How One Man Went from Average to Athlete (You Can Do It, Too!)

by Jacob Warwick
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How One Man Went from Average to Athlete (You Can Do It, Too!)

Where do I begin? My name is Jacob Warwick, and I believe in fitness.

It hasn’t always been that way. A little over 2 years ago, I was a bit heftier than average. I was 22 years old, working a typical 9 to 5 office job, and enjoying a lazy diet. I began to pack on the pounds—50 of them to be exact.

My daily menu consisted of value meals, sugary caffeine drinks, and generally processed crap. Go figure, I felt like crap, too—sluggish, slow, and all-around blah! I had no idea that my choices were negatively affecting my health. I thought that I couldn’t afford to eat healthy foods. I thought that I didn’t have time to cook a proper meal. I thought that fitness fanatics were over-the-top and smug. But everything I thought was wrong.

The Wake Up Call
Despite my general lack of feeling positive or confident, it wasn’t until my close friend had invited me to visit him in Europe, that I thought about becoming healthy. My buddy, a competitive open-wheel driver overseas, had been an athlete his entire life. I thought I was going to visit him and play tourist. But, again, I thought wrong.

After arriving in London, my friend invited me to workout with his personal trainer—boy was I in for it! This was not a 1-hour gym session filled with lackadaisical elliptical trotting and frequent water stops. No, this was outright insanity.  I discovered that my buddy pushed through a 2-hour morning session, and another 2-hour evening session at the gym nearly everyday. I was traumatized. I watched from a distance, struggling to jog-walk a mile on a treadmill, while he and his trainer dominated the gym.

I got a big reality check when the trainer had me jump on a scale. 242 lbs.—gulp! I had so many questions, but mostly I felt shocked. How did I not see this happening? How had I let myself get to this point? My shame and embarrassment were unsettling.

After sharing a quick laugh to cut the tension, the trainer asked about my nutrition habits, activity levels, and fitness goals. He recommended I keep track of my calories and macronutrients with MyFitnessPal, and offered up some simple healthy habits that I could stick with.

Getting Started
One of the most difficult challenges I faced while implementing healthy changes into my life was simply finding the courage to get started. I craved change, but when it was time to take action I felt like something was holding me back. I had to overcome that little voice that told me it would be easier to just do what I normally do.

I decided to step back and slow down. I wasn’t going to get into peak physical condition like my buddy overnight. And I know I’m not perfect, so I needed to start small. Here are the three easy goals I chose to focus on to help me turn over a healthy new leaf and maintain motivation.

1. Wake up earlier They say, “The early bird gets the worm.” And I decided I needed to get up, and get that worm! This may have been one of the most difficult challenges for me, but I quickly learned that to fit a workout into my day I needed to stop drooling on my pillow and wake up earlier. I set my alarm to shout, “GET OUT OF BED!” for a jolt of early morning motivation—and it worked. It was an immense struggle at first, but after a couple of weeks I noticed I was more alert and prepared for other daily challenges.

2. Drink water Water is so important—it makes up roughly 60% of our bodies, and I’ve noticed that starting my day with this one healthy habit helps me make better choices in other areas, too. Dehydration has been shown to slow metabolism, and I knew if I wanted to lose weight I would need my body to be running optimally. Right when I get out of bed, I grab a glass of cool water and drink; I aim to drink 16 ounces right off the bat. I feel more satiated throughout the day—not a bad side effect!

3. Walk That’s it. Just put one foot in front of the other. I once interviewed an endurance runner who had completed 32 miles of a 100-mile race. “How do you do it?” I asked. She responded, “It’s simple really—it’s just one foot in front of the other.” It seems too simple to be true, but I started using her advice daily. And now, here I am today, no longer 50 pounds over weight with plans to conquer an Ironman triathlon.

Want to learn more about how I went from Average to Athlete? Stay tuned for my next post!

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  • Rick

    Way to go Jacob! Keep up the good work!

  • Sara

    Great article! Especially agree with #1 – it makes a big difference

    • It has made such a big impact in my life. Especially being more alert at work, which has increased my job performance and career path. It may seem a bit silly, but I have had nothing but success with it.

  • TripleA

    Great article! I think I should do #1 as well, but I’m just not a morning person – never have been. But I do believe getting in a workout in the morning would be so beneficial. Ok, I’m going to try it tomorrow. Thanks for the inspiration!!!

    • You rock! I was far from a morning person as well, but when I get up early (Not perfect still) I can skip the morning coffee and get moving!

  • Steven

    Very interesting article. I spent years dieting and trying to exercise on and off. It wasn’t until I started properly keeping track of everything I ate, Then I started to see exactly what calories, fat etc I was consuming. Bit of a shock but it lead me to making better choices and trying to increase my intake of vitamins, protein, iron etc which I knew I was lacking a lot of. It also help me want to workout more and keep track of how often I was doing it. Im actually enjoying my current lifestyle and don’t see it as diet and exercise but just normal routine.

    • Making a routine that works for you is so crucial into long term health. I could not recommend it more. Well done Steven!

  • Stephen Doerk

    As I get older I find I am having a hell of a time getting motivated to do things like this, to this degree.. But I know I need to because I am getting older. I find that I am holding onto weight around the mids (the hard area for most guys to lose I believe) and need to drop a good 50+ myself, but running is not a passion at all.. trying to do at least a good half mile every few days, but I think tracking the food is the key. I am interested to read more about how you do it, especially making food as opposed to doing the quick fast food drive by as it does seem more expensive to me to cook.. Need my eyes opened to the reality!!

    • Running is not a passion of mine either. I actually only started doing it to punish myself, and to achieve some goals for other people (essentially wanted them to see that it is possible to get marathons done, look even I could do it)

      Tracking the food is really key, and to avoid the fast food drive, preparation is key. I will write an article on food preparation and how it got me through a tough time. Cooking for one is so difficult as well! Look for some meal prepping and planning guides in the meantime, and good luck Stephen!

      • Stephen Doerk

        Looking forward to it!

  • Steve Rochford

    First, I was inspired by the TV show American Ninja Warrior. Then, my brother decided he’d had enough of being unhealthy and started using myfitnesspal. I followed suit and have gotten off to a good start. I find that tracking calories is easier than I thought.

    Though I know I won’t be conquering any crazy televised obstacle courses any time soon, I have been losing weight (started at 265, down to 253). Exercise wise, I’ve been walking too. About 5 miles (avg 3.3mph).

    Your blog post is an interesting one to me, because for me it is not so lofty. You aren’t trying to get to the olympics, you’re just trying to do something athletic (in your case participate in Ironman). Totally reasonable!

    I’m looking forward to your next post.

    • Funny you mention American Ninja Warrior, my manager is trying to get me to train for it! I want to do an ironman first though!

      The training has been one of the hardest challenges that I have been overtaking, and all of your positive comments and motivation, keep me inspired! Thanks guys!

  • Pingback: Average to Athlete: The Problem With “Skinny” (& How to Set Healthy Goals) ‹ Hello Healthy()

  • Contessa

    I use to workout first thing in the morning but switching jobs to a much better one and having three kids it seems impossible to do so now. I’m already up at 4:30am for work and there by 5:30. I don’t see myself being able to get up much earlier than that, any suggestions on ways to get a jump start I. The mornings without a full workout in? Maybe little things?

    • How about a lunch break? A brief walk or frequent trips up stairs. You can be creative and add many small things into your regimen. Have you been reading the other MyFitnessPal blogs?

  • ellie

    great article. congratulations on your new health lifestyle! Your buddy did you a great favor. Enjoy your ironman! Good luck.

  • Dana

    I have an office job and I’m wondering what meal plans you used that worked well with your office job?