Daryl is a self described simple guy. Just a nerd who loves lifting and video games (hey, he’s in the right place!). Working in fast food management, Daryl has his share of willpower-challenges throughout the day.
Previously drinking well over 100 oz of soda each day and skipping meals to…drink more soda, it’s safe to say that he lived a fairly sedentary life:
I was a complete slob and all I did was eat and play video games. On the average day I would get up (if I had even gone to bed) and go to work, come home and not even bother to contact any of the few friends that I did somehow have, and go right to playing video games…that was my life for quite a while.
But Daryl decided to make a change, and today finds himself over 100 lbs lighter with a whole new outlook on life. Let’s take a look at how he did it.
Steve: Hey Daryl! Thanks for chatting with us. I’m sure most Rebels can relate to your story – unhappy with your life and using video games as an escape. I mean, that was me circa 2008! Was there a specific moment when you decided to make a change? What inspired you to get started?
Thanksgiving of 2013. I ate a whole BBQ party tray by myself and was about halfway through a pie and I threw up. I had literally eaten myself sick, and I knew I had to fix myself before I killed myself.
Steve: Wow, so what’s a typical day like now – after the change?
A typical day now is a complete 180 with a little rocket fuel to get away from the old me! I am up early every morning, and I make sure I have plenty of time before work starts to complete my morning routine. Start with a quick 5-minute warm-up to start the day and then it is breakfast time! Always have a hearty Paleo breakfast so I am ready to destroy my workout! Immediately after breakfast I am into my workout and then a cooldown before I start my day.
Steve: So what has been your exercise strategy?
I train six days a week. Initially I started off with the beginner body weight circuit 3 days a week, and I did interval training the other 3 days of the week, with one rest day at the end of the week.
About 2 months in I scored a weight set off craigslist for $50 and immediately added lifting into my regime, which helped me get past a plateau in my weight loss that I was at. At about month 3 I swapped from doing the above circuit to the Advanced Body Weight Circuit (scaled) with a dynamic warm-up. And I begin doing hill sprints on my interval days twice a week with yoga finishing the week.
This is what I am still doing in month six of my training.
Steve: Holy crap, what a progression! Start small, and work your way up to a serious routine. What are you excited to do now that you weren’t physically able to do before? Any activities in particular?
Pull-ups. Holy crap pull-ups. That was the one thing that always made me feel embarrassed in high school and now I do them every day! [Steve’s note: here’s how to work your way up to pull ups].
Steve: Good stuff. So, what about the other side, your diet? What’s been your strategy?
99% Paleo. I quit my old diet cold turkey. I signed up for the site and downloaded the guides I bought (now The Nerd Fitness Academy). I told myself that if I could get through the holidays on this diet then I could do anything. I mentally shook hands with Steve when he asked in the guide for six weeks of training/eating right for this to take hold and I am glad I did!
When I first started I ate way less than I needed, but the NF forums are very helpful and that was pointed out to me when I asked a few questions after I was feeling weak and fatigued. I upped my food intake and the fatigue went away, with that I gained more energy than I ever remember having in my life.
Steve: Wow, what a huge change. Was that the hardest change? If not, what was?
Exercising. I didn’t really know how to start (so thank you Nerd Fitness!) and I lived in a small town of sub 5,000 people. The one gym was open 9-6, Monday-Friday, and I worked through most of that.
So, I made it all work from my bedroom. The hardest part was telling myself that I am getting out of bed 2 hours before my 7 am shift to EXERCISE and make a healthy breakfast.
Now that it is all routine, I can’t imagine life without it; it has become my new way of life!
Steve: How did you track your progress? Was it just the scale or did you track other metrics too?
I took photos every 3 months (I really REALLY wish I would have taken more, but I hated having my picture taken when I was obese, and I still had some of that tracking around in my mind). I weighed myself once a week, if I did it any more than that I would become paranoid…I made sure it was the same time every week so the differences would be most accurate. I really did not take any other measurements because I was uneducated on how to, and was too distracted by how awesome the other changes were!
Steve: We know how you feel dude – sorry I didn’t write my article about photos sooner! So, your physical appearance has changed…what else has changed about you?
I am noticeably happier and not as shy around people. Being a tall guy is rough enough being shy, but being tall and heavy is just a nightmare. Losing a lot of the shyness too!
Steve: What kind of support system did you have on your journey?
Everyone I could tell! It started out with my hello on the NF Community Boards and after a warm reception, I started actually doing it, I got the help I needed when I had questions, it was just amazing! My family was incredibly supportive as were my friends. They also loved that I was becoming a healthier, happier person.
Being public about my goals was one of my most important decisions; I would have never done it on my own!
Steve: Have you tried and failed to get healthy before in the past? What made this time different?
Yes, but I never knew how or really who to ask. It was different this time because like I said, I told EVERYONE. Everyone was helping keep my accountable, even the grocery clerks I told. And it felt great when complete strangers like them, or customers in our store that I worked really started to notice, so that was motivation to keep going hard! I also love RPG and I had never imagine putting myself in one in my own life to help myself lose weight, but it worked pretty well!
Steve: So, what’s next for you? You’ve accomplished all of this stuff that you have to be super happy about…but is there another dragon to slay?
I was originally motivated by joining the military, but hit a snag in my journey with the military motivation. I finally got around to talking to some recruiters, and while they were all very impressed with my weight loss and my ability to complete the fitness trials, I was told that going active duty is simply not an option for me.
I have gout, and while my medicine keeps it at bay it is one of those things that can render me unable to serve, endangering those around me and myself. When I got told this from every single recruiter I had a blowout: I went back to eating crappy and stopped exercising. After about a week of this I looked in the mirror and I wasn’t magically overweight again from this binge.
I had a moment where the light switched on that my motivation wasn’t that I wanted to join the military, so much as it was to be as healthy as the people I see in the active military. I slapped myself awake and realized that I did NOT want to go back to how I looked and felt before, so I got back on track. Now I have taken a job transfer that was long overdue, and I am going to keep doing new things, challenging and pushing myself! I’m going to go for the Spartan Beast this year in Montana)
Steve: Sounds like you mentally leveled up. Sorry to hear about the military thing, but it sounds like you got to the true source of your motivation for why you wanted to change – so props to you for snapping out of the funk (which we can all understand) and getting back on track. Proud of you. Okay. On to the good stuff. Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?
I was raised into Star Wars by my older brother! I have a special place for it in my nerdy heart.
Steve: Do you have any nerdy passions or pursuits?
I love to write story lines for video games in my spare time, I am working with a buddy on one right now who does game design. I’ll keep ya updated on that one!
Steve: If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be, and why?
Aquaman wanna-be checking in here. I am fascinated with deep sea life and it seems only fitting, and I could also definitely help a lot a of people with it!
Steve: Quote to live by?
“Pain, Strength, Suffering, and Reserve. These are the pillars a man must endure when he remakes himself, for he is both the sculptor and the marble.”
Why Daryl Was Successful
Daryl used to use video games as an escape, living almost a completely sedentary lifestyle – sound familiar? Today Daryl is down 100 lbs and looking for the next thing to keep him challenged. Let’s break down some of the key reasons Daryl was so successful:
Daryl took the most difficult challenge in small bites. Daryl said that he always found exercise the hardest part of the equation. So what did he do? He started small, with something manageable – the Beginner Bodyweight Workout. After building some momentum, he added in a proper warmup and cooldown, advanced to the higher level version of the workout, and added in sprints.
Daryl built up his workout slowly, just like leveling up in a video game. And by focusing on exercises that gave him his most bang for his buck (compound movements), he didn’t have to spend hours on a treadmill to do it!
Daryl made sure things were different this time: When Daryl failed in the past, he didn’t have a support team and he didn’t have a guide. This time he came prepared. First he made his quest public and had an enormously supportive team of friends, family, and Rebels on the board.
If there was a question that would normally trip him up and serve as an excuse for not doing a workout, he had a community of 30,000 Rebels who were ready and waiting to answer questions and cheer him on.
Daryl put a MAJOR focus on diet. Unlike his strategy for exercise, Daryl went all-in on Paleo (In our most recent discussion on Paleo, we discuss some of the pros and cons of wading in slowly and jumping right into a new diet). As diet accounts for 80-90% of success, this change was absolutely essential. While some have trouble diving right into 100% Paleo, Daryl took his troubles to the boards, got feedback from others who have walked the path, and simply made some tweaks to his diet to keep him on track.
Daryl remembered why he got healthy: We all have different reasons why we want to get fit. For some of us, it’s because we want to be better parents to our kids, for others it might be they want to develop confidence to start dating. What’s important is that we have a REASON – not “I should probably work out.” Daryl aimed to get fit for the military, which served as his driving force to start; eventually he realized that this motivation was actually just him wanting to be the type of person who is fit – like military people. In our minds, this motivation from within is a much more powerful “why” – doing something to build a stronger, leveled-up version of you. And as he started getting fit, his motivation changed; he now actually looks forward to exercising!
We’ve noticed this with almost ALL of our success stories 🙂
What’s Your “Why?”
We all need a reason to get healthy.
Whether you’re doing this to finally achieve a certain fitness feat, serve as a role model for friends or family, or to simply feel comfortable in your own skin, your “why” is a huge part of long term success.
What started as a simple revelation turned out to put Daryl on a path to reclaiming his life and building the character he chose to be. He surrounded himself (in real life and virtually) with people who wanted him to succeed. He had a plan, and put it to work.
And now he’s crushing adventure races, down 100 pounds, and excited about exercise.
Congrats Daryl, and thanks for sharing your story! Feel free to ask a question or leave a note of congratulations for Daryl in the comments!
PS: Although Daryl eventually purchased the training plans that Nerd Fitness offered (now part of the NF Academy), he started simple – following the free workout routines we have here. What’s important is that you pick a plan, even if it’s not perfect – and start! We’re all figuring things out as we go, and our motivations/goals change as we go. What’s important is to GET STARTED… yesterday, if possible, but today will have to do 🙂