''I Haven't Missed a Walk in Over a Year!''

After several false starts to lose weight over the years, Rick (LOGHOUSE) tipped the scale at 289 pounds. A weight loss challenge (and exercise buddy) at work motivated him to walk every single day for more than a year. He's now 40 pounds lighter and three pants sizes smaller thanks to daily walks. Find out how walking helped Rick lose weight, gain energy and overcome chronic back pain.

Rick Before Rick After

How did walking help you reach your goals?
Just walking through the grocery store or from my car to my desk at work hurt my back. I had to do something about my weight and discomfort, so headed up a "weight loss challenge" at work, which runs quarterly and has two-person teams. I teamed up with a guy who immediately got me walking every day at lunch (something we've done every day since for more than a year). I've since added treadmill and outdoor walking at home and have done some occasional light jogging and even tried out some interval training.

What other exercises do you do besides walking?
I recently restarted my once "moderately" successful weight training program. I'm going in a different direction this time, using the TNT program from Men's Health. I've opted for this as an easy way to change things up and keep things interesting. I also started doing the 100 Pushups Challenge a while back, which helped me progress from only 13 pushups to 44 during my last exhaustion test. My last workout had 160 pushups in 5 sets (not bad, eh?).

How do you keep your walks fun and interesting?
I change my routes frequently. Our lunch time walks at work keep evolving and roam all over the industrial park I work in. Using MapMyRun.com, we've mapped out about 10 routes that range from 1.6 to 2 miles in length. Two-mile walks are a challenge in our half-hour lunch time, but we can do it if we really hustle. During bad weather or in the winter, I walk inside our factory (seven laps is just over 2 miles). At home, I walk all over. Since I live in a rural area, all the walk routes I take here are more than three miles. My MP3 player helps LOADS, too. It's loaded with live recordings of my favorite acoustic music to keep me motivated while I walk.

What tips would you give someone just starting a walking program?
Don't give up! And walk with someone. My "weight loss challenge" partner at work was a driving force who got me moving and kept me motivated until I got over the back pain (that took several weeks). Now, even if everyone I usually walk with is on vacation or too busy, I never miss a lunch walk. And, I still get in three or four walks each week when I'm at home, too.

Besides weight loss, what other improvements have you noticed?
More energy; smaller clothes (I'm down three pants sizes); I can tie my shoes without holding my breath; and no more back pain! (I know walking won't fix everyone's back, but I believe my pain was directly tied to my huge gut and weak core muscles, which walking helped to remedy.) The other stuff (strength training) is so much better this time around because I have more energy for it.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with other walkers?
Just start slow, but keep at it. On my first few walks at work, my weight loss buddy offered several times to go get his car to pick me up—after just 10 minutes, I'd be bent over, gasping and trying to stretch my lower back. I felt like such a wuss! But we always made it back, and he never let me quit. Also, keep your walks interesting. The same route every day is boring. When we walk in the factory at work, even changing direction is distracting enough to relieve the boredom a bit. Motivation has been a huge issue for me, but frequent changes in my route and routine have helped me in a BIG way.