This is how I lost weight

Submitted by Chris Oswalt, Texas Outdoor Family Program

Since birth I've been overweight. While my personality and outlook on life have stayed constant, my weight has fluctuated wildly. When I hit 330 pounds in college, I decided to do something I’d never done before and become a “hiker.”

What originally was planned as a trip to Big Bend turned in to a 3 month, 10,000 mile trip to 22 national parks. I had found my motivation. I changed my major in college and focused on a career in the outdoors.

In one of my classes, we went camping with gear provided by Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Texas Outdoor Family program. I liked that program so much that I became a volunteer.

Around the same time, I was inspired by an instructor at a spin class I was taking. Lucy had also been overweight. She led me to believe that I, too, could change.

After graduation my weight crept back up. My frustration came to a head on a cold day in February when I weighed in at 280 pounds. That night, I remember everything changing. I told myself that no matter what, I’d wake up and I’d start making a change. It was 40 degrees the next morning when I woke up at 7:30, grabbed my beagle and went for a two mile hike. Every single day for the next two months I hiked, walked, or jogged 3-6 miles.

In April I got hired on as an instructor with the Texas Outdoor Family Program. This gave me the chance to maintain my weight the only way that works for me--being  outdoors.

Treadmills, gyms, elliptical, music--none of that ever worked. Being in a natural element and jogging, hiking, running, and exploring is what I love. That is how I lost weight. 

With Texas Outdoor Family I lead hikes, kayak, geocache and stay active. In 2012 I lost 50 pounds and am now 100 pounds lighter than I was at my heaviest. I’m able to keep up the momentum thanks to being outdoors.

It’s been a long road but the journey has been nothing short of amazing. I’m still the same person I've always been on the inside but faster, stronger, more capable, happier, healthier and in possession of the satisfaction of doing something that I never thought I could do.

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