113: Eric Hunley: The Song That Changed His Health & Life

Eric used to hate running, and considered himself anti-jocks.

Hear how one song changed his future, and the importance of taking action before feeling “ready.”

 

“Small chunks and little victories.”

“They can only mess with you so much before lunch.”

Eric was not a fan of basic training in the military, and these quotes reminded him to take things one step at a time, and to focus on just getting through the next part of the day. Eric finds this strategy can help you keep from becoming overwhelmed.

Weight Gain Background and Contributing Factors

Eric’s weight crept on after the military, and accelerated in 2005 when he quit smoking cold turkey due to an illness. Eric’s known peak weight at the beginning of his weight loss journey was 283 pounds. (128.6 kg)

Eric had a higher metabolism when he was younger. As Eric quit smoking, he let himself eat and drink whatever he wanted, and he feels his metabolism “crashed” in the process.

On weight gain, Eric says: “I feel like you have to own it.”

How Being Overweight Impacted Eric’s Life

“Having to do little tricks to tie your shoes is embarrassing.”

Eric recalls noticing that he was too heavy to climb up his attic’s stairs while he was carrying anything, and he felt shocked that he weighed more than the weight limit listed on a utility stool.

Eric was tired of things like taking the stairs at work with a coworker, and trying to pretend that he wasn’t winded.

The Turning Point

Eric had not tried to lose weight before, but says that his weight just wore on him. To make the health change Eric had to battle his nature of being a procrastinator.

“I knew what I was doing. I knew that I wasn’t eating well, and I knew I’d have to stop. I just didn’t want to.”

On January 3, 2012, Eric set out to change things and began monitoring what he was eating.

Starting The Weight Loss Journey

Eric began using My Fitness Pal to track his calories. Eric is a web programmer, and he describes My Fitness Pal as such a good app that “I feel guilty that I can’t pay them for it.”

Before this point, Eric used to eat two bacon/egg/cheese biscuits for breakfast and fast food for lunch. Without eliminating entire food groups, Eric now reduced his carbs, focused on portion control, and swapped out higher calorie meats for leaner cuts.

He and his wife prepare food ahead of time—for example, they put seasonings on boneless, skinless chicken thighs and combination freeze/marinate them in bags—and then thaw portions to grill for dinner.

Exercise

Eric bought a Fit Bit and tried to get up to 10,000 steps every day. Eric describes himself as “extremely OCD,” so for him, monitoring his exact steps and calories was kind of like a numbers game.

He started to use his treadmill at home, and watched The Biggest Loser while he walked. Eric used that treadmill until the motor burned up.

“Gym memberships and at home gym equipment [aren’t] made for people to use—[they’re] made for people to have.”

Eric and his wife decided to buy an elliptical trainer, and while they were waiting for it to be delivered—and almost despite himself—Eric began walking outside.

One day on a walk, a Deep Purple song woke something inside of Eric that made him pick up his pace. He was unable to “just walk.” A jog turned into a run, and soon he was doing exactly what he abhorred most about his time in the Army.

First he ran a few blocks at a time, then a mile, then two miles, and then pushed himself just a little bit farther each session. For burning calories, Eric says:

“Running gives you more bang for buck than anything out there.”

His enjoyment in running outside and encouragement from his nephew led Eric to entering and running a 5K race in the spring of 2013.

Challenges and Staying Motivated

Eric knows that he needs continual motivation for him to keep off the weight that he has lost, and running is the technique he uses. As of this recording, Eric has run 26 races, including a marathon. A lot of obstacles Eric faced were self-created, such as over-training.

Eric used his elliptical trainer when he had injuries, and encourages others with hindrances to “try and take it as an opportunity,” and find something else they can do for exercise.

What Eric Learned About Food, Exercise, and Himself

In the past Eric couldn’t have imagined himself as an exerciser or athlete. He felt anyone who exercised as much as he currently does was “a jock,” and he felt negatively about that stereotype.

Now he feels exactly the reverse, and completely admires folks who get out and try to get healthy, starting at any level. He is in awe when he meets people that train and run a marathon at a slower pace.

“Do you know how hard it is to run for 6 hours? …that’s freaking amazing!”

Eric shares his experience meeting a contestant from the Biggest Loser show (Abby Rike) handing out awards at a race. He was able to tell her how he used to watch her for motivation while walking on his treadmill.

Just as Eric was inspired by Abby, Eric’s boss was inspired by him, and ended up dropping a lot of weight.

Maintenance

Eric lost 10 pounds in the first few weeks of changing his diet, and in just over a year, he dropped about 75 pounds. (34.1 kg)

He is currently training for the Outer Banks Marathon this November, and is also working to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Eric is 6’2”and his weight currently hovers around 195 pounds (88.6 kg); he continues to track his calories and steps every day.

Eric’s Advice For Your Journey

Eric thinks that when people are beginning a healthier lifestyle they want it “now!” and may go for it too intensely, which can sometimes lead to injuries and problems.

“Don’t try to do too much too quickly…tackle one thing.”

Eric shares a concept from Adam Corolla, which is to “act as if” you are healthy, you are fit. Think about what a fit person would list as their habits, and emulate those. The first small steps Eric advises for people to take are to watch your food intake, and aim for 10,000 steps every day.

Eric’s parting advice is to keep in mind:

“You’re not made of stone, you’re changeable.”

Resources Discussed In This Podcast

On Eric’s Workout Playlist

Contacting Eric

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