you haven't yet, you need to make the Indian Rice and Beans recipe from the book. It's the bomb!)
Towards the end of January I began training for my first half marathon (Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon) using the plan from the No Meat Athlete Book. I have plans to run the Baltimore Marathon in October, and I'll be using the Marathon Roadmap for that.
Since February 4th 2013, I have lost 141 lbs. I've gone from 44% body fat to 24.3%. My waist went from 60 inches to 38. My shirt size went from 4XL to L. I'm not the first person to transform, and I won't be the last. You can do it, too.
5 Tips for Transformation
- Start small. I truly believe that making small changes over many months is the way to go. When I started going to the gym twice a week, it was enough to get me interested, but not too much to be overwhelming. I didn't even think about my diet until months later!
- Have fun! This is key. I lift weights and I run because I love these activities. If you're not doing something you love, then you're not likely to stick with it. If the idea of suffering for an hour on the elliptical sounds horrible to you, then don't get on the elliptical. Focus on something you enjoy, like swimming, yoga, or hiking.
- Have a specific goal and work towards that. The idea of doing a marathon had always been in the back of my mind. When I started to work towards it and make that my goal, it became a lot less daunting than some of the bigger goals I had, like losing a lot of weight.
- Get support! The first day I hit the gym, I posted it on Facebook. From there, I posted all my workouts and progress on Facebook. It was great getting so much support from my friends and family all around the world! Also, you never know who you're inspiring. I've had people tell me that I'm the reason they went out to work out that day or have decided to change their lives. One of my best friends has lost over 80 lbs and has become a runner, thanks in part to my posts on Facebook! Knowing that people are watching and rooting for you can e incredibly motivating. I've had days that I didn't want to work out, but I got it in because I didn't want to let my friends and family down.
- Take pictures. I take a picture of myself the first Thursday of every month (and post it!). This has been critical for motivation because it allows me to actually see the change. The one thing I regret is not taking more pictures from when I was bigger. I only have a few, but I wish I had more to compare.
I'm not done yet - not even close. Fitness is a work in progress, and I continue to improve every week. But I embrace that progress, and no longer want to keep myself from doing what I love to do.
Leave a comment to congratulate Kris on his weight loss and running accomplishments! While you're at it, check out the Discussions page to share your big goals. You can begin your transformation today!
The No Meat Athlete Spotlight showcases readers doing what they do best - kicking ass and taking names, all on a plant-based diet! Do you want your moment in the spotlight? Know of an inspiring NMA you'd like to nominate? Submit your story here, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.