09.06.2012Personal Tech

How I Lost More Than 100 Pounds With the Help of Technology

This is a guest post from Ron Denney, wireless consultant at the Verizon Wireless Lima, OH store.

I'll never forget September 10, 2011, for a couple of reasons. It was the first time I had ever seen a regular season game in Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes just squeaked past Toledo that day.

However, the walk back to the car that afternoon would be what sticks in my mind more. It was this day that I decided it was time to embark on a journey that would change my life. At the time, I weighed roughly 340 pounds. My buddy and I were parked more than a mile away from the Horseshoe.

When the game was over, we began the long trek back to the car. My buddy, who is in good shape, was able to do the walk with no problems. As for me, not so much. Between the walk to the stadium, walking around the stadium to get pictures, walking up the steps to get to our section and the actual climb up the bleachers to the seats themselves, I was tired, slow, winded and could not keep up. My friend playfully poked fun at me for not being able to keep up, but his playful jabs were just reinforcement that I needed to do something about my weight.

With the heart condition I have, I knew I had to do plenty of research and find the diet that would work best for me. I began to look at several different ways in which one can diet. Everything from South Beach Diet, Adkins, Weight Watchers, pills, etc. Everything seemed complicated, overpriced and (frankly) too hard to do.

That's when I realized that I work for a technology company, and asked myself, “What kind of technology does Verizon offer that can assist me?” A coworker showed me an app called MyFitnessPal. It allowed me to set a weight loss goal, gave me a calorie goal to stay under for the day, allowed me to track the amount of calories I burned working out and share my results with friends. It was a God send! I used it every day. With that, I was on my way.

I called it my "Journey to a Better Life," and that theme has helped keep me going from day one of this process. If I wanted to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself (live a long life, raise a healthy family and live to retire and see grandkids), then something needed to be done at age 25…or I was never going to see age 35. My parents were scared they would bury me, instead of me burying them.

After a few weeks, my coworkers were giving me compliments about how much better I was looking. I didn't notice it at first and thought they were being polite. Then I noticed that the frequency at which I was hiking my pants up was increasing more and more every day. Shirts were fitting better, pants were looser and I wasn't as tired as I used to be at the end of the day.

My confidence grew, and I began to make less self-deprecating jokes about myself. I was in a rhythm – a routine. I felt more comfortable in my own skin. As every pound melted away, it was like I could feel the extra years of my life being added on. I would take my smartphone to the gym with me, not just to listen to music, but to look up different workouts and strength exercises so I could tone up and slim down.

I bought an armband, Bluetooth and wired earpieces, would mess around with the MotoACTV demo in our store and downloaded other apps that helped me focus on my ultimate goal.

Some of my coworkers and friends noticed the change and began to follow my lead. One coworker, an Army veteran, saw my success and decided to take on Weight Watchers so he could get back down to what he weighed in the Army. My cousin, who had been working out and getting in shape before I started, continued to push herself and began pushing her husband to get into shape, as well. Even my dad started taking more walks and riding his bike around the block to get more active after I showed him how easy MyFitnessPal is to use.

Another coworker (and one of my closest friends) saw how motivated I was to lose weight and used it as her motivation to rediscover her love of running. She entered 5K’s, 10K’s and has even done a half marathon – all this summer! To date, she has done 12 races since March 2012 and still has more on her calendar.

She always tells me I’ve been a big reason why she started running again, and seeing how fired up she is running has given me the “running bug”, as well. After months of her begging me to enter a 5K, I plan on entering my first one in October – one year after I started this journey. With my heart condition, I can’t run the whole thing, but I’ve committed myself to train the whole next month so I can be physically prepared for it when it arrives.

I never thought I would enter a 5K event. My friend showed me a couple of apps that are helping me train. Runner’s World SmartCoach lets me put in how much training time I have and what pace I want to train at and customizes a training plan for each week so I can build to my 5K in a healthy fashion. MapMyWalk tracks the pace of my walks and jogs, does a GPS map of my route, tells me through my earpiece my distance and pace and uploads this information to my Facebook and Twitter pages for my friends to see. I can even log on to the website and see all my previous workouts and the total number of miles I’ve gone. I use these apps almost every day to get myself ready for this next goal.

The point of all this is to say that when you set a goal, no matter how hard it may seem, go and get it. My goal was, at first, to lose about 70 pounds. I've lost more than 100. Everyone says things like "I need to lose weight," or "I'm going to take up exercise.” Well, when you say it, it's just words. As the saying goes: "Actions speak louder than words."

I've learned throughout the last 10 months that when you truly want to commit to doing something, you have to dig deep, find the motivation and just do it. Set goals and priorities, and hold yourself accountable for those goals. I chose a quiet Healthy Choice meal at home instead of cold beers and wings at the local bar with my friends on more occasions than I would have before October. I had to resist the siren song of fast food after a rough day of work for the not as satisfying call of celery and strawberry juice and plain grilled chicken breast. I've pushed my mind and body harder and further than I ever thought was possible – all this to accomplish the goals of living longer, making sure my heart stays in a good working order and to be a more attractive and self-confident man.

The thought of losing 100 pounds didn't even cross my mind at first. Now that I've done it, it feels great to surpass a goal I didn't initially have and then set newer, more challenging goals to achieve. I did it with hard work and determination. No surgery, no pills, no “magic bullet.” Without the technology help that I’ve received from Verizon Wireless, I’m not sure if I would have made it to where I am today.

Have words of encouragement for Ron? Leave them in the comments!

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