Name: Larry Knight
Occupation: Elementary School Principal
Hometown: Pensacola, Florida
Start Weight: 240 pounds
End Weight: 185 pounds
Time Running: Two and a half years
In June 2017, I had just been appointed as principal at a new school, and I stopped by the office to meet the staff. They were giving me a few welcome gifts, one of which was a school t-shirt. They asked me if I needed a 3xL.
That moment stuck with me. It stung. I knew I had gotten large—I wore an XL in some clothes and a 2XL in others, but I didn’t realize I looked that big. Thinking about my life, I thought about my three grandchildren. I wanted to be there to show them the world and be a major part of their lives.
That July, I knew I had to start losing weight.
I began by walking. My wife and I would go out for long walks during the week, and on weekends, we’d really push it, walking around 10 miles. Those summer miles were nice, but when school started again in September, I had less time to walk.
That’s when I decided to start running. My thought process was, if I could run for 30 minutes, that would equate to walking for an hour. Running was hard in the Florida heat, but I kept going. I could only run a short distance, like a quarter mile, before I had to walk.
I squeezed in a run any time I could—during lunch breaks, after work—and I slowly worke my way up to running a mile without stopping. I’ll never forget the day I did. It was September 25, 2017. I came home completely winded, turned on the ceiling fan, laid down on the floor, and begged my wife to bring me water.
In November, I completed a 5k, and I told myself after that race that it was stupid to run any farther. But I got curious about running farther, so I convinced myself to try an impromptu 10k. On the second half of that impromptu 10K, my body ached and my lungs burned, and when I finished, I came into the living room and fell on the floor. My son told my wife that I looked like I needed help. That 10k hurt, but it was rewarding to push myself. Again, the curiosity to go farther grew.
By January 2018, I hit 185 pounds, which is where I sit today. Running played a large part in that, but so did changing what I ate over the last three years.
I knew I had made small changes over the years. I was an overeater, so I worked on portion control to start. I also replaced sugary drinks (like orange juice for breakfast) with water. When I went out to eat, I’d treat myself to a soda. They were subtle changes that didn’t rock my world, which helped me commit to it for the long haul. I knew I wasn’t going to give up Whataburger, so I had to simply find a way to fit it into my new life.
These changes were made slowly and on my own terms. I wanted to feel better when I ran, and my diet is a reflection of that desire. I truly am amazed at the number of changes I made in response to what my body was needing.
To be honest with you, I didn’t realize how many changes I made to my eating habits in this time. Recently, one of my sons visited from out of town and requested fried pork chops, one of his favorite foods from when he was a child. I was set to fry them when, to my surprise, I didn’t have any oil in the pantry. In fact, I couldn’t recall the last time I had used any.
After my son left, I examined the pantry and refrigerator. There was almond milk instead of dairy. There were fresh fruits and veggies. I used blend of turkey and beef to make spaghetti and meatballs. The pasta was whole wheat.
All of this fuel has brought me to where I am today. I am still 185 pounds, and I even finished my first marathon back in February at the New Orleans Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon. This has been a journey of ups and downs but now, at nearly three years of doing this, it has become a part of my life. Running has changed from something I have to do to something I get to do.
And I feel so much better now that I’ve lost the weight. It truly has made such a positive impact on my life. My energy level is great. My mental clarity is better. My self-confidence has enhanced. As the leader of school where I impact the lives of children, I believe that it is important for them to see me live a moral life as an example but that I also live a healthy lifestyle as an example to them.
My advice to anyone who want to start a similar journey is to set measurable goals and find a way to hold yourself accountable. Do things that you’re not willing to change for the remainder of your life. Making temporary changes in your life to get results are often negated when you decide to resort back to your “go to” when you reach your goal. Keep moving forward no matter what and except no excuses from yourself. If you falter, shake it off and start again.
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