Barry Parkes always said 300 pounds would be his limit. As a younger man, Parkes admitted he was pretty inactive. He never worked out, and he never ate quite right. In fact, he never even walked around the block. But in his mind, as long as he was under 300 pounds, he was fine. Until, of course, that number came and went.“I stepped on the scale and it said 325,” the 53-year-old shared with MensHealth.com. “That’s when it really hit me.”
Parkes, who works as an assistant principal in Idaho Falls, wanted to change, but he didn’t know where to start. “It had to be something permanent,” he said. “It couldn’t be cutting out carbs, cutting out protein, because I knew that’s not reality. I’m not going to do that until I die.”
Like many people looking to lose weight, Parkes needed something fairly simple, and something he could do forever. And that’s when a coworker suggested he strap on a Fitbit device.
His first step after getting the device and downloading the app was creating a calorie budget for himself each day. “I’m a big budgeter,” he said. “I’ve budgeted my money kind of anally for the last 17 years of my life. So I know that if I eat more than I’m burning, it’s not gonna work.” He diligently tracked each bite, keeping himself within a reasonable range for his calories in calories out diet.
Then, Parkes took things one step at a time. Literally. Parkes began joining his wife, Shauna, on her daily walks. The pair kept going. And going. And going. They walked between three to six miles every single day. Until finally, Parkes dropped to 203 pounds, marking a 122-pound weight loss in just a year and a half.
Parkes wasn’t all about deprivation in his weight loss journey. Instead, he simply learned to eat more sensibly and move more often along the way. “Before, in my mind, a diet meant I would not eat breakfast and not eat lunch. I could not eat for two days and be fine,” he said. But eventually those hunger pangs would set in, and he’d go home and eat two pizzas without even realizing it.
“I didn’t realize that those two pizzas were about 4,000 calories,” he said. Now, he knows just how much that indulgence will cost him in his calorie count. “The Fitbit app really opened my eyes and helped me realize you gotta eat one slide piece of pizza instead.” Weight loss hasn’t been the only positive side effect for Parkes.“I don’t snore anymore. I definitely have more energy. My wife says we’re a power couple now. We went on a cruise this summer to Alaska and went hiking, I could walk around the boat. Before I could have never done that,” he explained. “My back pain is gone too. And my cholesterol dropped 100 points.”
Perhaps the best side effect of all is that he and Shauna — who’ve had a “wonderful” 30-year relationship — saw their love grow even stronger. Shauna, by the way, also lost 40 pounds thanks to her Fitbit technology.
When asked for his advice to other guys his age — or any age — looking to get healthy, Parkes had this sage advice: “The key is you got to commit to it first. You got to be at the point where enough is enough. You got to commit to doing it and then you’ve got to stick with it and be consistent.”
*Article originally appeared on MensHealth.com
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.