Emil Lost 125lbs and Hiked His Way to Health
One of the things I love about the internet is it connects you to people you otherwise would never have connected with. It exposes you to stories you wouldn’t have otherwise seen.
One such connection and story I recently came across was that of Emil. He has had, like many of our other transformation stories, a staggering change in how he looks. An impressive before and after, for sure.
But the thing that stuck with me was he achieved his transformation in a not so typical way: Hiking!
I contacted him through my twitter account and we started chatting. I invited him to come and share his journey with us, which he was more than happy to do.
Below Emil shares how he hiked his way to better health
Why did you decide to transform your body?
When I arrived in Tyrol, the heart of the Austrian Alps, to pursue my master’s degree I was fat. I had been gaining weight for about ten years, but because I wasn’t like this until my late teens, I didn’t really see myself as obese.
I imagined I could still do all the things that I did before I got fat. Of course, the truth was very different.
I was 327 pounds and that reality was dramatically brought to light when I attempted my first hike.
It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.
I stopped every few minutes and gasped for air while older people and children were having no problem at all. I saw the judgemental and condescending looks on their faces.
I decided no matter how bad the temporary embarrassment would be, I had to get in shape.
What was the diet plan or strategy that guided your transformation?
I didn’t choose a particular diet. The thing that decided my diet for me was my budget. I was a student and could not afford all the usually recommended stuff like fresh vegetables, fish, fruits, and so on.
What I decided to do was to count my calories, This way I could eat cheap food as long as my intake was not going over the limit I had set. Of course, I still tried to eat as healthy as possible.
Rice played a big role in my diet. I would boil one cup with a bit of salt and eat that for lunch and dinner. Lentils are a great substitute for meat and very affordable, so I would often eat those too.
I wanted to include more salads in my diet, but the ingredients were a little pricey, so what I did was to go to supermarkets in the afternoon and buy stuff that expired that day for half price. This way I was able to add more variety to my food.
Did exercise play any role in your transformation? If so, What?
Exercise played the determining role in my transformation – Hiking to be more precise. I started with some urban hiking. Going up some small hills in the city and just walking around the city. After that I started going on increasingly more difficult trails.
I would always set objectives for myself and never stopped until I reached them, no matter how tough it got. In a few months I had gained substantial muscle mass on my legs and buttocks and I had lost 10’s of pounds.
I found it much more enjoyable to go out there surrounded by nature than to go to a gym.
After awhile I decided to start running. I hesitated to do this in the beginning as to not damage my knees. But after I lost about 90 pounds I thought I would give it a try and it grew on me, and now, I really enjoy it.
Finally, in order to build my upper body I decided to join a mixed martial arts gym. I always loved contact sports and I preferred this to a regular gym because I wanted my body to be flexible-fit and not the bulky gym-fit type.
There’s nothing like a few good punches to keep you grounded and focused. If you’re in a fight you can’t just quit when you feel tired, you need to keep those arms up! – Emil
Did you find you became obsessed with food? How did you deal with that?
I try to never go to extremes, so I was not really obsessed with food. The first few weeks were the hardest until my appetite shrunk.
At first I was so hungry in the evenings but then it gradually went away. Whenever I felt hungry but it wasn’t time to eat yet, I would drink water. It buys you some time and keeps you from going on a rampage.
What’s one mistake you made during your transformation?
The biggest mistake I made during my weight loss journey was allowing myself cheat days. I know that cheat days are all the hype right now, but for me, they just don’t work.
(Note from Dan: Here are my thoughts on Cheat Days)
I used to drink a lot and smoke. I was the type of guy who could not stop after a beer or two. I allowed myself two cheat days and both of them ended up in about a month of eating all sorts of junk and drinking excessively.
When I cheated I would sometimes lose more than two months’ worth of progress!
I finally decided to put a stop to it for good and I’ve never looked back. Best decision of my life.
What aspect of your journey has challenged you the most?
I think the biggest thing for me was to accept the fact that I was obese and that I was ashamed of it.
That’s why I started exercising at night in the beginning and took less popular hiking trails. I realized I had to keep going and remember that hiding is not the solution and the only way to change this is to give it my all.
The challenge was to get out there day after day, ignore the looks, laughs, and just keep going.
What are your future plans with health and fitness?
My main objective for the near future is to lose another 22 pounds by the time summer comes.
I am 202 pounds right now and I want to reach 180. After that, I want to start a muscle gain program and maybe join a gym.
I enjoy exercising now and do it for fun instead of the necessity it was in the beginning. Because of that, I now have no fears of ever returning to my previous weight.
What advice would you give to others aspiring to change their body?
The most important piece of advice I can offer those aspiring to lose weight is to find the motivation for the fight ahead.
There is nothing more important. If you are not determined you will not succeed and it’s as simple as that.
Think of those you love the most. If you are a parent think of what model you are setting for your child or think about what being fit and healthy will allow you to do with them. Find whatever gives you goose bumps and run with it.
If you are fully determined to change your lifestyle, there is nothing that can stop you!
Emil blogs and shares more of his journey over at www.hikingtofit.com
Disclaimer: Your results may vary and Emil’s were largely due to his dedication and adherence to his calorie/macro protocols.