At the Height of the Pandemic, He Started Running and Cut Out Fast Food—and Lost 70 Pounds

Name: Ryan Padilla Lee

a man standing next to a woman:

© Regards Ryan Padilla Lee
“Now that I’ve got my health and weight under control, running and exercising are more fun than ever.”

Age: 37

Location: Sacramento, California

Employment: Choir director / educator

Starting weight: 205 lbs

Final weight: 135 lbs

Time course: 16 months

My weight has fluctuated between 160 and 200 pounds in my 30s, and at 5-foot-7, anything over 170 pounds weighs me. Given my busy lifestyle, between regular work and sidewalking, I barely had time to keep up with a workout routine.

Around Christmas 2019, I bought pants in size 38, a size I had never bought before. I also have a history of diabetes and stroke in my family and I wanted to do what I could to prevent this from happening to me.

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In January 2020, in preparation for taking my choirs to Hawaii, I started a strict diet and light workout to lose those first few pounds. When I dropped to about 185 pounds, I increased the intensity of my workouts. In March 2020 would Covid pandemic had shut everything down. But when we were allowed to do outdoor exercises, I went all in.

I trained twice a day, in the morning and in the afternoon. I would mix it up in between go, stair climbing, running and cycling. I ran three days in a row and then took a day off. If I was feeling good, I would skip the day off. I would use the fitness apps available to me on my phone like LG Health and Samsung Health.

I was also working on changing my diet. I have an evil sweet tooth and food with too much sugar added to my peak weight. The biggest things that helped me in my first weight loss journey were lose all sugar, fast food and other carbohydrates such as bread. In hindsight, it was to drop bread probably useless, as my favorite breakfast over the last year has been a lightly toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich with coffee. Lunch would be a kind of salad paper, and dinner would be a salad. Lots of green vegetables (and coffee) in this diet now.

I started running more around July 2020. It was hard at first and I had to build my endurance. I built up from running two miles a day to four miles to six miles. Now I usually intend to do about five or six miles a day. We have a great set bull and places to run here in Sacramento, which is a huge plus. I do not like my races being dictated by red lights and avoiding traffic.

In April 2021, I started using an app called The Conqueror Challenges. Since real breeds are not yet available to me, these virtual challenges have been a great motivator.

Currently, I run every other day. In May and June 2021 I started timing myself on 10K races and my best time so far is 43:47. I would love to make an actual 10K and half marathon finally.

These three tips helped make my weight loss effort a success:

Tip 1: Keep pushing yourself. There will be days when you do not feel like going out. These are the days when it is most important to go out and run.

Tip 2: Give yourself time. Everyone has a lot to do between work, family, friends, etc. But you need to find time to exercise. It should be a daily priority.

Tip 3: Go after every meal. This habit helped me get my weight down to 135 pounds from my 150 pound plateau.

I have lost about 70 kilos and it happened in three phases. From January 2020 to March 2020, I went from 205 pounds to 161 pounds through dietary changes. During the summer of 2020, I came down to around 150 pounds through running. I stayed there a long time and honestly thought that was where I would stay. But after adding walks after the meal to my routine (in addition to afternoon running), I dropped to 135 pounds in the summer of 2021.

It has been a remarkable journey. I weigh less now than I did in high school. I never knew this was possible. But now that I’ve got my health and weight under control, running and exercising are more fun than ever.

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