How I lost 40 pounds in 5 months


I just lost 40 pounds in the past 5 months.  It started the day I bought our family tickets to Hawaii.  I thought I would start swimming to get my body in shape for body boarding.  The problem was I couldn’t get my board shorts on.  Unbelievable. That was rock bottom.  I knew I had been gaining weight as my clothes were getting tighter, I would get winded at the top of stairs and our mirror said I had two chins.  At that moment, I resolved to destroy all the fat on my body.

A quick assessment of my life reminded me that I was barely getting any exercise, eating like crap and drinking too many White Chocolate mochas.  So I came up with a simple plan.

Offense: Destroy all your fat

I was going to run for 30 minutes every other day until the end of time, no exceptions.  I would gradually work on running faster and faster, so that I was running as many miles as I could cram into my 30 minutes.  I would stretch for five minutes before hand, run/jog for 30 minutes, cool down walk for 5 minutes and finish by stretching for five more minutes.  After this I would do 75 push-ups, some arm curls and I was done.  Counting drive time there and back, the entire routine would take 1 hour of my day.  I didn’t want to blow half my day, and I had read an article talking about how short, intense workouts would keep burning calories the entire day.  Sounded good to me.  Oh yeah, and I would do all this before I ate anything in the morning.  Mens Health had told me years ago that the best way to burn fat was to exercise before you eat in the morning so  your body is burning fat and not just the food you had just eaten.  I’m pretty sure this really helped.

If you take one thing away from what I just said, you must be consistent.  Settle it in your head that you are going to exercise for one hour, every other day, for the rest of your life.  No excuses. Don’t get overzealous and start running 3 hours a day, as you will end up quiting just as quickly as you started.  Pace yourself.  Allow your body time to heal on your off days.

The first day, when you get on the treadmill to run (I think everyone should run, as it burns a lot of calories and will get you in shape the quickest) set the timer for 30 minutes and jog at a pace you can keep up for 29 minutes.  The last minute, run as hard as you can until your on the edge of puking.  Notice the distance you ran.  Next time, try to beat that distance by a little bit, still running for only 30 minutes.  When I started I could barely make it 30 minutes at a relatively slow pace.  I’m now running 4 1/4 miles in 30 minutes without pushing myself at all.  I’ve adopted this pace to be a maintenance pace as I don’t need to lose anymore weight.  This summer I’m going to see how quickly I can run a mile.  I’ll run one as fast as I can, and then try to beat the time by 20-30 seconds by the end of the summer.  Set goals and try to reach those goals in a certain amount of time.

Defense:  Stop dumping garbage into your body

I started with offense (running) for a reason.  If you are not exercising every other day for the rest of your life, you might as well quit now.  Why?  Because even the most undisciplined person hates wasting hard work.  It’s a lot easier to keep yourself from going to McDonalds after you killed yourself running four miles earlier that day.  Who digs a hole and then kicks the dirt back in right afterward, just for fun?  Offense comes first mainly because it helps make the wretched defense a little bit easier.

My defense started with Starbucks.  I had been getting a White chocolate mocha almost every day for 3 years.  I stopped cold turkey and had lost 10 pounds within two weeks.  Cut out the liquid calories that you are drinking.  Drink water and black coffee or tea.  This should be your first thing that you change as it will immediately cause you to lose a decent amount of weight, which will help encourage you at the beginning.

Next, I stopped eating out as much.  When I would go out it would be to healthier places like Chipolte (chicken burrito bowl) and iced tea w/lemon.  I also frequent a Thai food cart near our house where I get the same Pad Thai with chicken every time.  I stopped eating late at night, cut out a lot of deserts and started eating smaller portions.

For breakfast I started eating plain oatmeal with skim milk and a banana sliced into it.  Lunch and dinner would also be healthy, but always change.  I started eating healthier snacks.  Wherever I went I have a case of water with me so as not to be tempted to drink other things throughout the day.

That’s it.  Exercise consistently, stop drinking calories, eat healthier and eat smaller portions.  I still eat out.  I still have mocha’s (though only at local coffee shops) once or twice a week.  I have deserts and eat unhealthy things every now and then.  But my lifestyle and routines can now afford to do these types of things.

I feel absolutely incredible now.  I’m down to 172 from 212.  All because my board shorts wouldn’t fit.  Watch for your crisis moment.  When it comes, or has already come, use it to light a fire in you that changes your health for the rest of your life.  Offense and defense.  Let me know if you have any questions or you need some encouragement.

This post was written by Ryan Finlay. Follow him on Twitter here.  


  1. Bravo! I am not overweight but been would like to lose 10 lbs. I’ve been starting on and off my workout routine and have problem exercising on a regular basis. I’m already doing most of the stuff you said about eating smaller portions, eating healthier, cut out the starbucks. I would suggest you add juicing to your diet. I love juicing. I like how discipline you are with your exercise routine.

    Also been enjoying reading all your posts about making a living on Craiglist. I love that you are an entrepreneur.

    Keep up the postings.

  2. Good job! I had a sudden hit when I went to the doctor and actually seen I was pushing 200 pounds. That was back in February. I stopped the liquid calories as well and lost 15 pounds the first month. I changed my eating habits and have stuck with it. Now I am 152 pounds and still dropping. I never knew how much just changing my food, drink, and activity would do. Like most, I looked for the super drug in the past. It is nice to see someone who has made a life change as well.

  3. Your story is really inspiering to me. Im trying to lose 30 pounds but its been really hard for me. I only drink water and i work out everyday, but i need to stop the bad eating habbits, mostly the sweets. Is there anything that can help to stop eating sweets and all the bad foods? what is the best way to stop the bad eating habbits without getting tempted alot of the time? i really need your help, ive never been happy in the way i looked and i want to be able to feel confident and be able to wear a two piece for once in my life. Plz if you have any suggestions plz…
    Thank you so much! it would be a great help for me.

    • Thanks for the note. My biggest advice would be to try and cut out the sweets completely for a bit. Working out and then eating sweets etc is like digging a hole in your back yard and then filling it back in with dirt later in the day. It kills the motivation. For drinks, try drinking ice tea or hot tea, black coffee etc. For food, buy more fruits and turn the fruits into your desert etc. Fruit is so good, and you will learn/grow to love it. Just keep working hard and don’t get discouraged. You have to battle, but the reward is incredible! Best of luck!

  4. Wow!!
    Your story is so motivational. I’m so glad I found it. I’m starting my healthier lifestyle tomorrow with a 30 minute jog at 5:30am. Hopefully I don’t pass out before the 30 minutes are up. 🙂

    I like how you made the 30 minute run a routine and every other day instead of every day. It makes it sound more reasonable and encouraging.I’ve been trying to start a routine but it usually only lasts a day or two. I’m telling myself now though that I’m going to stick with it and not just until I shed the 40+ pounds on my body, but FOREVER!!

    I realized from your post that losing weight shouldn’t just be to look better–although that’s a huge part–but also to feel better and live longer. Being healthy is a way of taking care of ourselves. When we allow our selves extra food or excessive (and unneeded)treats, we are neglecting our bodies.

    THANK YOU! I know now that I shouldn’t look at working out as a burden, but a life saver. I’m glad you experienced that life-changing moment, as your family probably is too.

    Thanks to you, I will not lose hope. I will keep working hard until I am where I need and should be. I’m ready to start feeling good in my own body. I’m ready for a fresh start. Thanks for posting!! 🙂

  5. Hi there, I need to loose 40 or more pounds by this Jan, I am following my fitness pal to the calorie,tons of water,doing water aerobics twice a week and daily fast paced walks with ankle and hand weight……is it possible??

  6. I gain and lose 10 pounds every year, always ending up at ~175 (hit 190, realize what happened around january, drop to 170 by august, and let ‘er slide into december)

    Overall we are healthy and easisly the biggest things for us (wife and I) avoid ALL fast food. Drink only water, black coffee and tea, to the tune of 1 gallon of water/day. Limit portions, but eat good food.

    Find your “splurge” in my case it’s a beer (more nights than not), only 1. My wife will have dessert. Everything in moderation; including moderation!


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