When Chris Callen looks back at his weight loss journey over the past five years, the Ohio-based insurance agent is most struck by the numbers.
First, there’s his age: He’d heard weight loss became more difficult as one got older, and being just shy of 70, he definitely found that to be true. Fortunately, he didn’t give up when things got hard, and that led to another important number: 10. This signifies 10 wonderful years of life.
“My blood work when I started this [journey] compared to now is really striking,” he says. “I was on the verge of serious heart disease. There’s no doubt I would have been dead much earlier on the route I was going. I think this weight loss bought me probably 10 more years.”
Another significant number in Callen’s journey is nine, signifying the number of daily medications he was taking to deal with high blood pressure and other health issues. That number today? Zero.
The final set of numbers is still evolving, but headed in the right direction. His starting body fat percentage was 63%. Now, that number is 36%, with a goal of getting down to 29%.
For Callen, these numbers add up to a better quality of life, where he can be active and engaged, no longer feeling as though his weight is an obstacle. And while he’s well on the other side of poor health now, it hasn’t been a straight path to get here.
CLICK TO TWEET THIS ARTICLE > Chris lost 172 pounds with @myfitnesspal, but that number is just the start. #myfitnesspal
Growing up, Callen was always the “biggest kid,” he recalls, but playing football in high school and then serving in the Army in the Vietnam War kept his weight controlled, and he managed to stay around 240 pounds through regular exercise. Then at age 45, he blew out his back.
“That made me scared to death to do anything, and I basically stayed on the couch for nine months and ate too much,” he says. Although his back eventually healed, the sedentary behavior and overeating habits stuck, plus an increased consumption of alcohol. Once he hit 65, his weight was at its highest (412 pounds), and he felt as if he was at a crossroads.
“Either I’m going to drink too much and keep gaining weight until I die, or I’m getting back into shape so I can live,” he says. “Those truly felt like my only two options. I chose the second one.”
One of Callen’s first steps on his weight loss journey was talking with a dietitian, who helped him formulate a nutrition plan that included not just a daily calorie goal but also a detailed macronutrient target. He’d never tracked protein, fat and carbs before, so he downloaded the MyFitnessPal app and opted for the Premium version, since it had more functionality and no ads, he says.
“I’m probably MyFitnessPal’s biggest fan,” says Callen. “At the end of the day, when I see that I’m in the ‘green zone,’ which means I’ve hit my goals, it’s a great feeling every time.”
Even with regular use of MyFitnessPal, he faced a large setback when COVID-19 hit and a knee replacement surgery had to be rescheduled. After getting down to 240 pounds in two years, he stopped tracking and exercising. The weight didn’t just creep back up — it roared back, until he found himself weighing 365 pounds.
Fortunately, Callen knew tracking his nutrition with MFP had worked for weight loss in the past, so he felt confident he could put himself back on track. And he was right.
With the MFP app, he tracks his calories daily and looks at his macronutrients on a weekly basis, which allows him to see how he’s trending and what needs to be adjusted, he says. He appreciates several other features as well, such as the healthy recipes that can be found on the MFP blog and in Recipe Discovery, but he uses those mainly for inspiration since he tends to stick to a few easily logged meals that effectively hit his macros.
Today, Callen weighs in at 310 pounds with a goal of getting to 250 pounds. He’s also embracing physical activity again, and even considering becoming a personal trainer. He regularly bikes with friends, and what used to be a slow ride full of struggles is now a speedy and exhilarating one.
“I used to be embarrassed to get on the bike and, of course, that just makes it worse, because the alternative is sitting at home,” he says. “Now, I just feel better all the way around. In total, I’ve lost 172 pounds and I’m not done yet.”
Inspired by the success of real MyFitnessPal users? Now it’s time to reach your own goals! Take the next step in your journey and go Premium for exclusive tools and guidance from our experts that will help you achieve any goal.