Darick had been a "big guy" all his life but decided to change that when he noticed his weight creeping into the 260lbs+ range. He wanted to take control of his health and weight but had no idea where to start — he hated gyms, and his doctor had advised him not to run. That's fine, he hated running anyway! But he had to begin in his weight loss journey somehow. He noticed that his friend Natanya had recently lost a significant amount of weight and decided to ask her for some direction. She told Darick that she had just walked and watched what she ate. He was incredulous at first — how could just walking have that much of an effect on weight? He decided to start incorporating daily walks anyway to see if it would help – but how far? How many? Darick needed a goal.
Darick overheard a coworker talking about Run The Year 2019 and asked about it. Once he learned about the challenge, he decided to tackle it and joined their team. Now that he had a clear walking goal ahead of him, he synced his FitBit and "went on [his] merry way!" Now Darick is walking the year, and his steps are taking him not only through 2,019 miles, but also down a path that leads to better health and a happier life.
Calculating correctly, Darick reasoned that he had to fit in 5.5 miles a day in order to reach 2,019 miles in 365 days. He had started his daily walks in December and began using the RTY tracker in mid-January. If he could find an easy way to get his miles in that didn’t affect his schedule too much, he would be much more likely to give this challenge his all. Darick found that he was able to sneak walks into his daily routine and rack up miles in gaps throughout the day. He started walking to the grocery store, to his work, and around his neighborhood. Though the walk to work could take about two hours every morning, it quickly became one of his favorite paths. During the cold Chicago winter, Darick simply bundled up and steeled himself against the elements. He says he found the he felt more energized and did not feel like walking was eating up too much of his time. Walking has also become an almost meditative practice for Darick. It is a time where he can gather his thoughts and think through his day. Walking gives him time to himself and a moment of peace, though it doesn’t have to be done in silent contemplation. He has started listening to podcasts and audiobooks during his walks and has found a deep interest in the crime genre! "I can’t go on these monster walks in silence," he says.
Darick feels that his morning commute allows him to "get a jump" on his day and accomplish something before even starting work! He puts in the recommended daily 10,000 steps before sitting down at his desk, and it's made a huge difference. He has been able to discover different paths through his neighborhood, his favorite of which is a path near his work. He has walked it from winter into summer and he loves watching the seasons change through it. Darick finds that it puts him back in touch with nature, and he has developed a fondness for the growing life he finds there every day. He checks on his ducks, the sprouting flowers, budding trees, and all the little elements of a natural environment that one does not usually associate with urban living. He says he never would have discovered gems like this around his home and office without walking as much as he does now.
But Darick realized that he had signed up for more than one challenge: not only did he have to walk 2,019 miles in a year, but he also needed to learn how to eat well. These two factors would make this possible for him to become healthier and more fit with a very sedentary job. He says that a revelation about his relationship to food came to him when he watched an episode of David Letterman's My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with Kanye West. West coined a new term that struck a chord with Darick and gave him a new perspective on his health. When asked about his eating habits, West said, "I’m not calling it a diet, I’m calling it a liveit." The sentiment behind this statement, Darick explained, was that any attempt at weight loss had to be sustainable or else it was bound to fail. If you deny yourself the pleasures of the palate in order to be healthy, it's going to be much more difficult to maintain that for the rest of your life. Wanting to tackle his new "liveit" accurately, and also wanting to satisfy his curiosity about the caloric and nutritional content of his food, Darick bought a food scale and began weighing everything he ate at home. He quickly discovered which foods he could enjoy that fulfilled his macronutrient needs while staying within his caloric allowance. With his scale, and new approach to health, Darick began controlling his portion sizes, but not cutting out the foods he loves. He can still have a hotdog and a beer on a night-out or enjoy a nice dinner with his wife - just not with the frequency and portions he was used to. In fact, according to Darick, the limitation on a certain food made him enjoy it that much more when he did have it. "Now when I have a burger," he said, "I’m not going to settle for just a burger. I’m going to find the best burger in Chicago and enjoy it as much as I can."
Between walking regularly and paying attention to what he eats, Darick has managed to shed 25% of his starting weight— that's almost 70lbs! "Burn more than you eat" is the core of every endeavor to shed extra mass, but it is by no means easy to do, and he discovered first-hand how true it really is. For instance, Darick did not realize how many calories he was consuming just in snacks, but once he started tracking food, he discovered that his treats between meals totaled almost 2,000 calories alone. By being more mindful of his food choices, Darick has been able to lose those 70lbs in under 6 months. Though some of his peers have expressed concern that his weight loss may be too rapid, he says he feels that his "liveit" is sustainable for him. "Just existing at a deficit feels very healthy," Darick says, "Is it fast? Sure! But it feels good." His only regret about his new lifestyle is that he did not start it sooner, now that he knows how straightforward it is.
Carrying around so much extra weight is not only physically stressful but can also take a toll on mental health as well. So, it stands to reason that as Darick lost the weight, he gained a new perspective of the world. He can now hold his loved ones closer when he hugs them. He can enjoy food more. He had reconnected with nature through his walks. He can wear shirts that haven’t fit him since high school. He can now fit onto his wife's 125 Primavera scooter! "I know I look better, but that's nothing compared to how much better I feel," he declares happily.
Darick gives hackneyed excuses and lack of motivation credit for holding him back from achieving a healthier existence. No longer! He realized that he could control his body and take responsibility for his own health. And that is exactly what he has done, with amazing results! He cites a line from the popular musical "Hamilton" as his mantra for his undertaking: "He says ‘I am the one thing in life I can control, and he's right! Hamilton ‘wrote his way out’ of poverty, and I can ‘walk my way out,’ I can control this," says Darick. And that is exactly what he's done! The knowledge that he is the only thing he can control and that he can "walk his way out" is what dragged him out of bed on cold, dark winter mornings, and kept him going when he wanted to give up.
Darick was coming up on 1,500 miles at the time of the interview, and completed the challenge on October 3rd! Having a goal that seemed unattainable is what spurred him on, and now he is reaping the benefits of consistency. Well done, Darick! We are incredibly proud of you, and beyond amazed at your progress. You have shown us what good a challenge like Run The Year can do, and we cannot wait to see how far you’ll go on this journey. Keep Walking The Edge!