Lost and Found: Ryan’s 115 Pound Weight Loss Journey

Nerd Fitness rebels come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life.

They also come in every type of “nerd” possible: book nerds, video game nerds, cosplay nerds, tech nerds, programming nerds, and…even Bible nerds!  Today, I want to introduce you to Ryan. He is pictured above in his “before” phase, and is studying to become a Catholic priest!

Ryan spent the past two years struggling to find a path to a healthy lifestyle that worked for him.  Somehow, that path lead him to Nerd Fitness and the our community, and an overall weight loss of 115 pounds (and counting!).

Here is his story.

Ryan’s Story

My name is Ryan and I am currently living in Mundelein, IL, where I’m studying at Mundelein Seminary.

I’m originally from Odessa, TX, hometown to Permian football and Friday Night Lights (Steve’s note: great book, decent movie, INCREDIBLE TV show).

My journey began in the Summer of 2010 when I was studying Spanish in San Antonio, Texas. I had just gotten a physical the week before where my doctor told me I was pre-diabetic and had high blood pressure. I was weighed in at a whopping 376-pounds and was extremely unhappy with where my life was going (many tears were shed over my physical wellbeing).

I was in the Spanish program with a few buddies of mine who had always been health conscious.

I asked for their help and we developed an exercise routine that involved swimming and the elliptical machine for an hour a day, six times a week. With their help and support, I stuck to that program for the rest of the summer.

My diet was another story.

I had always been so lost in the cafeteria or restaurants:

  • Should I eat salad?
  • Should I eat a bowl of fruit?
  • Would a turkey sandwich kill me?

I was sitting outside a Subway my first week in San Antonio when I was approached by this couple who told me about their “health club” they had just opened. I’m usually skeptical of any quick fixes, but was desperate and felt drawn to return the next day. It turns out they were supplement vendors, and their meal-replacement shake program is something that is done twice each week.

This program, paired with my exercise routine, led to my dropping 30-pounds that first summer.

But the next school year I struggled with regaining and re-losing the weight. I had returned to college in Kansas City, MO, and was far from the club I had attended in San Antonio. I tried to maintain the shake routine but eventually plateaued at 320 pounds.

I was stuck there for the next year and was absolutely frustrated.

In December 2011, I found myself binging on potato chips one night in a fit of frustration and disappointment. Desperate for some sign of hope, I found myself wandering the internet for something that could help me continue my weight-loss journey.

It was then that I wandered onto Nerd Fitness. I read the beginners article to the Paleo-Diet (I had come to the realization that I couldn’t sustain this meal-shake routine for the rest of my life) and made a commitment to implement elements of that as best as I could.

I purchased the Rebel Fitness Guide and started that the following semester.

From January to August, I dropped an additional 59-pounds to bring my weight loss to about 115-pounds.

Here are some of the changes that have taken place over the past two years:

  • I actually did a few push-ups the other day for the first time!
  • I went from a size 52-waist to a size 38.
  • I used to wear XXXXL-shirts and am now comfortably in an XL.

I’m still on my journey.

At my doctor’s advice, I will probably stop and maintain when I get to 250.

I’ll be focusing on a strength routine, which hopefully I’ll be able to maintain until I make it back to Texas (my home) to see my M.D. for more guidance and advisement.

Ryan’s Interview

Steve: Hey Ryan! Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions.  What was a typical day like for the OLD you?

Ryan: It usually consisted of sneaking out in the middle of the night to make a “fourth meal” trip to either Taco Bell, McDonalds, or Burger King. There was a LOT of fried food and I was really unhappy. I was just “surviving” – going to class, reading my textbooks, wishing I was thinner. I avoided anything physical (sports, running, the gym).

Steve: Was there a specific moment when you decided to make a change?  What inspired you to get started?

Ryan: I don’t know if there was a specific moment when I decided to make a change. I distinctly remember sitting outside a Subway, sandwich in hand, thinking, “I need to get in shape.” That was only after many embarrassing moments that involved things like carnival rides and amusement park rollercoasters (not being able to fit).  That’s when I was approached by the people who started me on the shake program.

Steve: What’s a typical day like now?

Ryan: It’s a lot more structured and organized for the sake of my own sanity. Usually begins a 5:30 for waking up and reflection, breakfast, classes, workout, recreation, and sleep by 10:00.

Steve: What has been your workout strategy?

Ryan: The Rebel Fitness Guide has carried me to my present day success! I do the prescribed workouts (I’m up to Level 3!) and try to run 3-miles on the “off” days.

Steve: How about your diet – how as that been going for you?

Ryan: This has been more tricky. I’ve tried to wean myself off the shake program and am opting for a more “Paleo influenced” diet: no bread, more greens, etc. Not having bread has been the most difficult but successful change I have made. I actually have written “Bread makes you fat” on my restroom mirror in Latin (Scott Pilgrim reference).  “Panis penguinum fecit te.” My diet has definitely been the trickiest part though, and I am still trying to figure things out.

Steve: How did you track your progress? How often did you weigh yourself?

Ryan: I initially started weighing myself everyday. That became maddening when, after a night of binge eating, I’d see the scale jump 10 pounds! I started taking measurements and that’s been the most effective thing for me.

Steve: What’s been the most important change you made that helped you succeed?

Ryan: My attitude. I think I was waiting for my fairy godmother to come and make me thin. There was a conscious decision to make these changes in my life. No crying, no more excuses: just sheer determination.

Steve: What kind of support system did you have?

Ryan: My two buddies who are fairly health conscious really motivated me in the beginning. After returning back to school in the Fall after my first summer, our lives got super busy and we started to get preoccupied with other things. They’ve always been someone I can depend on for a swift kick in the behind for motivation. My parents also have been my own personal cheer-leaders. My dad, before I began my journey, was authentically concerned for my health and well-being. He’s really proud of me now.

Steve: Have you tried and failed to get healthy before in the past? What made this time different?

Ryan: I had tried to do something in the past but it usually consisted of me being lost in the gym and at the buffet line. This time, however, there was a conscious decision to get it done. I had a game plan which involved the Rebel Fitness Guide and Paleo elements in my diet. This plan is what made the world of difference.

Steve: What would you tell somebody in your situation right now to help them? Somebody who’s tried and failed but ready to try again?

Ryan: To quote my favorite philosopher Aristotle: “Just do it!” Get a workout routine (I recommend Nerd Fitness’ programs) and try to incorporate some Paleo elements in your diet. AND STAY AWAY FROM BREAD! IT MAKES YOU FAT!

Steve:  So, what’s next for you?

Ryan: I hope to lose a few more pounds (another 30?) and will probably focus more on strength building.

Steve: What are you excited to do now that you weren’t physically able to do before?

Ryan: Kneel!  That’s kind of important for a Catholic, haha. I’m just able to get around a lot easier without being so winded. I’m able to play volleyball, run three miles every other day, ride rollercoasters, and go out onto a lake in a boat without the fear of going overboard because of my weight.

Having lost this weight has done wonders for my confidence.

Steve: Your physical appearance has changed…what else has changed about you?

Ryan: My self-esteem has vastly improved. I don’t feel uncomfortable in my own skin which has served my helping others. I was more of a “behind the scenes” kind of guy because I thought people wouldn’t take the fat guy seriously. My whole perception of reality has changed!

Steve: Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?

Ryan: Lord of the Rings

Steve: Good call, me too!  Favorite video game of all time?

Ryan: Donkey Kong 64.

Steve: Bold choice.  I definitely remember collecting EVERY freaking banana in that game!  Do you have any nerdy passions or pursuits?

Ryan: Philosophy, juggling, church buildings, candles, and old books.

Why was Ryan Successful?

Ryan finally stepped up.  After years of wishing he was skinnier and waiting around for it to happen (without doing anything about it), he sucked it up and understood that he was making excuses rather than taking action.  He knew that hope needed to be paired with action in order to produce success.  He looked in the mirror, was unhappy with what he saw, and realized that he and he alone had the power to change his destiny.

…and Ryan didn’t give up.  It took him a few tries, a few different attempts with different methods of losing weight (eating less, spending hours on a treadmill, and trying meal replacement shakes), before finding a plan and method that both worked AND made him happy.  Had he tried, failed, and then given up, Ryan would still be at 375 pounds rather than getting featured on Nerd Fitness and inspiring thousands 🙂

Ryan had a plan to follow!  Ryan found a plan that spoke his language (nerd!) and made sense to him: The Rebel Fitness Guide. He followed the workouts to focused on getting stronger, made incremental changes to his diet, and stuck with it consistently for months and months. Just like Joe, he was resilient and persistent.   Want to know the secret? The best workout plan is the one you actually stick with consistently.  The Rebel Fitness Guide worked for Ryan because it spoke his language and gave him a plan to follow.

Questions for Ryan?

Ryan’s journey took over two years to get to where he is today.  He had plenty of moments where he felt like a failure, lots of experiences that had him wondering if he was destined to remain unhealthy.  He powered through those crappy days, continued to push and struggle. Today he stands before us a completely different person.

I hope you are as fired up as I am.  Feel free to leave Ryan a message of congrats here on the blog, comment on his WOOT! thread on the Nerd Fitness message boards.

If you have any questions for Ryan, leave a comment and we’ll make it happen!


PS – Are you struggling with getting started? Not sure how to workout or what to eat? Well, if you’re signed up for the Rebel Army Newsletter, you’ll receive a free copy of our eBook on The Beginners Guide to the Paleo Diet, and more secret goodies for Rebels only!  

PPS – This is just the first of MANY success stories that are flooding into the Nerd Fitness inbox. You’ll see a few others over the next few weeks (yes, women success stories too)!  If you have a success story you want to share, please email me at Steve@NerdFitness.com. Nothing makes me happier than sharing these stories with the community.

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  • Katelin

    LOVED THIS STORY. So inspirational, im am definitely thinking about buying a Rebel Fitness Guide. 🙂

  • Wil

    Good work Ryan! A great accomplishment!

  • Dan

    Great job Ryan. Very inspiring my friend!!!!!

  • Aristotle? Lord of the Rings? Catholic? Paleo? Philosophy?!?! So many of my favorite things crammed into one success story. Great job Ryan!

  • Awesome job! I’m totally stealing the bread-quote-on-the-mirror idea.

    Confession time: I sometimes secretly wish I had been much bigger when I started, just so I could say “My body is supposed to be God’s temple, but mine was more like a megachurch”.

  • He found what worked for him, that’s awesome! For me, it’s counting calories and running. For my friends, it’s weights and biking. Find what works, find what you love, and it works out great! Thanks for this inspirational story.

  • Stephen P

    Awesome job! You must be very proud!

  • Alyssa Chapman

    congrats! wishing you the best on your journey to the best you!

  • Wow! So inspirational. Love a great success story! Ryan should be proud of his accomplishments thus far.

  • Julie

    Oh my! That is AWESOME!! Congratulations!

    Also, I love the humour in “What are you excited to do now that you weren’t physically able to do before?
    Ryan: Kneel! That’s kind of important for a Catholic”. Lol.

  • Brandon Scriver

    EPIC! Congrats Ryan, keep kicking “butt!” Thanks for posting yet another awesome story Steve!

  • Emily

    Great job Ryan!!! Loved your story and appreciate your honesty – thank you for sharing!!

  • Mike Garrison

    “Panis penguinum fecit te” (Bread makes you fat) Love it!

  • Mag

    Quote of the day: “Only you can make the decision to make changes happen in your life. Stop crying, there are no more excuses: plow through with just sheer determination.” Inspirational. Great accomplishment Ryan! Keep going strong! =)

  • Jeanie Witcraft

    WOW! Congratulations on your curiosity, and most importantly, your perseverance!! My question is: what period of church architecture is your favorite? 🙂

  • Ryan, that’s just a fantastic journey you have been on. It all sounds so familiar to me!! I had so many fits and starts before making good progress. But, that’s how you learn, right? You fail, and learn from it. In the end, it all pays off.

  • You look amazing, well done 🙂

  • L

    Amazing job, Ryan! Truly inspirational 🙂 Keep up the good fight!

  • ilanatree

    Congratulations, Ryan! And good luck with your studies 🙂

  • I am so incredibly proud of you Ryan! You’re in my prayers.

  • SharmatJoe

    Congrats!!!!! 😀 I’m cheering for ya! Keep it up!!! 🙂

  • Thanks to everyone for the kind words of encouragement! You are all too awesome. I hope that my journey only serves to inspire your own paths to living a healthier life.

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  • W O W !

  • Wow!!! Amazing, keep it up, I’m gonna keep trying too 😀

  • Congratulation rayan and Great article post here. I have to say that this is very useful to people who want to loss your weight. Definitely, I will share your article with my friends.

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  • First of all thank you very much for sharing such a great information about weight loss and I have to say that congrats Ryan. I think this health tips will be help to people who want to lose their weight.

  • flyingwonderchick

    Ryan, I relate so much to your story. Thanks for sharing and congratulations! I will think of you when I need some inspiration.

  • Casey

    Wow! I’ve met Ryan! How amazing to come across this story through fellow Catholic Paleo-dieters’ blogs.

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