XXXL to XTERRA
Written by Staff Writer - www.metrosportsdc.com
Jonathan Hinkle is half the man he used to be. A former high school football player, Hinkle’s weight maxed out at over 355 pounds in his early thirties. In 2005, he set out to reverse his path, first focusing on diet then adding exercise.
As the pounds slowly dropped, his workouts ramped up and he eventually started competing in races for added motivation. This spring, Hinkle weighed in at a remarkable 193 pounds and he placed third in his category at the season’s first EX2 Backyard Burn trail run. Hinkle details his long steady adventure towards fitness on his new blog: www.jonathanfit.com.
What got you motivated to lose so much weight?
A coworker had tried to motivate me for awhile to lose weight. He finally convinced me to try a diet plan that taught me about mini meals [five mini meals and one sensible meal per day]. I used a lot of bars and shakes as mini meals because I didn’t have to think about it. Thirty days later, I’d lost around 15 pounds. All of a sudden, I was motivated. I didn’t constantly check the scale because I was afraid that if I didn’t see a certain number each time I’d be deflated and unmotivated. I just kept noticing that I could pull my belt in more and that was motivating. I had a general goal, but I didn’t over-think it and get caught up in the mental game.
When did getting active enter your regime?
I had always enjoyed biking when I was younger. After I lost the first 50 pounds, I borrowed my brother’s bike just to try to ride around the neighborhood and I broke it. That pushed me to go buy my own bike. I went to Spokes [in Ashburn, Va.] and they set me up on a full-suspension bike; told me where some of the trails were; and got me started. They became my go-to guys when I had questions and really introduced me to a larger community that I could be involved in. The next year, I was doing 2-hour rides three days per week and another 50 pounds came off. In the third year, I broke my collarbone biking so that got me motivated to try running.
Did you have very specific goals?
In the beginning I didn’t want to get caught up in weight goals—chasing the scale or some magic number. To me, there’s too much failure in that. The goal was simply to lose weight. After a couple of years, I decided I needed a more specific goal. I was reading a magazine and read about XTERRA. That got me interested in doing the XTERRA [2008 East Championships] in Richmond. I decided I needed to figure out how to race, so I signed up for a 5-miler that spring. Then I did a few duathalons. The general goal was to lose weight. The events are the short term milestones that give me something to work toward.
You travel for work. How do you stay on track?
Even when I travel around town, I always have a briefcase of snacks—a banana, an orange, nutrition bars, things like that. If I have a big lunch with a client, I’ll eat a small dinner or vice versa. When I stay overnight at a hotel, I ask the desk where I can go run or I call a local running to store and see if they have a run. Most YMCAs will let you have a free visit, so I walk in and use the pool. All I need is running shoes, shorts, shirt, goggles and trunks. That’s my travel kit.
Any advice for others looking to lose weight?
Be active. Find something you enjoy. If you enjoy it, you’ll want to do it. For me, I wanted to go biking. It’s the same with food. I found a diet that I enjoy, so I want to follow it. One size doesn’t fit all. You’ve got to find what works for you. You need to find other likeminded people. If I’m overweight or inactive and want to do something about, I need to find likeminded people who will do it with me. You need that community—that support group.