Before: Jim at over 320 lbs
Meet my friend Jim. He’s the man.
About a year ago, I met a friend through work named Jim Hodgson and somehow we got on the topic of fitness. When he told me that he used to weigh over 320 pounds I couldn’t believe it; Jim seemed like one of the healthiest guys I’ve ever met; he rides his bike everywhere, he competes in races, and has insane amounts of energy. Oh, and he could totally kick my ass in Counter-Strike. When I put this site together, I asked Jim if he’d be interested in talking about his story, his success in losing so much weight, and hopefully pass along some words of wisdom to other big guys who might think it’s already too late for them to make a change or they don’t have the right genetics to be healthy.
After: Jim over 100lbs lighter!
Jim is truly an inspiration, and my favorite part about it is that he lost over 100 lbs. in an non-traditional matter; he didn’t like dieting, and he was smart enough to recognize that burning more calories than consuming calories would produce weight loss….so he just set out to burn as many calories as possible every day. Today’s post is really long, but if you’re tipping the scales and think all hope is lost this could be the thing that gets you off the couch and on the road to a better life. Read it on your lunch break!
Hey Jim, can you describe a typical day before you decided to change your life, what did you weigh?
Jim: I remember stepping on the scale when I sort of had that “Ok, that’s enough” moment, and the needle went around twice. It’s not supposed to do that. The number in my mind is 320, but I don’t know how precise that is. Definitely well into giant fat man territory, though. I would get up, eat some Lucky Charms, go to work, smoke cigarettes, do some coding, smoke more cigarettes, go eat a big burger for lunch, then eat a bigass meal that night and plop down and play games or watch TV. Basically I shoveled in the calories and didn’t burn any of them.
Did one thing push you over the edge? What was your motivation to make that change?
Jim: I always thought I would. I guess I just sort of figured that now was the time. Not getting any younger, all that. I spent a lot of years sort of fantasizing about losing weight and what I would do if I lost it, but not actually losing it. So finally I was like “I guess I should get started.” I bought a bike and started riding it to work. That’s how I lost the first 60 or so.
How about today? Describe a typical day now, and now what do you weigh?
Jim: I actually don’t know. The last time I weighed it was 216 but that’s been a while. I personally never had much luck with scales. I would weigh myself every week and my weight would go up or down and it would affect me psychologically. So instead I just worked on my calorie intake and worked on my calorie output through exercise and stopped weighing.
I burned 4000 calories today on an 87 mile road ride [NF note: Holy ****!]. I can eat pretty much whatever I want. I feel a lot better not obsessing when I’m up 3lbs from last time I weighed or whatever. Just stick to the plan. If you feel like crap, maybe you have a crap workout, but you still work out. If you stay in the game, you cannot fail no matter how slowly you progress. Stay in the game.
For me, weighing in on the scale is like the stock market. If you watch it every day it goes up or down, but if you look at it over a long period of time it trends in a certain direction. I’m much more concerned with my athletic ability and capacity for running at a certain pace or cycling at a certain pace for a given length of time.
As far as a typical day, I have a weekly schedule. I get up around 6am in the spring/summer/fall. In the winter I do a base building spin class so I get up before dawn so I can get in two hours before 7am. The rest of the time I get in a morning workout, then go to work (I like to be at my desk and cranking by 8 at the latest), then do an evening workout. On the weekends I do long runs or long rides. Wednesdays I do long swims. I go to bed around 10 or 11 usually. I try to work in rest days but I feel slack on rest days so it’s a struggle. I also hate tapering for long races.
Lets talk about the future: what are your goals moving forward?
Jim: I want to continue to grow my business [NF: the link is at the end of the article], continue to get more fit, continue to be a positive force for people who need it, meet the right girl and start a family. I really have all my goals exactly in place. It feels great. Now all I have to do is work hard.
What’s the most important thing that had the most impact on your weight loss?
Jim: Getting to the point where exercise and being active is not only fun, but a part of my life. I’m in a triathlon club. I’m on a cycling team. I have races I’m looking forward to and a growing list of stats and results from races I’ve done in the past. Working out is not something I do because I think I should. Each workout has a purpose, and each week of workouts fits into a schedule that builds specifically for my racing goals for the year.
It makes it a lot easier to put a given workout into perspective, rather than feeling like a hamster on a wheel. I did the elliptical machine thing for a long time and I had some success with it, but I’m much more stoked about riding all day with my teammates than about trying to get on an elliptical machine and watch CNN or listen to my iPod.
Favorite video game of all time?
Jim: I’d have to say Counter-Strike. I’ve been playing it since beta 6.5 when the m4 still had a scope and there were drivable vehicles. I love that game. It’s the best FPS ever made in my opinion. I still play CS a few times a week just to headshot a few n00bs and blow off steam. I love gungame. I’ve also recently been into Left 4 Dead, and I played through Fallout 3. My schedule is getting too packed to play much anymore, but I still like doing a Rock Band night with my friends.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be, and why?
Jim: I’d like to win the Tour de France, or win Kona. Not really a superpower since people do those things, but you know, I would want my superpower to be doing it without performance enhancing drugs. I’d probably rather win the Tour since that would annoy the French. America, baby. F*** yeah!
If I had to pick a real superpower I would pick flight, but that would probably get me disqualified from racing so I wouldn’t want it anymore…and I would pick incredible power to attract women, but I already have it. Sup, ladies? [NF note: hahahahahaha, nice.]
Do you have any advice for other guys in the same boat, trying to lose a large amount of weight?
JIm: I had much better luck with getting my calorie output up than getting my calorie intake down. Last week my heart rate watch recorded 12000 calories burned. I expect to probably have a 20000 week this summer. That means I still get to eat my favorite foods but I don’t gain weight because I’m super active. After my first marathon I ate half a large pizza, then went out that night for a cheeseburger. Hell yes.
Other items that helped me:
- Stop drinking
- Quit sodas. Yes, including Diet Coke.
- If you smoke, quit
- Stop eating so much. Hey-ohh!
- Start racing.
In my experience, losing over 100lbs changed my life in a lot of ways that I thought it would and a lot of ways that I didn’t see coming at all. I used to be a really goofy silly guy and I’m not anymore. I used to sit around and watch TV all the time and I don’t do either one anymore. I don’t smoke or drink anymore. I don’t stay out late because I have a race or a training ride or my business to go to.
So, friendships that I had that were based on those things went through big changes. Or in other words, all of my friendships went through big changes because I went through big changes. I lost some friends. I made a bunch. Ultimately I am a million times happier now than I was.
People will hate on you and say discouraging stuff that they either don’t know or don’t care is discouraging. I have always been Big Jim. Granted, I am still 6’1″ and 210, and I swim all the time so I’m pretty thick, but I’m still tired of being Big Jim. People are going to try to marginalize you and explain away your accomplishments because they know that if you can do it, they can too. I’m sick of talking about my Ironman race coming up in August because everyone says the same thing. “Oh my god, I could NEVER do that!” It makes me ill because that’s the mental attitude I had that kept me fat and miserable. F*** that.
Losing massive weight or training for a race as as easy or hard as flipping a switch. If you’ve decided you’re going to do it, nothing can stop you. If you haven’t, nothing can get you going.
Flip the switch.
If you haven’t noticed yet, Jim’s the man. Follow Jim’s progress towards participating in the Ironman Triathalon this summer over at Jim Hodgson: Fat man to Iron man, follow him on twitter at twitter.com/jimhodgson, and check out his new social media company at www.wangwins.com.