At his heaviest, Jim Gardner weighed 312 pounds. He decided to make a major life change and shed his excess weight. He succeeded, and transformed his health in the process. Read on to learn what inspired him, the tools that have helped, and exactly how much better he feels now that he's tuned into his wellbeing.
Jim Gardner lives in Florida, fixes computers for a living, and has a cool hobby—he modifies old radios from the 1920s to the 1950s, outfitting them with new speakers and Bluetooth to play music from any time period.
He also has the incredible distinction of having lost more than 118 pounds on a weight loss and health journey that began over a year ago. He plans to lose ten more pounds to reach his goal, a number advised by his doctor.
And the weight loss has come with serious health benefits. Jim’s weight has come way down, and so has his blood pressure. Jim told us that on January 1, 2018, before his lifestyle change, his blood pressure was 159/91. A recent reading taken for this Withings profile showed 113/66. By the numbers, Jim has gone from stage 2 hypertension to 100% normal blood pressure.
As you’ll see from his before and after photos, below, he looks like a different person, but more importantly, he feels so much better. He has lost pain, gained stamina and sleep, and his blood pressure numbers show he is much better from a health perspective.
Find out what inspired him, which tools he used (Withings, yes, but also a popular food tracking app that seamlessly partners with our app), and how he manages to stay on track—in his own words.
Jim Gardner on his 118-pound health transformation
I have been fighting my weight since I was a kid. In grade school I was heavy, and then lost weight in 11th grade. I weighed 180 lbs. in my senior year. I kept the weight off until I was about 25. At that point, I started gaining weight slowly over the next 10 years. In the mid-‘90s, I tried the Atkins diet and lost 70 lbs. in 10 months. I celebrated by having a French fry—and the weight came back.
On May 28, 2018, I began my weight-loss journey. I weighed 312 lbs. It was affecting my job. At the end of the day, my legs and ankles hurt. Walking was painful. It was tough climbing up a flight of stairs. I would get up 3–5 times a night to use the bathroom. Today, I feel great. No more pain. I sleep the entire night. Stairs are no longer a challenge.
Inspired by a magical podcast
A few months before I embarked on my long weight-loss journey, I was listening to the podcast Penn’s Sunday School. That is where I learned that Penn Jillette had lost 100 lbs. in 90 days. Now, normally I’m skeptical about such claims, but the evidence was there. Penn had been a heavy man, and now he wasn’t. I read his book, Presto, and learned about Ray Cronise. He is a nutritionist, and I read his book, The Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition. After reading those books, I decided I needed to do something.
I’m 58 years old and knew if I didn’t do something about the weight, it was going to get even harder to function.
First came the right tools...
The first thing I did before starting my weight-loss journey was to purchase the Nokia [Note: now Withings—Ed.] body composition Wi-Fi scale. I have also been logging my meals on the Lose It! app.
On May 28, I started a 2-week segment of nothing but potatoes. After 14 days, I stepped on the scale and it showed I had lost 19.2 lbs. I saw that there is something to this method and decided to continue on what essentially was a vegan lifestyle. I stopped eating all animal-based products. No more diet sodas. I drank unsweetened tea and water. The books said after the first 4–5 days, you adjust to the new way of eating, and the books were right. Now that I had an understanding of how the body processed food, and a plan to guide me along the way, it was not difficult to follow. In a short time, I was finding things to eat and was never hungry. I really enjoyed meat and turkey, but I never craved them.
Holidays posed challenges, but helped in gaining wisdom
On Thanksgiving, I weighed 226.2 lbs and I decided to see what would happen if I ate a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal. Ray Cronise said once you reached your goal weight, you could have what he called rare and inappropriate days, where you eat what you want maybe once or twice a month, then go back to the plan. Thoughts of that French fry in the ‘90s stuck in my head, and I was concerned it might shoot my weight back up. I had Thanksgiving dinner, and found that turkey did not give me the enjoyment that it once did. It was OK. I went back on the vegetables and fruits the next day.
Christmas was next. On Christmas Eve, I weighed 222.1 lbs. I noticed the rate of weight loss had slowed down, but that was to be expected, since I was getting thinner. I had steak on Christmas Day. I found that I still liked steak as much as I did in the past. After that it was back to veggies. Since then, I have been doing “rare and appropriate” days, and got down to 188 lbs. In the last month, I have been gaining and losing. My doctor said for a man my age who is 6’1” tall, I should weigh 180 lbs., but He said 190 lbs. would be good. My goal now is to get to 180 lbs. I am going to focus on the vegetables again to reach that goal.
Throughout this journey, I have not exercised at all. Ray Cronise recommended not exercising until you reach your goal.
The key to success: a video game with health benefits
I believe the key to maintaining the loss is my obsession to see how far I can take this. It’s almost like a video game. I keep trying to beat my previous score. I also did not like the way I was and do not want to go back. My blood pressure was in the red before I started. Now it is in the green. My fat mass was 39.9% when I started and was as low as 18.1% a few days ago. I was on vacation last week and I gained a few pounds, but now I will focus and get back on course to reach my goal.
What helped along the way? Weighing in every day.
I find weighing myself every day helps because I can adjust what I eat. If I have too many calories one day, I can eat food with lower calories the next day to compensate. I use the Lose It! app to help me plan my meals. I know I shouldn’t eat rice and potatoes on the same day, for example.
Now inspiring others
I try and talk to people about my journey often. There are people I know who are trying keto right now, but I see them going to the snack machine and it’s hard to tell them they need to change. To the people that do listen about how I did it, I tell them that they have to not give in to temptation and cheat. If they do, it will derail all that they have done.
Thanks to Jim for his time, and for sharing his journey. If you have a story to tell, be in touch—we’d love to help you tell it.