Photo: Cole Richardson
We all know the Apple Watch does a lot more than tell time. In Cole Richardson’s case, it does a lot more.
The 40-year-old IT manager from San Tan Valley, Arizona, dropped a whopping 105 pounds (48kg) in 16 months, and credits much of his success to a tiny piece of tech. “I know for a fact I would not have been this successful if it wasn’t for my Apple Watch,” Richardson told MensHealth.com.
What’s even more incredible is that Richardson lost his first 90 pounds (40kg) without stepping foot in the gym. While it wasn’t easy, Richardson’s story proves that there’s much more to losing a significant amount of weight and changing your lifestyle than killing yourself in the gym. It’s possible by making simple changes in other parts of your life, and, of course, closing those Apple Watch activity rings.
How he got started
Richardson said he’d always been a “bigger guy,” and had attempted to lose weight in the past, but never had any long-term success. “I’d pretty much accepted that I’d always be overweight,” he said. A pivotal moment came when his wife snapped some photos of him during a family outing. One particular photo stuck out to him.
Photo: Cole Richardson
“My jaw dropped when I saw that photo,” he said. “I thought, ‘Who is this guy?’ It just clicked, right there, that I needed to do something.”
He stepped on a scale that day and couldn’t believe what it said: 330 pounds (150kg).
Richardson also has a family history of heart disease, and he knew that in order to be around for his kids—a four-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son—he needed to make a change. “Everything just clicked, right there,” he said. “From that day on, everything changed.”
That day was January 2, 2017.
Both Richardson and his wife purchased an Apple Watch about six months prior to Richardson’s decision to get serious about losing weight. Once he decided it was time for him to make a change, he knew he could use the technology to help him be successful.
He started by setting small, manageable goals for himself, which he was able to track on his watch. One was walking 10 miles a week.
“The Apple Watch also has activity rings that you try to fill every day,” he said. “That was very motivating for me. I immediately started trying to hit all of my goals. The reminders were really helpful, too. For example, if I knew I had five minutes left to close a ring, I’d run up and down the stairs until I did it.”
Changes in the kitchen
Along with increasing his daily activity, Richardson knew he had to completely overhaul his diet. He had been eating lots of fast food. “Greasy pizza, fast food, huge burgers… there was nothing I wouldn’t eat,” he said. “I immediately cut out soda, sugar, and junk food, and downloaded the MyFitnessPal app to track what I was eating.”
Richardson traded burgers and fries for leaner meats and vegetables, and was able to track all of his eating habits right on his wrist. “It was really helpful getting the reminders from the app about how I’m doing during the day,” he said.
When he started his lifestyle change, Richardson thought he’d have a hard time abstaining from greasy junk food After all, he’d been eating it every day. But that wasn’t the case. “I discovered that I didn’t even crave that stuff, after a couple weeks,” he said, “A slice of greasy pizza didn’t sound remotely appetizing.”
Sweets, on the other hand, were a different story. “I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and that was a big challenge for me to overcome,” he said. So instead of depriving himself, Richardson curbed his cravings by treating himself every once in awhile. “Like I’ve been telling everyone, I’m not on a diet, I’m making a lifestyle change, and just being more mindful of what I’m eating. I can allow myself to have a small bowl of ice cream every once in awhile, because that’s something I really enjoy. Plus, it really helps to curb cravings.”
Heading to the gym
By March of 2018, Richardson had dropped down to 240 pounds (109kg). In other words, he lost 90 pounds (40kg) simply by being more active in his daily life and being more mindful of his eating habits.
Photo: Cole Richardson
“I never thought I’d be able to lose 100 pounds (45kg), but then there I was, 10 pounds (4.5kg) away from that massive goal,” he said. “When I hit that number, I knew I needed to start building muscle mass, so I wouldn’t have excess skin.”
As someone who had rarely stepped foot in a gym, Richardson enlisted the help of his mother’s husband, Rick, a former bodybuilder. “Rick and I work for the same company, and now we’re gym buddies,” he said, “He’s helped me a lot in the gym. We go three times a week, right from work.”
After a 10-minute warm-up, the two focus on a certain area of the body for the day, usually doing five to six sets of six to seven exercises, anywhere from 10 to 20 reps each.
“Then we finish with 20-30 minutes on the Stairmaster,” he said.
Since March, he’s lost an additional 15 pounds (7kg), and currently weighs 225 pounds (100kg) , 105 (48kg) pounds lighter than he did on January 2nd, 2017. His next goal is to get down to 200, then figure out where he wants to go next.
“It feels like life 2.0,” he said. “I never, ever thought I’d be able to do something like this. You hear the stories of guys losing 100 pounds (45kg), and I always just thought I physically would never be able to do that.”
Richardson said the biggest lesson he’s learned from his journey is the value of taking on a positive mindset. “If your head isn’t in it, it doesn’t matter what you do. You won’t last,” he said. “In the past, I don’t think I was mentally ready. But for some reason, everything clicked on that day, and I haven’t looked back. This is my life now.”
He also says his Apple Watch helped him stayed motivated, and continues to do so. “The watch was a physical, tangible reminder of my goal,” he said. “Obviously it tells time and I get my texts on it. But it was also a lot more. When I looked at it, I saw those rings and was reminded of the purpose of it. It reminded me of what I was doing and why I needed to keep going.”
By Reegan Von Wildenradt