Name: John Breznicky
Occupation: Engineer/Business owner
Hometown: New York City
Start Weight: 325 pounds
End Weight: 175 pounds
Time Running: 18 months
I was always on the larger side growing up, but my weight escalated more quickly once I started to gain some independence. As a teenager with a driver’s license and little money, it was super easy to meet up with friends and eat poorly. I can remember a lot of loitering in fast food parking lots.
My poor eating habits continued in college, and afterwards, when I moved to New York City and was surrounded by amazing culture, food, and nightlife. I felt excited and almost obligated to indulge in all its offerings. I avoided weighing myself a lot of my life, but 325 pounds was the highest I can remember seeing on the scale in young adulthood. That needed to change.
Weight loss and getting healthy was always something that was on my mind,but I was never able to conquer it. As an engineer and problem solver, I’ve always been very goal driven academically and professionally, but I was never able to make a major change and adopt a healthy lifestyle. I had to find the formula that worked for me specifically.
That turned out to be two things. First, a diet consisting of no grains, no sugar, no alcohol—basically a lot of meat and veggies. Once I found what foods worked specifically for my body, it was easy to adapt and make changes.
Additionally, my wife Cayla and I changed our daily routine to include walking to and from work every day rather than driving. We own a fabrication shop and do everything together, so it was amazing that we were able to support each other through the process.
Walking to and from work daily (about three miles total), the diet changes, and some additional after-work or weekend walks led to me losing over 100 pounds in a year, and to my wife losing 50 pounds as well. We’ve continued our walking habit ever since, and we walk everywhere now.
There were some caveats with my journey. When losing a lot of weight as quickly as I did, I lost strength and muscle in addition to the fat. At work, I often handle and move heavy materials and lumber, so the loss of strength was noticeable. I didn’t know my way around a gym or where to turn to gain back the strength I had lost. So I went to the closest gym to my house, which happened to be a CrossFit gym.
In the past, I wasn’t able to participate in physical activities for extended periods of time or at all. So after building an aerobic base, running was a new curiosity and challenge I wanted to conquer. I fell in love with running pretty quickly.
In addition to the physical benefits, I love the mental clarity and explorative nature running offers. Now, It’s hard to imagine my life without running. After living a primarily sedentary life, I’m always excited and grateful to see where my new body can take me.
I did a 5K and a half marathon early on, but then a friend of mine in Seattle mentioned a marathon in the Cascade Mountains this past June. He was running and asked if I’d join him. The race was 14 months after I completed my first run. I loved trail running and hiking, so I just went for it.
After picking a training plan, I found myself really enjoying the race prep process and seeing measurable improvements along the way. I was very nervous going into the race, and finished in just under 3:30.
That same friend also mentioned applying for the New York City Marathon lottery last year. Originally, I was going to try for New York Road Runner’s 9+1 program, but he said, “You’ve got to try. You never know.” Sure enough, I got in via the lottery and quickly had two marathons scheduled in my first full year of running.
I’ve called New York City my home for the last nine years, and I am so thankful that I’m now in a position that I can even participate in such a special event. It’s going to be extra special to run on my home turf with the support of my family and friends watching. My goal for this race is to run 3:25 or faster as a reminder of my once-325 pound weight.
One of my biggest takeaways from this process has been realizing how important perspective and positive outlook can be. There aren’t any shortcuts, but we’re capable of so much more than we think we are. I noticed something similar in my first marathon. In the build up, there was so much talk of the dreaded 20 mile “wall.” When I crossed mile 20. I was so psyched, “only another 10K!” You just have to stay positive.