Inspiration for change comes in many forms.
For one local man, the motivating factor for a complete health transformation was his children.
Brad Walker weighed over 325 lbs. back in fall 2011. He describes himself at that time as morbidly obese, inactive and unhealthy.
“Food was a comfort for me, a security blanket of sorts,” he comments. “My idea of a good time was movies, games, food and wine. I did no exercise to speak of.”
Walker found himself tiring after just a short time when playing with his young sons, Anden and Grayson.
He says, “It broke me apart that I wasn’t able to be the type of father I wanted because of the excess weight and poor physical health.”
Though the Woodinville man had tried diet and fad programs for the better part of the last 10 years, he was never able to achieve long lasting success. They would work initially, but then fizzle out.
He adds, “I would get emotional about something and would end up taking it out on a few burgers and some brownie ice cream. The landslide backwards would begin there and would last quite a while. It was like running in mud.”
This time, Walker vowed he would truly make a lifestyle change.
After seeing the documentary film, “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead,” he knew he had his “vessel.”
The movie, which is about an Australian man who reboots his life by juicing (fruits and veggies) his meals,” provided the necessary “aha” moment for Walker and he began his journey the next day.
He says, “I told myself I would try and juice every meal for five days and see how I felt. I did the five days and then did five more and then did 40 more. I ended up juicing three meals a day for 50 days — no solids, just the juice.”
He explains that in this manner, he removed all of his poor dietary habits from his routine and was at the “ground floor” in regards to adopting a new way of eating.
Walker began to slowly reintroduce solid foods to his diet, but he was careful not to add in the items that he did not need or want, including processed sugars, meats, dairy or white flour.
His diet today continues to be plant-based and he views food as fuel that allows him to be able to do the type of activity he enjoys.
In the 50 days of juicing, he shed 70 pounds and in the months that followed, he lost progressively less and less each week, but his body continued to shrink.
“I was also trading muscle for fat,” he explains, “so my loss on the scale was slowing way down, but my loss in the mirror and the clothing was still ticking off pretty good. I went from a size 44 pant and a 3X shirt to a 34 waist and a medium shirt.”
Going through the process, the Woodinville man comments that he derived satisfaction from the way he looked and felt overall, both physically and mentally.
He adds, “It was also about experiencing the pure joy of playing with my kids the way I wanted, which kept me motivated to continue.”
After juicing and getting his diet more in line, Walker decided to work on the activity side of the equation.
His first venture was to do a 2.5-mile run at lunch, which turned out to be more challenging than he expected.
He hacked, wheezed and walked a majority of the distance, taking nearly 38 minutes to complete the distance.
But, something compelled him to do it again the next day.
“I did it,” he says, “but it was just as awful, if not worse than day one. I then went online to research running techniques and tips and saw many posts that advised signing up for a 5K to establish a goal. I signed up for the UW Bothell 5K and trained five days a week for the run.”
Walker ran the race and did better than he expected with a time of 27:11.
He comments that showing up to the race was very intimidating and he was extremely nervous prior to the start, however, the energy of the environment and the spirit of the competition invigorated him.
“I literally burst into tears of joy as I crossed the finish line,” he says. “I was hooked and signed up for two more races and then five more.”
Walker didn’t stop there. He kept going, adding mileage to his training and eventually running a 10K, a half marathon and eventually, a full marathon.
“Running the Seattle Marathon was an absolute life changing event for me,” says the local man. “I was so very lucky to have great friends and family there at the finish line to cheer me on.”
Walker’s goal for 2013 is to run a total of 1,000 miles, including two full marathons and several other races throughout the year.
He would also like to enter into the “ultra world” and attempt a 50K (30 miles).
To be successful in his endeavors, he plans to lose another 20 pounds and work on toning and building more body strength.
Recently, Walker, who works in business development for Pacific Aluminum in Woodinville, became a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission for the City of Woodinville.
He explains that the impetus for this decision came from a desire to bring more outdoor and race events to the area.
He adds, “I would love to see Woodinville events drawing a crowd and introducing them to our amazing businesses and attractions. We have a hidden gem here and I want to do my part to help preserve it and to also cultivate positive growth.”
As for dispensing any suggestions or pearls of wisdom to others who struggle with issues such as weight loss, Walker has this to say: “The biggest advice I can offer to those who really want to make a huge change is to stop using temporary fixes on large scale issues like weight loss and illness that comes from being obese. It is not easy and there is no ‘one size fits all’ for getting it done. It takes full commitment and more importantly, finding something you can do. Something that worked for me was finding and reading stories of others who have done what I have done. Find them, read their stories and motivate yourself to create your own story for others. That is what I am doing. I am hoping others read this and are inspired to get the wheels in motion.”