How I Lost 60 Pounds In 1 Year With A New Healthstyle

by | Mar 23, 2011
Patrick in Sept - 20 lbs ago

Patrick in Sept 2010 (20 lbs ago)

I recently learned about Patrick from a comment he left here at Summer Tomato. I was astounded by his tremendous weight loss success and touched by his story of how he got there.

Patrick describes himself as “just a regular guy that works a corporate job who decided to educate himself with the internet and use the knowledge to upgrade my healthstyle.”

I hope he inspires you as much as he’s inspired me.

P.S. Because of Patrick I’m now doing interval training again, and I’ve noticed a difference in less than a week. w00t!

How I Lost 60 Pounds In 1 Year With A New Healthstyle

by Patrick Birke

My journey really began two years ago with the birth of my daughter. She was born in March, and the following summer my wife and I bought out a friend’s CSA (community supported agriculture) summer share who was moving out of the neighborhood. With ¾ of the summer season left, we received more vegetables than we knew what to do with.

We began making our own baby food for our infant daughter. Steaming fresh veggies, pureeing them and freezing it into ice cube trays was the perfect way to feed her over the next year without the need to ever buy store bought baby food. By the time the season was over we were hooked on the CSA. The three of us even went to visit the farm for their annual fall harvest celebration, we picked our own pumpkins and saw where all of our yummy veggies were grown.

This was the first step to the new me. I was introduced to fresh vegetables that I would normally pass right by at the grocery store (things I didn’t even know they had, but have now noticed) such as kale, swiss chard, fennel, leeks, rutabaga, turnips, squash, brussels sprouts, rhubarb, just to name a few.

That fall we ran out of our CSA stock but we did purchase a half cow and half pig from a local farmer to get us through the long Minnesota winter.

Local grass-fed beef is great, but I quickly learned that it cannot be the only thing in my diet.

By spring 2010, I was up to 200 pounds. We signed up again for the CSA summer share but I knew if I wanted to lose weight and gain muscle, that diet alone would not do it. So I joined a gym. I have belonged to various gyms in my life and even have an elliptical in my basement, but I never lost weight in the past because I hadn’t changed my diet.

I started out slowly, going only once or twice a week. I would use the elliptical for 50 minutes while watching an episode of True Blood or other action show where the cast is ripped. This was great motivation to get to the gym—I could go get bad Chinese food with my co-workers or I could workout and see what trouble Sookie Stackhouse was in today.

In summer 2010, we began receiving our CSA summer share again. We made it a fun weekly routine to pull our daughter in her wagon to the CSA drop off location in our neighborhood. We would also stop by one of the dozens of farmers markets around Minneapolis to fill in what we needed.

I was back on a balanced vegetable diet and increasing my gym time to 2-3 times per week, but the picture was still not complete. The next piece of the puzzle was to start cutting things out that I don’t need. This includes soda, fast food, frozen pizzas, delivery pizza, milk, juice, processed and packaged food, etc.

Breaking these habits did not happen overnight, but over the course of the year I’ve done pretty well. Cutting out soda was easy, especially when I gave up coffee (which was not for weight loss reasons, but for caffeine withdrawl headaches). Since I spend my lunch hour at the gym, I no longer get fast food for lunch. Instead I bring a sandwich (tuna, turkey, chicken, etc.) and a piece of fruit. There are times when I do buy my lunch, but I get a salad instead.

I still enjoy going out to dinner with friends or family and am not too concerned about what I eat there, but I am mindful of the pitfalls (dinner rolls, buffalo wings, movie popcorn, cookie dough Blizzards, etc.). At home we occasionally get take out, but it is just as fast to cook something than wait for delivery or pick up take out.

By cutting these things out, eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise, I started to really see some progress. I lost 40 pounds by the fall of 2010 without starving myself or counting calories. I am conscious of portions and always read food labels, (especially for the first few ingredients) but it does not rule me.

By fall, I had run out of True Blood and switched to shorter television shows on the elliptical, using the remaining time to lift weights. Again I started slowly with just a few weight machines. I also went back to the internet and read about the benefits of mixing a lifting routine with interval cardio.

I decreased my time on the elliptical, increased my time lifting and started experimenting with intervals on the treadmill. Some people might call it HIIT (high-intensity interval training), but I like to think of it is as MIIT (moderate-intensity interval training). I could always run faster but I am not interested in blacking out or throwing up after a workout, because I do have to go back to work!

Over winter 2010-2011, I was doing a 10 minute warmup on the elliptical (now watching The Tudors in 10 min intervals), then lifting for 20 minutes (I mix in free weights with weight machines), then 20 minutes of intervals (one minute walk, @ 4 mph, one minute jog @ 6 or 7 mph, one minute run at 9 or 9.5 mph, repeat).

Although the treadmill calculates less calories burned doing intervals verses just running @ 8 mph for 20 minutes, I get super sweaty and feel great! Again, I use my phone to motivate me, I listen to Stuff You Should Know or other podcasts while lifting, and Girl Talk or other up tempo music while running.

I now go to the gym 3-5 times a week as my work schedule allows. I work in a very tall building in downtown Minneapolis, so the days that I cannot get there (due to lunch meetings or other) I run/walk up the stairs between meetings, sometimes more than 10 flights at a time. It gets the heart pumping, but I don’t even get winded anymore.

From fall 2010 until now, I have lost another 20 pounds bringing the total to over 60 pounds. My weight has plateaued again, but that is fine. I am slowly gaining muscle while losing the remaining belly fat, which means my weight is pretty stable.

For the winter, we signed up for a winter share from the same CSA. We received a lot of root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, etc.) along with fruits and vegetables they saved from the summer and froze. We include spinach, kale or chard in almost every meal we can. The CSA also includes really good bread and granola they make on the farm.

These days it is all about routine and spending time cooking with my family. We plan a vegetarian night (Meatless Monday!), a fish night (ahi, salmon, sword fish, etc.) and a meat/pasta night (local beef, pork or chicken). With enough leftovers to get us through the rest of the week. My wife and I both bring our lunches and snack on nuts or fruit between meals.

Although I have cut out a lot of junk food, I don’t feel like I am missing out. I still enjoy alcohol and have a glass (or two) of wine or Scotch almost every night. I try to stay away from sugary desserts, but do have the occasional piece of cake or ice cream.

By reading Summer Tomato and the links that Darya provides, I have started to incorporate other foods such as white beans, lentils, quinoa, etc., especially on vegetarian nights. I’ve learned to love food and really pay attention to it instead of just cramming anything into my mouth. I’m always looking for new and interesting recipes. I’m even starting to get to the point that I can make dinner without having to pre-plan it, just by using what is on hand.

This summer we’re signed up with the CSA for our 3rd year, and have added a fruit share. I’m on the look out for an egg share and possibly a bread share, though I might try to start baking my own bread instead.

To summarize, I attribute my weight loss success to a combination of diet, exercise and cutting out the junk. Each one of those things alone would not (and have not in the past) accomplished it. The love of my family and cooking together keeps me going everyday.


Patrick Birke

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14 Responses to “How I Lost 60 Pounds In 1 Year With A New Healthstyle”

  1. Solozaur says:

    Wow, such an inspiring article!
    Taking notes on this, maybe I will be sending you an email like that in a few years! But I have about 100lbs to lose 😐

  2. Congrats on your loss! I lost a similar amount of weight by just being mindful of calories, exercising more, and forgiving myself for my foodie indiscretions. 🙂 Now, I have decided that any further weight loss will be a byproduct of an overall balanced lifestyle.

  3. Laura says:

    This is such an inspiring story, partly for your commitment to a true lifestyle change and partly because it really demonstrates how health is connected not to crazy workout regimes and pills, but to getting in touch with your body and its need for real food, real movement and real relationships. Change is scary in any form, and I have no doubt your wife (and one day your daughter) are insanely proud of you for finding a way to be a better father and husband for longer!

    • Raul Guerreo says:

      Congrats on the loss. Your story is almost the exact blueprint I used to shed 180 pounds in 11 months. June 2009 I was 385 and growing. After my father had a stroke I began to take my diet a lot more serious. I cut out all fast food and upped my vegetable intake considerably. I was eating approximately 80% vegetarian based meals. I began to lose 15-20 pounds a month and my motivation to stick to this diet kept growing. I dropped to 205 within 11 months and my energy level skyrocketed. I took up running and now average over 100 miles month. Reading your testimony has reinvigorated my desire to incorporate more vegetarian meals like I was doing before. Great story.

  4. Sharon says:

    What a great story! I, too, lost close to this but it was over a three-year span. I did it initially through just eating less of what I was already eating. Fortunately, I started reading a ton of books on food and the food industry and realized that McDonald’s was a horrible food choice – even if I was only getting a happy meal instead of a number 1 supersized.

    More incredible than weight loss is the mindset shift that happens when you educate yourself. Even on days when I don’t eat all that well, I still read the labels. And there’s certain foods that I flat-out won’t eat because I no longer have the taste for them (bbq beef/pork, fried anything and drive-thru just doesn’t get eaten. ever.).

    I think the final stage of true change happens when you start eating for fuel. As in, you eat things that give you energy and positive spirits and avoid things that deplete both of those. After that, the sky’s the limit with what one can accomplish. And your story is proof of that.

    Congrats again, Patrick!

  5. Kelli from Edinburgh says:

    I’ve been reading up on a lifestyle change and this true to life / no B.S. article has given me the wee nudge I needed. Thank you!

  6. Chris says:

    Fantastic story! Very motivating. I am also finding that the glass of wine each night (and a scotch or two on the weekends) goes a long way toward dampening feelings of deprivation.

  7. Brian says:

    Inspiring story! Just goes to show that moderate calorie restriction (however it’s achieved) plus exercise is the simplest way to lose fat. Getting from 30%+ body fat to 15% or so is a goal that everybody should be able to reach pretty painlessly. (Getting from there to 10% and below is a bit harder!)

  8. Chez Us says:

    Motivating! Inspiring! I am a firm believer … cut out the crap. Processed food = bad! Fast food = bad! It really does not take hours, to make a healthy meal, with a protein and some veggies. And … a pound of broccoli is cheaper then that medium pizza from the frozen aisle or the guy down the street!

  9. Joel says:

    Excellent story. I did the exact same thing, starting a little over a year ago and have made similar progress, though I had been near 300lbs so the 70 lbs I have lost so far is just the beginning.

    It really goes to show you though, it only takes a bit of exercise each week and informed/intelligent food choices to start to see results. After that, ramping up the exercise is really just a natural progression.

    Congrats on your success and I hope it continues for you!

  10. I also live in Minneapolis and would love to know which CSA Patrick used.

  11. Kurt says:

    I was looking for stories from someone who had lost about 60lb in a year because that is what I have to achieve. Since I am in the MN area I may have to try this CSA out and here at the office in Richfield we have a pretty nice gym that I can easily attend. I signed up at and if I can achieve this they will pay me $1,000. It will be tough but stories like yours prove it is possible.

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