Sam Keen losses 200-pound weight and now is training for the upcoming Aramco Houston Half Marathon

Previous attempts at weight loss had temporary results at best, Keen added. “I was really good at losing 10 pounds and then giving up and gaining 20,” he said.

While stranded by the high waters, Keen started thinking about what he could do differently. “Something got into me that made me want to try harder and really commit,” he said.

First, he decided to cut carbs from his diet and fill up on protein instead. Then, he started to walk.

“At almost 400 pounds, walking is enough,” he said. “I’d go 20 minutes and a little less than a mile, which was a long way for me then.”

He increased his time and distance until he walked about four hours each day. “I listened to every podcast,” he said. “I pushed as much as my feet could bear.”

Keen dropped 100 pounds in six months. “That becomes addictive,” he said. “Instead of going to the bar and drinking a few beers, I’d go for a walk. I would walk to work, 2 miles each way.”

But after a while, walking four hours a day started to bore him. Then one day, he walked by Orangetheory Fitness, a gym known for hourlong classes combining cardio and strength training.

“I looked it up, and it scared me,” he said. “But that was a good thing. I wanted to do something that scared me. I needed a push.”

He liked that people of all fitness levels feel welcome. “I fell in love with it,” he said. “It was exactly what I needed.”

The support offered by the coaches, who push clients to meet their fitness goals, ended up being his favorite part. Head coach Austin McCafferty said that the feeling was mutual.

He first met Keen in a three-person training session with McCafferty’s wife. “Sam fit in perfectly with our group,” McCafferty said. “It was a lot of fun.”

Then, Keen shared his weight-loss story. “I would have never known,” McCafferty said. “It was just mind-blowing. It was truly astonishing to see.”

McCafferty added that Keen is a perfect example of dedication. “Progress starts one small step at a time,” McCafferty said. “You have to stay consistent, set your routine and have determination, like Sam did.”

With the help of the trainers, Keen noticed another benefit he hadn’t expected: “I started feeling confident. The coaches made me feel empowered. That was something I didn’t even know I needed.”

Before long, he was signing up for competitions at Orangetheory. Then, he started running outside more — and wanted to push that as well.

About six months ago, Keen and a friend signed up for the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon in Florida. He downloaded a training plan online and competed in the race this fall. He also completed the La Porte By the Bay Half Marathon in November.

“Two years ago, I couldn’t walk a 5K,” Keen said. “Here I am, running without stopping 13.1 miles. Two years is not much time.”

He is now training for the upcoming Aramco Houston Half Marathon. He’ll run another in Austin in February, and a third in Fort Worth in March.

His goal now is to travel the country competing in races. He has a map ready to keep track. In May, he heads to Pittsburgh for his first full marathon. His second is in Seattle in June.

posted Monday January 6th
by Lindsay Peyton