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In the summer of 2011 my family decided we were going to do something different for vacation and go somewhere new. I wasn’t completely for it yet but my mom told us we would be going to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. We went hiking, visited the University of Tennessee (my favorite college team), and more importantly visited CLIMB Works. I had never gone ziplining before, but always wanted to and my mom said she found a company that ranked above the rest! I had an awesome time that helped solidify my love for the outdoors and learn a little bit along the way.

Fast forward four years later. I was about to graduate college from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. It had been a great four years, and I don’t regret one bit of it but there I was 30 pounds heavier than when I started. The weekends out with friends, sharing a couple pizzas a week with my roommates, a busy schedule with work & school work had done a number on me. I needed to make a change. I decided that I was going to take a week off to hang out with my family and friends after I graduated and then I needed to make a serious change in my lifestyle. I needed to leave that comfort zone of pizza, beer, and laziness. I joined a gym, looked up some workouts online, and set a goal to lose 30 pounds. I went to the gym every day after work and then to the track for another workout. At least once a week I would be wearing my CLIMB Works t-shirt that I had gotten four years ago. I had slowly realized that the words printed on my shirt were becoming a major part of my life. Weight loss isn’t easy. You have to work hard and challenge yourself. You have to learn about what to do to get rid of that excess weight. You have to believe in yourself and the process because it’s a long process that doesn’t just happen overnight. It took a long time to pack on those pounds and it was going to take some time to get rid of them and keep them off. You need to have a strong and solid reason to start so when you’re feeling down and don’t want to continue you will think back to why you started to keep you going.

Since going to the Smoky Mountains, I had this love for the outdoors. I used that to help me with my weight loss and started hiking more after work, on my days off, and even when visiting my friends on the other side of the state. I went mountain biking for the first time that summer as well. It was something I always wanted to do but never knew much about it or where to go. My days off were filled with hiking, mountain biking, and the gym. Weight loss suddenly became easier! How? Because I found things that I love to do and can challenge myself to push a little harder to become a little faster and to last a little longer each time. I entered CLIMB Works video contest last summer in the hopes to reach out to others so that they could realize that losing weight doesn’t have to be a miserable thing. Hiking up One Thousand Steps trail was hard and took a long 30 minutes in 90 degree heat with 100% humidity but being outside was more fun than going to the gym.  When you are happy and having fun with what you are doing then success will follow. I was bummed that I didn’t win the contest and the GoPro but I felt even better knowing that my video had at least reached one person if not more and inspired them to achieve their goals.

I continued lifting, running, hiking, and mountain biking all through the fall and winter. I believe it was around Christmas time when I finally reached my goal of 30 pounds lost. I felt great! I felt like I was standing on top of the world and that nothing could stop me. I decided to keep the weight loss going! Ten more pounds! I knocked those pounds out in a couple months! March came and I had decided to go for ten more pounds. It was going good and I was feeling great! I reached the 180’s and injury struck. I couldn’t lift, I couldn’t mountain bike, and at first running and hiking was difficult. This was just a little bump in the road, and I had to figure out how to reach my goal without those things. After a couple weeks off, I was able to start running and hiking again. I continued to push myself and did the One Thousand Steps trail again with one of my best friends, Jared. To us we were just briskly walking up the trail but to others we were probably blurs because we made it up in 13 minutes exactly! That’s 17 minutes faster than the last time I did it. I worked and put in the time and 355 days after I started I was there. I didn’t just do it; I mastered weight loss and completely crushed my goal. I lost 50 pounds in less than a year. I stepped out of my comfort zone, changed my whole lifestyle & eating habits, and reached something that many see as impossible or too boring to keep going.

When I tell people I lost 50 pounds I get a congratulations that is usually followed up with “how did you do it? Why did you want to lose 50 pounds?” In a shortened version of what’s above I tell them you don’t have to always go to the gym or go for a run. Go for a hike, walk, or bike ride; just get outside and do something! As long as you are happy and having fun with what you do then success will follow. I have had many people ask me what my reason for keep going is: I wanted a healthier and better me. I have a long bucket list that I want cross everything off of, and if I continued with my college ways there would have been no way I would have been able to cross everything off my list. I did it for my family and friends so that I can spend many years with them as well. That is why I chose to always C.L.I.M.B. and continue to do so to this day.