Allow me to be immodest for a moment.

I’ve worked pretty hard this year to get fit, and I’m finally starting to see the result. I like it. By chance, I’ve posed for three photographers in 2010, about four months apart. That means I have visual documentation of my progress, which I’m proudly sharing below.

January 1st – 213 pounds (35% body fat, 30% muscle)
photo by J.D. Roth

At the start of the year, I weighed more than I ever had in my life. And I felt awful. I couldn’t sleep. Walking uphill to my office was taxing. I was stressed, and I ate to cope with it. It wasn’t good. I resolved to make 2010 the Year of Fitness, but I was slow to start. Here’s how I looked on our jungle vacation in late February:

Me in a Hammock in Belize
Here I am, lounging in a hammock in Belize. I am fat.

April 1st – 207 pounds (33% body fat, 31% muscle)
photos by Gabby Francis

My first photo session this year was with Gabby Francis, a Get Rich Slowly reader who e-mailed offering to take my photo. Gabby works as a production assistant in television, but wants to branch out into photography. She was very patient with me, and it was fun to chat with her while we worked. But I was more than a little uncomfortable. I hated how I looked and felt. In three months of trying, I’d lost only four pounds.

photo by Gabby Francis
I’ve been using this as my primary publicity photo.

photo by Gabby Francis
Let’s be very clear: I hate how heavy I am in these photos.

photo by Gabby Francis
This is me trying to be happy. It was tough.

July 23rd – 187 pounds (27% body fat, 34% muscle)
photos by David Hobby

You’ll remember David Hobby from my tale of win-win conflict resolution: I stole one of his photos from the web; he suggested a creative solution for restitution, and ever since we’ve been supporting each other. He’s a good guy. He’s also a pro, running Strobist, a giant among photo blogs.

When David told me he was going to be in Portland and wondered if he could shoot some photos of me, I was happy to agree. I’d lost 20 pounds since the photo shoot with Gabby, which allowed me to feel more relaxed in front of the camera.

photo by David Hobby
David’s a pro. I like that he specifically told me not to smile.

photo by David Hobby
“How about something at the table with you rolling pennies?” David asked. “Like a LOT of ’em.”

photo by David Hobby
“Would it be too much trouble to have you take a photo of both of us?” Kris asked.

Aside from the fact that I chose to wear the same shirts for David as I did for Gabby (what was I thinking?), I like how these turned out. I was still heavy, but the weight loss was starting to become apparent.

November 18th – 175 pounds (24% body fat, 36% muscle)
photos by Amy Jo Woodruff

My friend Amy Jo is an editor — but she wants to be a photographer when she grows up. After seeing her photos of Lisa, I agreed to pose for her too. This was my favorite photo shoot so far. I haven’t yet lost all of the weight I want to lose, but I’ve shed most of it. I no longer have those chubby cheeks or the bags under my eyes!

photo by Amy Jo Woodruff
“You can’t sit there,” said Amy Jo. “There’s a weird light across your eyes.” Psycho-killer!

photo by Amy Jo Woodruff
Now officially my favorite photo of myself. I can retire the one I’ve been using since 1999.

Amy Jo asked me to list fourteen words that I feel best describe me. I gave her this list:

  • Adventurous – I love to try new things.
  • Creative – I love to make new things.
  • Curious – I love to learn new things.
  • Evolving – I’m a different man today than I was yesterday.
  • Independent – I make and act on my own decisions.
  • Intelligent – I am smart.
  • Playful – I like to joke and jest.
  • Positive – I look on the bright side.
  • Resourceful – I search for ways to get things done.
  • Sociable – I enjoy the company of others.
  • Tenacious – I pursue my goals with vigor
  • Unguarded – I share myself freely, and I accept the word of others.
  • Versatile – I am good at many things.
  • Zealous – I’m passionate about my friends and hobbies.

“It’s funny,” she said as we were walking to the park. “Whenever adults do this exercise, all of their words are positive.”

I laughed. “Yeah,” I said. “Kris told me that she could think of some other words to describe me. Like ‘obsessed’. I told her that’s why ‘zealous’ is on the list.”

I have negative attributes, just like everyone else. I’m sure you all could name them. But I don’t think it’s productive to dwell on them. Instead, I like to focus on my strengths, and let those guide my life. Dwelling on the negative is a sure path to misery. I don’t want to be miserable.

photo by Amy Jo Woodruff
Welcome to middle age, my friend.

photo by Amy Jo Woodruff
I love in-jokes. This one’s for all of those who’ve read Foldedspace since the beginning.

So, to summarize: Since the start of the year:

  • I’ve lost 40 pounds.
  • I’ve dropped from 35% body fat to 24% body fat.
  • I’ve increased my muscle mass from 30% to 36%.
  • I no longer use my C-PAP machine.
  • I can run faster and farther than I ever have in my life.
  • I can lift more weight, too.
  • And most of the time, I don’t crave ice cream. (Just don’t look at my work area right now, though!)

My physical transformation hasn’t happened by chance. It’s taken hard work and dedication. But I’m starting to believe I really have made a lifestyle change. I want to exercise more now, not less. It sucks when I don’t get a workout in. (And somedays, like I hope to do tomorrow, I actually work out twice.)

So, do I think Crossfit works? Hell, yeah!

Before   After

Maybe if I keep it up, when I’m 91 I can be like Olga Kotelko.

11 Replies to “What I Did This Year”

  1. Heather says:

    Congratulations! It’s not easy to get started, but once it starts to pay off, it feeds itself, doesn’t it? Great work! I’m glad you took the time and space to be immodest 🙂

    Also, I love your new favorite photo!

  2. Henrik Wist says:

    Wow, that is awesome! You look great and anyone denying that weight-loss is worth it should read this post. While I have lost enough to be at my goal weight, my body is still nowhere near where I want it to be fitness wise. Your post motivated me to continue the journey! Thanks!

  3. Eileen says:

    I really appreciate your honesty and candor about your weight loss. You have to realize though, that you’re kind of hot, and when you post all these hot photos of yourself, people like me are going to leave comments like this one.

  4. snowy says:

    Inspiring and honest. You look very handsome, well done on all the hard work.

  5. Congratulations. What an accomplishment … you must be so happy. Most things in life take time, energy, investment, focus … prioritization. And they take a heck of a lot of little, tiny steps. The steps seem like nothing changes at first, but then, with dedication and time, you find yourself 8, 9, 10 months later with changes in front of you.

    Keep up the hard work. It’s really inspiring to see how much you’re enjoying exercise, too. The benefits are cumulative – and I find that the daily run, walk, jog, swim, or whatever (even twice a day!) does marvels for creativity, mental health, happiness, thinking, clarity … all of it. It’s all good stuff. Again, well done.

  6. Claudia Gates says:

    You look fantastic! I love the new slimmer you. The picture of you wearing the cap, with the autumn tree in the background is great. I’m sure Kris finds you very sexy. Can a Mother – Law say that? Keep up the hard work for it really is working. You are inspiring me; guess I’ll go get on the treadmill.

  7. Leah says:

    excellent! You’ve made great progress 🙂 Keep up the hard work. I appreciate getting to see the pictures. I lost just 15 pounds this year, and I love looking at pics from earlier versus recent pics and marveling at the change.

    I’ve been reading your other blogs for quite awhile but just hopped over here for the first time. I am so glad to see that you’ve found something that works for you.

  8. Kevin M says:

    JD, I really appreciate this piece as I’m making 2011 my Year of Fitness/Health. Congrats on your progress, the pictures are fantastic, I’m going to treat myself to something like that if I reach my goals.

  9. Awesome! This is a big morale booster for me.

  10. Lauren says:

    I think this is the first time I’ve been over to your non$ blog and I have to say this is an inspiring post!

    5 years ago I was in excellent health and happy. Two years ago I was at my fattest, not to healthy and very unhappy. Something finally tipped me over the edge and this April I started running. I’ve come a long way and do look and feel better, but I’ve not lost that much weight. Which means its time to look at what’s going in my mouth.

    I like your idea of a goal (vs. resolution) – so now I just need to figure out what that is for me. Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. Jon Wilson says:

    Great job JD on losing weight…however, I recommend losing the hat also…

    BTW…I am on the P90X system and it works for me!

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