Todd Burns Down the Farm: Guest Post

[A little while back, my brother, Todd, posted a status on Facebook talking about his lifestyle change and subsequent 100-pound weight loss over the past year or so. His post was so heartfelt, and so motivational to his Facebook friends, that I asked him to recreate it for you.

Todd’s story is pretty extraordinary in that he was at a point in his life where, personally, just about everything “normal” was pulled out from under him. That’s the kind of stuff that causes most people to hit rock bottom, succumb to unhealthy eating habits, or give up on fitness altogether. Todd took this time at “rock bottom” as a chance to rebuild his life in a positive way — and to do so in a way that was sustainable, manageable, and reasonable.

His outlook is remarkable, especially given what he’s been through in the last few years, and I hope you glean some inspiration from his thoughts!]



I have officially lost a third of myself.

I cannot give you a specific time frame of when it started, but I can tell you that, as of this moment, I have officially lost 1/3 of my body weight.

Some of it was not intentional, but a lot of it was.

The most satisfying part has happened over the past four months.

I was in the process of taking yet another of life’s curve-balls to the chin when I decided some things needed to change. I was tired of feeling like crap, and I needed something to throw myself into, something positive for a change. So I decided my health and fitness was going to become my #1 priority. That included a major diet change along with jumping head-first into joining a boot camp class.

Anyone that knows me knows I love eating carbs, especially pizza and cookies. This was not going to be an easy change. I won’t bore you with the details of what my diet consists of, but I will tell you that this has been an incredible experience.

I have learned a lot about myself and what I can do/how far I can push myself when I set my mind to it:

1) I actually enjoy seafood. That came as a total surprise. I spent most of my life thinking I hated it, mostly because I remembered eating fish sticks as a kid and hating every second of it. Turns out, not all seafood tastes like fish sticks.

2) I have an amazing sister. Kristen has taught me so many things about nutrition and working out. Apparently it is a good thing to have a personal trainer and Health Coach in the family when you want to start focusing on health and fitness. I know I have her support, regardless of the situation.


[I promise, I didn’t ask him to say this. This was legitimately on the list when he posted this on Facebook and was unbeknownst to me until I realized I was tagged in it.]


3) I can do around 250 push-ups in a 45 minute time period. But I can’t jump rope. At all.

4) I’ve dropped 40 pounds in the last four months.

5) I hate running long distance, but I love sprints.

6) All of the medicine I was taking for Crohn’s Disease — I have stopped taking 90% of it. Yes, diet does make a big difference, at least for me.

7) I set a weight goal 4 months ago that I wanted to hit by the end of this year. I hit that goal well over a month ago. I set another goal and met that as well. I am now well on my way to achieving my third goal.

8 ) After 4 months of drinking close to a gallon of water a day, you would think your bladder would adjust? Umm, not so much. I’m still waiting for that to happen.

9) When people ask about my diet, the first reaction I get is “you and that crazy diet.” It’s made me realize that in today’s society, eating three “full” meals a day is so ingrained into our mentality, anything else is “crazy.”

10) Sometimes you have to take a chance — swing for the fences — and not be afraid of the results. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. If it works, great. If not, that’s okay too. It may not turn out the way you expected, and the results may be a little a painful. I think I would rather have the satisfaction of knowing I tried than the regret of not trying at all.

11) A big part of my lifestyle change has been to focus on keeping things positive. We can only control so much in life, and I refuse to give control to the negative things that happen. To that end, I spend a lot of time reading different blogs about keeping things positive and being mindful of your surroundings. My favorite is Zenhabits by Leo Babauta. The man used Star Wars in this post to get his point across about not being afraid to make changes in your life. That was enough to reel me in. It’s one of my favorite posts, and I am constantly going back to read it again.


[If you’re not a Star Wars geek like Todd and I, we forgive you. Here’s the short version: Luke Skywalker is wrestling with his desire to create a new life for himself and his “duty” to remain on Tatooine with the only family he’s ever known. When he returns to his family farm, however, and his family has literally been killed by the Empire and his farm has been burned down, his decision is made for him. The idea behind Babauta’s post is to metaphorically burn down the farm and jump forward into change — despite the uncertainty, despite the unpredictability. Luke had no comfort zone to which to return, and that propelled him forward. Todd had no comfort zone to which to return, either. The same can metaphorically apply to you.]


12) I am addicted to peanut butter. I could eat it all day.

13) Push-ups make everything better. This probably should have been listed first.

14) A lot of people ask me if I am dieting. My answer is always “no.” To me, using the word “dieting” in that context makes it seem like I am temporarily changing what I eat/how I live and then going back to what I was doing before. I am not looking for short-term results only; this is about the bigger picture.

15) Changing your lifestyle is a lot easier to do when you know someone else is watching, holding you accountable. Learning to do it on your own, being accountable to only yourself, is a much larger challenge.

16) I have a new appreciation for blankets, hoodies and, well, anything that will keep me warm. I am cold all the time. Losing weight means I lost insulation that kept me warm. That’s a trade I will make everyday.

17) The most important thing I have learned through this process is that life is a never-ending lesson. There are always tests and unexpected things that life will throw at you, the key is how you handle them. Life is what you make of it, so are you going to bury your head and hope things will get better, or do something to MAKE things improve?

18) The second most important thing I have learned is that you need to do things just for yourself sometimes. I have spent much of my life doing for others: being the good friend, making sure everyone else was happy, and being the first person in line if anyone needed anything. I don’t want to lose that part of myself, but there comes a time when you need to focus on yourself, make sure that you are okay and happy. You need to learn to be selfish every now and then. The two things I set out to do at the beginning of this process were to find exactly what makes me happy and to finally find out exactly how much I am capable of and how far I can push myself. I have a pretty good idea so far, but I surprise myself constantly.


Change is possible if you set your mind to it, and you are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for.

Change is scary, but it doesn’t always need to be a bad thing.

What’s stopping you from making healthy changes?

For me, it was always thinking I couldn’t do it.

Turns out, I could. I just needed to prove it to myself.


[Todd’s positive approach to change stemmed from the idea that he deserved change — not from a sense of self-punishment or vengeance for what he’d already suffered.

That same sense of well-deserved change will guide everything we do in the Following Fit Online Bootcamp, starting Monday, January 13th. There’s still room for you!]


About Kristen

I teach literature to high school students by day. I lift heavy things, train clients, and eat peanut butter by night.

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