Diet & Food

He Wanted to Be a Healthier Role Model for His Kids, So He Ran Off 190 Pounds

Name: Daniel Hertel
Age: 28
Hometown: Buffalo

Start Weight: 378 pounds
End Weight: 188 pounds
Time Running: 10 months

Before I went on my weight-loss journey, I weighed nearly 400 pounds. Because of this, I was always out of breath and tired—not to mention my blood sugar was elevated to levels that were pre-diabetic. I couldn’t ride certain rides at amusement parks. I had been yo-yo dieting since I was 11 years old. I joined gyms, went consistently for a week or two, and then quit.

I hit my heaviest weight of 378 pounds when I was 26. At this weight I wasn’t able to do too much physical exercise, so I opted to have gastric sleeve surgery in December 2019 to help kickstart my weight-loss journey. That year, leading up to and right after the surgery, I lost about 100 pounds and still had a lot of work to do.

In February 2020, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. For six months after I started having seizures and got my diagnosis, I could not drive or live a ‘normal’ life. My son had started to walk, and I was having trouble keeping up with him. And my wife was expecting again. I had been losing weight, but it was time for me to make some health changes so I could be an active parents with my kids.

Around this time, most gyms closed due to COVID-19, so I thought running would be the best way for me to start exercising. I had always seen people posting pictures of their race medals and thought, “I want to do that.” On April 1, 2020, I went for my first run. Thirty seconds later, I had to stop. I run-walked to about a 13-minute mile.

I kept going, running three times a week using the C25K app. Slowly, I ditched the app and started using my own method when I was able to run for 20 minutes at a time without stopping for a breather.

This has picked up over the months. I’m still running three to four days a week with one long run. It’s winter now in Buffalo, so do shorter runs mostly on the treadmill, and I gear up for the cold for long runs outside if the weather is somewhat decent. All of this has helped me progress as a runner and in my weight-loss journey, but it wasn’t just exercising that contributed to my success.

While doing all of this after my gastric sleeve surgery, I also adjusted my eating habits. Previously, I was eating basically whatever I wanted, when I wanted. I drank soda everyday, and Ididn’t think or care about the calories I was consuming.

These days, I’m very conscious of serving sizes. I count calories and macros. I eat plenty of protein, I eliminated most added sugar from my diet, and I log everything I eat. Doing this meant I didn’t need to cut any foods out to lose weight. Honestly, to me, you can eat whatever you want. It just needs to be in moderation.

Making a habit out tracking also held me accountable and motivated me to stay on track. The more I did it, the more I noticed I was subconsciously picking healthier foods and correcting my portion size. Soon, I was doing it because I wanted to and that is a great feeling to have.

Because of running, eating better, and my surgery, I have lost a total of 190 pounds. Running has been not only beneficial to my life physically, it has also helped me relieve stress and improve my mental health.

Unfortunately because of the pandemic, I haven’t been able to participate in any races yet. I am still running though with hopes to sign up for a virtual race or an in-person half marathon in the spring. I have a training plan, which has been what has really helped me continue going. Having goals and crossing them off is so satisfying. It would be amazing be one of the people with a race medal photo.

Running has not only helped accelerate my weight loss, it has also helped me with stress relief and my mental health. It has allowed me to really do something for myself and allows me the time to think. Plus, I feel good about my running. I can run a mile in under eight minutes. I used to wear a size 50 pant, and now I wear a size 32. I never thought I’d be able to do this, but here I am.

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