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Losing Weight Through Exercise and a Healthier Lifestyle – Stories of Personal Transformation on dailymile

8/17/05 - not losing weightImage by kastner via Flickr

Last October I wrote a post on this blog about my personal story of weight loss achieved through running. In that post I mentioned a controversial article that was published in Time Magazine in early August of 2009 that questioned the efficacy of exercising to lose weight (“Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin,” by John Cloud). The basic premise of the article can be summed up by the final paragraph, quoted below:

In short, it’s what you eat, not how hard you try to work it off, that matters more in losing weight. You should exercise to improve your health, but be warned: fiery spurts of vigorous exercise could lead to weight gain. I love how exercise makes me feel, but tomorrow I might skip the VersaClimber — and skip the blueberry bar that is my usual postexercise reward.

Reading this article made me angry, and not just because it was contrary to my own experience. I have seen many people who have made dramatic changes to their bodies and health by starting an exercise program, and any article that makes even the slightest suggestion that people skip exercise is ridiculous, and even borderline dangerous. My goal in this post is to provide examples of those who have used exercise as a tool to get healthy, and if you are just beginning this journey yourself, inspiration that if they can do it, you can too.

Over the past year I’ve become a huge fan of the website dailymile – it has served as a phenomenal source of support, motivation, and most of all friendship. About a week ago the theme for the day was Before/After photos – people were posting “Before” pictures of themselves before they started exercising, and “After” pictures to show how exercise has changed their health for the better. I have to say, the pictures and stories that were posted were amazing, and they reaffirmed to me more than ever the power of exercise to not only allow people to lose weight, but to in many cases contribute to a bodily transformation that is nothing short of astonishing. The pictures below are a sample of those posted on dailymile that day, and I hope that looking at them will confirm to you the positive benefits of exercise and a healthier lifestyle. You can view the dailymile profile of any of these people by clicking on the link below their photo – I’m quite sure any of them would happily accept a friend request, and all are great role models for the power of exercise to change one’s life.




So there you have it – everyday people like you and I who have done some absolutely amazing things for themselves by getting off the couch adopting an active lifestyle. So when articles like the one in Time Magazine say that exercise won’t make you thin, I have but one response – look at these pictures, they speak for themselves.

I’ll finish with this – all of these people are members of dailymile, which is an amazingly supportive community of like-minded people (kind of like Facebook for active people). If you’d like to give dailymile a try, click on the banner below and sign up – it’s free!

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About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a biology teacher, track/soccer coach, and dad (x3) with a passion for running, soccer, and science. If you'd like to learn a little bit more about who I am and what I do, click here, or visit


  1. A thousand times yes!

  2. Meredith @ Sweat Every Day says:

    just found your blog thru dailymile’s tweet, love this post!!! it really fits in with what I’ve done to change my life too!! thanks for writing this

  3. Anne Munkwitz says:

    It is so fantastic to see so much how all these people took hold of their lives and made positive changes through exercise. And since they are on dailymile I know they are still active, have a positive attitude, and are encouraging others. You cannot tell me that an exercise plan will not help you lose weight. IT WILL. But it can also change your life.

  4. Inspirational my friend!

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks all – this was a fun post to write, but the hard work was done by all
      of those pictured here!

  5. These photos are so frickin’ awesome. Folks’ smiles alone are a tremendous testament to how powerful of a life transformation running is. Great motivation to keep on going, too! Thanks for sharing.

  6. ideal_body_weight_chart says:

    You are so right about the changes that a good exercise routine can bring about, it can also foster a desire toward healthier eating habits and a better diet. Great B/A pics.

  7. A somewhat belated reaction to your post (above which I have an “all you can eat for €.5,–” banner).

    If the Time article were correct, we would see professional athletes cutting short their careers because of growing obese.

    The article may contain some grain of truth in that interspersing an otherwise inactive lifestyle with a few bouts of vigorous exercise, is probably not the way to loose weight.

    The way I see it, the key word is ‘routine’. Making some exercise part of your daily routine may do more than true sport. I personally do not think this needs to be vigorous exercise. If weight control and cardiovascular health is your goal (as opposed to getting the body of a Greek god) probably pretty modest exercise, like walking or cycling will do just fine.

    I have always included a 15 minute or so walk to and from work in my daily routine, as well as a 30 minute stroll during my lunch break. Despite approaching middle age, I have never really gained any weight and have never felt particularly out of shape since. My feeling is that simply walking every day contributed a lot to this. Of course, it is a statistic on one and it could just as well be genetics, diet or even the placebo-effect of being pretty content with my magic routine.

    I started exercising intensely only a few years ago to improve my posture. Running was my warm up and, well, I ended up churning out 10 to 18K ‘warm-ups’’ and skipping all the rest. Haven’t really changed weight, but do look more like an athlete.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks for the comment – sorry about that banner! Sometimes google
      throws up things that are out of place. Your point is a good one –
      weight loss/maintenance is more than a 30 minute run each day, it has
      to be a lifestyle of activity. The main problem wi the article is that
      it almost portrayed exercise as worthless.


      On Wednesday, December 22, 2010, Disqus

      • You’re absolutely right. It mispresents obesity as a monocausal thing that is completely explained -and controllable- by calorie intake. A comment on Steve Magness’ blog, remarking how skinny people look on photographs of, say, 1930, made me think about it.

        The biggest life style change since then is probably not that we have fast food restaurants on every street corner, but the sheer amount of physical effort we have cut out of our daily lives with washing machines, dish washers, microwaves, computers, cars and the like.

        The work of our great grandfathers probably involved physical labour and if not, significant amounts of walking or cycling to and from work, bus or train and climbing stairs. And think of the physical labour our great grandmothers had to do for daily stuff like the family laundry: fetching a kettle of water, boiling it, stirring the clothes in hot water, rubbing them vigorously against a washing board, putting them through a wrangler, taking them out and hanging tem on a line. And after that: fetching groceries, peeling potatoes, fetching water for cooking etc.

        Imagine all the machines you’d have to work in the gym to get the same workout.

        • Pete Larson says:

          Excellent points – I agree completely. I think you always have to consider
          both diet and exercise when it comes to weight loss or maintenance – they go
          hand in hand.


  8. arvinlexor123 says:

    I am short on time now, So need to leave your post without reading it till end. But looks rocking. Your writing style is really cool.

  9. Weight Loss Hypnosis says:

    Based on the pictures Im impressed. Really got a result and very good one.

  10. Mortgages says:

    nice one

  11. Krystina Allannah says:

    I am out 15 kg overweight..after watching these pictures loosing weight looks ever more possible…

  12. Not all people have been successful in their quest of having a healthy and fit body so reading about the tales of those who succeed gives you that glimmer of hope that it can be done.

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