Steve Raleigh is living proof that losing 100 pounds is possible. The 52-year-old originally from Tennessee went from morbidly obese to an athletic, healthy, and gorgeous 6-foot-tall man. How did he do it? By following a simple but effective plan that started with him reading an autobiography of human pioneer Henry Thoreau. After reading Thoreau’s account of his daily walks, Raleigh decided to try the method and wrote down a list of goals that went beyond simply losing weight.
“I decided that this was the key; this was going to be the change that I was looking for,” says Raleigh. “I was going to master the art of walking.”
Raleigh started his journey to better health in January 2010 by visiting a local gym and working out for a few months. It wasn’t until he started reading Thoreau’s writings that he realized just how effective walking could be in terms of losing weight. Thoreau’s non-fiction masterpiece Walden, or Life in the Woods details the author’s adventures living in a cabin in the wilderness for two years. In one of the book’s opening chapters, Thoreau writes:
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what things were necessary and what were superfluous. I did not wish to waste time in idle pleasures or in dreaming. I preferred to live in the present, which is probably why I have never been a great success as a painter.”
Based on those words, Raleigh decided that his first step on the road to better health would be to get rid of the unnecessary pleasures in his life. So he started by not drinking alcohol and quitting smoking, two things he felt were taking up too much of his time. Then he walked every day for an hour or two, going on nature hikes with his dog, Luke. At first, Raleigh didn’t see much difference between his workouts at the gym and his walks with Luke, but he gradually started to notice a difference in how he felt and how his clothes fit.
“After about six months of intensive reading and journaling, I started to realize that there was a direct correlation between my weight and my overall feeling of well-being,” says Raleigh. “I was feeling better and better every day.”
As his health improved, so did his looks. He gained about 10 pounds of muscle, which gave him a new spring in his step. The change was so dramatic that people often remarked how great he looked, even though he still considered himself ‘fat.’
After a year of diligently following Thoreau’s methods of living simply and healthily, Raleigh decided that he needed a change of scenery. So he moved to the Big Apple to be with his daughter, who was then living there. Since his arrival, Raleigh has been working at a dog walking/sitting company and still walks about two to three hours a day, most days. While living in New York, Raleigh started making some important connections and met other members of the American Institute of Stress (A.I.S.) who were also interested in applying Thoreau’s methods to their own lives. When Raleigh graduated from A.I.S.’s 60-Day Physician Assisted Rehabilitation (P.A.R.) program, he was confident that he had what it took to lose weight and get healthy again.
The Power of Walking
Raleigh firmly believes that, as Thoreau said, ‘walking is the cheapest and most effective mode of transportation.’ He also thinks that it is one of the most enjoyable activities a person can do. Walking offers many health benefits and is associated with weight loss, increased energy, and a feeling of well-being. It’s no wonder that so many people in New York City are choosing to walk instead of using vehicles every day. As a result, the number of obese people in the city has dropped by 9 percent since 2008. According to data from the New York City Health Department, in 2010 there were 752,000 people in New York City who were considered obese. That’s down from 884,000 in 2008. Similarly, the city’s diabetes prevalence rate has decreased by 13 percent between 2008 and 2010.
Walking is a low-cost way to move around. It doesn’t depend on the weather, so you can do it anytime. And you don’t need an expensive gym membership to do it. All you need are good shoes and some willpower. That’s what makes walking such a powerful tool for weight loss. It’s also one of the reasons why Raleigh decided to make it his main source of activity. He wants to teach others how to harness the health benefits walking has to offer, so that they, too, can lose weight and live a better life!
The Importance of Planning
It’s important to Raleigh that you do some serious planning before you start losing weight. You need to figure out how much you’re going to weigh when you’re done and how much you’re willing to lose. A lot of people, particularly those who have tried to lose weight in the past, make the mistake of starting too soon and end up gaining back all the weight they lost. It’s better to put your plan into action and gradually reduce your food intake and work out habits, so you don’t end up with unhealthy results.
Raleigh started preparing for his health journey a year in advance. He created an Excel spreadsheet that he filled out each month. The spreadsheet contained all the necessary information he needed to track his daily calories and exercise. He also made a list of all the food products he needed to avoid and why. When he was going through A.I.S.’s P.A.R. program, they taught him how to create a meal plan and exercise schedule and fill out a calorie journal, which he followed diligently for the first few weeks of his weight loss journey. He still follows this plan today and has lost about 10 pounds since starting in January.
“I like to think that every day is a new beginning,” says Raleigh. “And when you start with a clean slate you can always go back and change whatever you want, if you don’t like the results. The important thing is to keep moving in the right direction.”
The Importance of Being Confident
It’s important to feel confident whatever size you are. You need to have absolute trust in yourself and your ability to achieve your desired weight. If you’re not comfortable in your own skin, it’s going to be hard to lose weight and keep it off. You also need to make sure that those around you – family, friends, and co-workers – support your decision to lose weight and encourage you to follow through with it. They can help you keep your newfound confidence by being there for you and sharing in your excitement about your new look.
Raleigh was able to lose weight because he had the support of family and friends. He still walks with Luke every day and frequently talks to him about his experience. Raleigh’s mother died of cancer when he was 16 years old, so he credits his dogs for helping him get through that difficult time. He also talks to his father about his experience on a regular basis and they both believe that his health problems – which include congestive heart failure, diverticulitis, and chronic kidney disease – are all related to his obesity. As a result, the family has become an integral part of his weight loss journey. They frequently come to practices and games, and they make it a point to encourage Raleigh to walk. They want to be sure that he has the physical and mental health he needs to be able to pursue his goals.
If you want to lose weight and are committed to doing so, you need to find a support system that will help you along the way. That way, no matter what, you can always fall back on each other when you need support. You might also want to consider talking to a professional who can help put your plan into action and keep you motivated. They can also provide you with tips on how to deal with depression and anxiety – two things that often go hand-in-hand with being overweight. If you’re not comfortable talking to your family about your weight loss goals, it’s OK to bring it up with a professional. They can also prescribe you the right medication if necessary.