Sponsored by American Family Insurance

This Gamer Stopped Playing With His Health and Became the ‘Get Fit Geek’

by Danny Bonvissuto
Share it:
This Gamer Stopped Playing With His Health and Became the ‘Get Fit Geek’

A little more than two years ago, at Comic Con in Kansas City, Scott Alvarez had his photo taken with Stephen Amell, the actor who plays Oliver Queen and the Green Arrow on the CW’s “Arrow.”

“He was there for one day, and I paid $50 to have my picture taken with him,” says Alvarez, who was 410 pounds at the time. “As I stood in line, I saw people moving through quickly and flashes going off every three seconds. I thought, ‘Is this going to be worth it?’”

When it was his turn, Stephen put his arm around him, they both smiled, the camera flashed and Alvarez walked away, thinking one thing: “That was freaking awesome.”

“I’ve never been starstruck before, and it was so cool to be that close to him,” says Alvarez. “Stephen uses his celebrity to help the causes that are near and dear to him. And, as a gay man, I can say he’s freaking hot, so that’s a draw as well.”

Shortly after it was taken, Alvarez received the picture — and immediately felt two very deep emotions. “The only thing I could see was how big I looked,” he says. “I hated having my picture taken, and anything that was taken was only of my face. That picture held great joy and incredible sadness because it was such a great moment, but it was also the first time I really saw myself and how big I’d gotten.”

While that picture spurred him to consider a big life change, Alvarez credits a health scare with getting him off the couch.


Every dreamer deserves support. Discover inspiring tips, tools and stories of dreamers like you to help kick-start your own dream pursuit.


In April 2015, Alvarez found himself in the emergency room with cellulitis on his leg, an infection of the skin and soft tissues beneath. The infection turned into massive blisters and forced him to spend a week in the hospital. Alvarez learned weight-related circulation issues — and hours spent playing “World of Warcraft” — had played a large part in his infection.

“I’ve always been a gamer/geek type person, but “World of Warcraft” was a complete time sink to me,” he says. “I’d lose whole weekends, Friday through Sunday, playing, and would only realize how much time had passed when I got hungry or had to go to the bathroom.”

After a second bout with cellulitis in July, Alvarez decided to put his love of electronics to work in a different direction. “I’m a gadget freak,” says the 44-year-old, whose blog, Get Fit Geek, tracks his weight-loss journey. “If I had to decide between food and water and the next cool gadget coming out, I’d seriously consider the next cool gadget.”

People think they have to walk five miles or do big stuff exercise-wise, not realizing that any movement burns a tremendous amount of calories.

He asked his husband, Shane, for an early birthday/Christmas present: an Apple watch, specifically for its color-coded move, stand and exercise rings that track daily movement patterns. “Everything clicked once I started to close those rings,” he says.

As a logistics team member for Target in his hometown of Topeka, Kansas, Alvarez was eligible for reimbursement from Weight Watchers, so he started there. “It was great, but I was eating to a number; I didn’t feel like I made any behavioral changes,” he says. “I tried MyFitnessPal and loved it. Not only did it allow me to keep track of my calories in and out, but it taught me about portion size and macros. When you go from just eating food to learning about the calories and nutrients in those foods, it’s a total eye opener.”

For the exercise component, Alvarez went online and did research on couch-to-5K running plans. The more he read, however, the better he understood the importance of simply moving more.

“In the beginning, when I was 400 pounds, I didn’t realize how many calories I could burn by doing simple things like walking,” he says. “People think they have to walk five miles or do big stuff exercise-wise, not realizing that any movement burns a tremendous amount of calories. I could walk 30 minutes and burn 700 calories in the beginning, even though I was winded and dead tired. Now, I would have to run about an hour at a six- or seven-mile pace.”

A few months later — and 40 pounds lighter — Alvarez tried a spin class. “Totally kicked my ass, but I kept up with it,” he says. “I also found Heath, a coach who helped me add some strength training to complement all the cardio I was doing. After losing another 40 pounds, I decided to add swimming to my routine. Once I got under 300 pounds, I decided to try jogging. Those first 100 pounds were about figuring out what worked for me.”

Today, with hard work, dedication and nearly 600 consecutive days of logging into MyFitnessPal, Alvarez has lost 180 pounds. “My initial goal was to weigh 200 pounds by my 45th birthday in December 2017, and I’m now down to 216 pounds. I had a secondary goal to get below 17 percent body fat and I’m now below that,” he says. “I’m finding the fun in being with people who are also into fitness. I’ve done most of the work so far alone. Now that I’m at the finish line, I need to find friends who like to do the same things I do now.”

Speaking of finish lines, Alvarez completed a half marathon in Olathe, Kansas, this spring in just under 2 and a half hours and is now setting new goals, including doing half marathons on back-to-back weekends and a full marathon. Eventually, he wants to venture into triathlons and is even considering an Ironman-distance race.

“It was the most amazing experience of my life,” he says of his first half marathon. “I was never the athletic kid growing up, but having my family there to cheer me on was … the one and only time I have cried during this entire journey. And it was only partially because I hurt so bad from running 13.1 miles.”

At this year’s Comic Con, Alvarez was back in line to have this picture taken with Amell once again. This time, however, he was 179 pounds lighter.

“I brought the picture we’d taken together in 2015, held it up and flexed when they snapped the shot,” he says. “I was getting ready to walk away when Stephen told me to hold on and gave me a big bear hug. He said, ‘You’re incredible. I’m so proud of you.’”

Written by Danny Bonvissuto, a lover of words, writing for a living, independent bookstores, chips, salsa and queso, sunshine, jeans, tank tops and running — but only if ’80s rock is involved. Her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Food Network Magazine, HGTV, WebMD and Plate magazine.

Related

  • Tammy rauen

    Scott, thanks for sharing your story! You are truly amazing! Your dedication to your health is inspiring. You have a new life and you’re doing new things!

    • nerdbear

      Thanks! Still seems odd that I would enjoy running 13 miles. Let alone try and go 26 next year.

  • Subhashini J

    Congratulations !!!! Your persistence and determination have paid off well… I draw great inspiration from you…. All the best as you continue on this journey….

    • nerdbear

      Thank you very much. I still strive to be even more fit every week.

  • Lisa

    This was such a wonderful read. Congratulations Scott, I am so happy for you!

    • nerdbear

      Thank you very much. Still seems like a dream sometimes.

  • jststric

    Have to admit that as I scrolled past this story, I stopped and thought, “Hey! That’s Steephen Amell!” and stopped to read the story. Being a KS girl myself, living in Michigan now, it struck another chord with me being “from home.” And being on my own weight-loss journey now…..very inspirational. I’ve hit a wall and I’m far from being done. I know this stupid computer, while being a real blessing, is a big part of why I am the way I am. Too common is the realization that “just a minute” actually turned into the fastest hour of my life. Thanks for sharing, Scott.

    • nerdbear

      How has your weight loss journey been progressing?

      • jststric

        Still going. Often challenging but I haven’t given up this time like I always do. Thanks for asking!

  • TKLBC

    Great Story! I will use this to inspire me on my journey. Thanks

    • nerdbear

      Good luck on your journey. #yougotthis

  • Amanda

    You are a great inspiration. Congratulations on your life changes.
    Amanda

  • KFF

    Congratulations!! Keep pushing forward. If it was easy everyone would do it.

    • nerdbear

      Ain’t that for damn sure. Every day I try to be the best version of me I can.

  • Nancy

    Great story and even better results! Keep it up! Thank you for sharing your journey.

    • nerdbear

      You are welcome. It’s been a long one for sure but damn I feel so much better now.

  • nerdbear

    UPDATE Nov 2017: This past weekend I completed my second half marathon with a PR of 2:14:14. This was over 12 minutes faster than my first attempt back in April. I was able to increase my average pace from 11:11 min/mi to 10:14 min/mi. I am now signed up for my first full marathon in April. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9f091248371e00b0bf08d228a6552d08e0a5ab0f3c26bc2c91cbbfd02a182e27.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c53327e7fd2a344346cf7f2001d9385fd5d752801e10b7a335c8953732fffec5.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/5250b27707000839f004d36f55c951407cd2695677bc3abe0ac01c2c971b5587.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3d661e45494fa7281698468fbc0d0ec6abd282a1ffd30a30828ce8edb79cacf9.png

  • magebear

    As a just-shy-of-500 geeky bear, this is seriously inspiring!

    • nerdbear

      Thank you. I like to think if this geeky bear can do it anyone can. LOL

  • Justin Ham

    I’ve lost 29 pounds in 3 months by running and various exercises and feel great and better about myself and still have time to play games. You shouldn’t think that just because someone plays games means they are all unhealthy and fat.

    • nerdbear

      Not at all. And games in moderation helps me keep my mind off of snacking. LOL

  • SaintStryfe

    This is painfully close to me. Same starting range, same feelings, same cellulitis scare. Apple Watch helps me too. I started end of August and I’m down 26 pounds tracked (I didn’t track the first month, I think I lost about 15-20 in that time). I hope I can keep it up too.

    • nerdbear

      You got this! Just keep your mindset on improving every day and you will succeed. You already have honestly. Great job with the pounds already dropped.