Fitbit Success Stories is a recurring feature on the Fitbit Blog. You’ll read inspirational and personal stories about Fitbit users who have achieved amazing things as a result of their Fitbit tracker, diet, exercise, and sheer ambition.
Today’s post is from Fitbit user Mark Sands.
I never really considered myself an athletic person. As a child, I regularly overindulged in sugary soft drinks and fatty foods. Portion control was nonexistent in my house. I tried to get into several different types of sports, but my weight held me back from truly enjoying them. I was teased by my peers. To make things worse, I saw little value in trying to do anything about it. I used food to comfort my overwhelming anxiety. As a freshman in high school, my weight was at its highest: 220 lbs. with a 42” waistline. I was 16 and officially obese.
Then a series of events occurred that changed my life forever. One of them was the loss of my father due to brain cancer. He wasn’t terribly out of shape, and he never did anything to get healthier. This motivated me to start improving my health.
Fast-forward to college graduation: I’d lost 40 pounds and 8” off my waist. I was stronger, faster and had more endurance than ever. I began to pursue a career in law enforcement and became even more focused on becoming fitter and healthier. I needed to be at the top of my game to combat the high stress of the profession, as well as the life threatening situations I might face on a daily basis.
I was hired by a local sheriff’s department, and during the police academy I developed a love of long distance running. A year later, I ran my first official 5K road race. Three years later I ran my first marathon. Throughout the last 12 years I’ve run over 60 different road races. But, my true love has always been the marathon.
Fast-forward to college graduation: I’d lost 40 pounds and 8” off my waist. I was stronger, faster and had more endurance than ever.
My first marathon took me almost five hours to finish. I spent the next 10 years running races, training like crazy and devoting myself to finishing a marathon in less than four hours. I did everything I could to reach that goal. Holding me back was my diet, portion control and weight. When you run long distances, you discover that you can eat a lot of garbage, be fairly sedentary when not training and simply get away with.
As I approached 40 years old, I decided that I needed a change. But honestly, I didn’t know what it was. Then a friend of mine purchased a Fitbit. After hearing about everything it could do, I thought that maybe it might help me become the distance runner I’d always wanted to be. I was intrigued.
On April 15, 2012 I purchased a Fitbit Ultra. That tiny little tracker was the spark that ignited an enormous change in my life. At the core of my success is the concept that when a person tracks and records something related to their fitness or health, they can change it for the better. Using the Fitbit online dashboard, Aria WI-FI Scale and trackers made it simple for me.
Before using the Aria Scale, I rarely tracked my weight or body fat. Now I take readings every day and compare them over any time. It sends all of my data wirelessly to my computer. I don’t have to lift a finger. It’s become a great tool to discover trends in my weight, body fat and show positive progress.
In 2013, I challenged myself to run at least a mile a day for an entire year. I’m still going strong over 400 days later.
Similarly, before using Fitbit trackers, I wasn’t very active when I wasn’t training. Because I was already exercising, I figured being active outside of training didn’t matter. I was wrong; it does.
Now I walk more so does my family. Instead of sitting in the living room watching mindless TV, we go for walks on local trails. Plus, my tracker is a great tool for my training. Gone are the days of handwritten exercise logs and calculators. I have all of the training data I could ever need at my fingertips. And I’ve been tracking my sleep and improving it.
The motivation and support I’ve received from the online Fitbit community is incredible. I’ve met other distance runners, traded training ideas and created wonderful friendships. The badges I’ve earned encourage me on a daily basis. It’s made fitness fun.
Things changed quite a bit after getting my Fitbit. I lost 20 lbs. and am slimmer than ever. My waistline decreased by two more inches. In 2012, I finally completed a sub-four-hour marathon. In 2013, I challenged myself to run at least a mile a day for an entire year. I’m still going strong over 400 days later. This year, I’m going to attempt to run my very first ultra-marathon and Fitbit will be there every step of the way.
A Fitbit won’t do the work for you. But it gives you the tools and motivation that you need to make your own success story.