I'd been overweight my entire life.
I was the quintessential “husky” kid. It was something I just lived with, accepted, and never really gave it further thought. Between building a career in the athletic footwear industry (Ironic, I know) and raising a family, taking care of myself took a back seat. As I got into my 30’s, I really started to pack on the pounds. I enjoyed big portions of calorie dense foods without giving a second thought to what I was consuming. I’d always been an active person despite my obesity, but the things I ate canceled out any benefit. By April of 2016, at the age of 33, my weight tipped the scale at 370 pounds. Seeing that number on the scale was shocking, but it was the wake-up call I needed.
The time to make a change to my lifestyle was now.
I decided to start with small steps - first cutting back on portion sizes, limiting soda and beer, and raising my activity level. I would look for opportunities to walk as much as possible, either lunchtime at the office or around my neighborhood. Golf had always been an interest of mine, and I spent nearly every Friday that summer on the course walking from green to green rather than using a cart. From those changes alone I lost 30 pounds and was already starting to feel much better.
During all this, my wife Kiera had been making changes of her own. She’d started following a ketogenic diet earlier in the year, and by the autumn she’d lost over 70 pounds. I was deeply inspired by her progress and decided to join her. I must mention here that I do owe a great deal of my success to her, as she was the one to encourage and support me with this new way of eating. It also makes it much easier to diet when your significant other eats the same way you do. We leaned on each other and continued on our journeys.
Over the next three months, I’d lost another 40 pounds and decided I should start incorporating exercise into my weight loss plan. In early January, I started seeing signs around the office advertising registration for the 2017 BAA 5k race. My interest had been piqued and I told myself, “You know what? I’m going to do this.”
I had never run in my life, but my Saucony family had my back.
As luck would have it, my desk was next to Chris Morfesi who is a very experienced and well-versed running coach. I asked for his help in meeting my goal, and he was more than happy to oblige. Chris tailored a Couch to 5k plan for me and I followed it to a tee. I wanted to keep my training a secret until closer to race day, so I started arriving at the office extra early and would exercise in the office gym before starting my workday. I was committed.
The further I got into training, the more light bulbs went off. I found I really enjoyed running! Each day I began looking forward to running on the treadmill or doing time on the elliptical. I pushed myself harder and harder every day. There were good days and bad days, but the bottom line was that I wanted it - no excuses.
My weight continued to drop as my training intensified. By April of 2017 I was down to 270 pounds - officially 100 pounds lost! Friends, family, and co-workers really started to notice how I’d progressed. I had many people commenting and complimenting me on my weight loss. My clothing was getting much baggier and I could see the progress on the scale, but admittedly it took me a very long time to fully realize and appreciate the changes that were happening to my body. The support from my circle of friends was what kept me going.
I finished the BAA 5k in 34:12. Many tears of joy were shed that day, and the Saucony family was there with me the whole way - both running alongside me and cheering me on towards the finish line. It was truly a magical day for me and I will never forget it for the rest of my life.
At this point, I was officially hooked on running and thirsty for more. I alternated between running and cross training six days a week, dedicating at least an hour to each activity. Over the course of the summer, I picked up speed and could endure longer runs. I began participating in more races and finished faster every time.
It was time to set a new goal - to complete a half marathon by the end of the year.
After four months of training and building up distance endurance, I signed up for and ran the 2017 Cambridge Half Marathon. Once again, my Saucony family was by my side and cheered me through every step of the 13.1 miles. Seeing them along the race route, hearing them calling my name, getting high fives from them - it was the extra boost I needed to exceed my goal for that race. I’d hoped I could make it in 2h:15m, and I officially crossed the finish line in 2h:12m. My year ended on such a high note, and I am so proud of my overall health and athletic accomplishments!
So, how is my 2018 going?
As of this writing, I weigh 205 lbs, putting my total weight loss at 163 pounds in just under 2 years. I started out wearing size 46 pants and 3XL shirts and now wear size 32 pants and Medium shirts. Not only am I able to buy clothing off the rack at department stores, I can proudly wear Saucony apparel in sizes and styles to fit my new body!
My running mileage has continued to increase - I now average between 30-40 miles per week. I still alternate strength training and running days, and I’ve changed my eating habits once again. I still eat mostly ketogenic, but I now cycle in targeted higher carbohydrate days for an energy boost for my longer runs and races.
I’ve also set new running goals for 2018. The first is to PR the 2018 BAA 5k by 10 minutes, then I’d like to run a half marathon in under 2 hours, and finally, I’m planning to finish off the year by completing a full marathon for the first time. These goals may seem rather lofty, but with continued hard work, dedication, and my Saucony family cheering me on, I know I can be my best!
By: Luca Ciccone