building a life

I couldn’t be more delighted to be hosting a special guest today. I met Todd Locker during my one-week stay at BLR, when he was kicking off his first of four weeks there. (Lucky!) After I got back home, I connected with him on Facebook and have been awed ever since by the challenges he has taken on. His story continues to inspire me… 


Having put in 20 years in a fast-paced, deadline-laden and often stressful career, I woke up one day, looked in the mirror, and couldn’t recognize the person looking back at me.

60 to 80 hour work weeks had taken their toll. The reward for all that hard work was 100 lbs. of fat, high blood pressure and no hobbies outside of work.

I was death walking.

During those lost years I worked 6 or 7 days per week with virtually no vacations. I lost track of my hopes and dreams, had very little communication with family and friends, missed weddings, reunions. I never married or had children. I became a one dimensional workhorse.

For many years I enjoyed my profession but, by not taking care of me, I started to hate my job and myself. I started taking out my self-loathing on my subordinates. Fortunately it only took me a couple of weeks to realize this. I was embarrassed and ashamed of how I had begun treating the people I had a great deal of respect for.

Another thing haunted me. One of my favorite managers had died suddenly, in his office, of a heart attack. He was in his early 60s.

I did not want to die at work from a heart attack brought on by stress and not taking care of myself. This thought remained stuck in my head over three years after the tragedy.

I knew a heart attack could come at any time unless things changed. I knew the changes had to be quick and big, but also sustainable. I decided to take a sabbatical. One of the benefits of having worked so much is that I had saved a nice nest egg which allowed me to take the time to regroup.

The first day of my sabbatical I woke up terrified. Where do I start? How do I start? I had to work on every area of my life. It took me over 15 years to get myself into this state; I knew that losing the weight and reengaging my hopes and dreams wouldn’t happen overnight.

I started taking walks and eating better. The walks were short: 2 to 3 miles, three or four times a week. I slowly began incorporating new things into my diet. I cut out almost all fast food. Slowly I began losing weight.

Todd DLI don’t have any pictures at my heaviest. This photo in my then-current driver’s license was taken 6 months into my journey when I weighed 267 lbs. At my heaviest I was close to 290 lbs.

As the weight came off, I started walking further distances with more frequency. I also took up bike riding, and even rode from Seattle to LA! I continued to lose weight and focus on better nutrition.

From time to time I would meet up with colleagues still working at the company I had left. I saw that familiar dazed, burned out, look in their eyes. It was the same look the mirror had reflected back at me. I decided I would never go back to work there.

After close to four years of making better choices, I was down to 220 lbs. Typically I would lose 15 to 20 lbs. then stay within 5 lbs. of that weight for 4 to 6 months. Then I would make another push to drop some more weight.

I was in it for the long haul, so as long as I was making progress, regardless how little or how slowly, I knew I was okay. I never beat myself up for slipping on my diet or missing a workout but I also never lost sight of my weight loss and health goals. I just kept moving forward.

One of my goals before going back to work was to get below 200 lbs. and at 220 lbs. I needed one final push. I also wanted to see if the nutritional knowledge I gained over the years was actually good. So I started searching fitness resorts online. One that kept coming up was the Biggest Loser Resort (BLR) in Malibu. The price was not, and the reviews were great, so I made reservations for a four-week stay.

Todd at BLR wk 3During my stay I met incredible people, many of whom will be lifelong friends. Many, like Nancy, have really helped keep things in perspective and offered motivation when I found myself going through a rough patch.

Everybody visiting BLR is at a different place in their weight loss and health journey. This goes for the trainers, support staff, hiking guides etc. Many have lost well over 100 lbs. and some are just beginning their journeys or starting over.

The best thing about it is that there is no judgment, just lots of support and encouragement. The program is geared to make sure you will get a good workout regardless of your fitness level.

This picture was taken at the end of my third week.

BLR statsBy the end of my stay I had lost a total of 26 lbs., dropping to 194 lbs, and reduced my body fat from 24% down to 16%.

And here is a copy of my Guest Fitness Assessment for proof of my stats!

Since my stay at BLR, I have kept most of the weight off, and continue to lead a healthy lifestyle.

I have gone on numerous hikes with many BLR alumni, and even took ran in the Disney Tinker Bell Half Marathon as well as the Portland Half Marathon.

My biggest physical accomplishment to date was a 4 day/3 night summit of Mt. Rainier along the Kautz glacier route. TJ, the BLR Hiking Program Director, joined me for this incredible challenge.

Here we are at the summit proudly displaying the BLR banner!

Todd TJ Mt Ranier

This past January a few BLR alums, TJ and I all made the trip to Africa to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro at the 19,340′ Uhuru Peak.

I hoisted this “12th Man” banner in support of the Seattle Seahawks at the summit just hours before they won the Superbowl!

Summit Kili

This is just the beginning; I’m looking forward to many more adventures.

To close, I wanted to share something I heard the other day which really resonated with me:

Build a life. Don’t live one, build one. Find your opportunities.

BLR helped me do that. I’m so grateful to BLR and all of my fellow alums for their support and encouragement along the way!


Thank you Todd for sharing your amazing story with us! You continue to be a huge inspiration to me as I follow your adventures through Facebook!

Keep moving!

xoxo nancy

73 thoughts on “building a life

  1. thank you for sharing this!!
    really really awesome achievement!!
    I agree, build yourself the life you want to have, but really live it too!
    far to many people just wait for the life they want to happen to them, with no input.
    Congratulations for making yours so much better 😀
    and thanks Nancy for having such a great guest post 😀

  2. Hi Nancy and Todd! What a GREAT inspirational story about how our health AND our happiness is so much more important than just working to be “successful.” My husband and I are traveling right now in Mexico and sure we could be at home slugging it out to make more money and get more done but there is SO-O-O much we would be missing. IMHO life is to be savored and enjoyed and that is much more important than saying I was successful (by other people’s standards) in my career. Keep moving and stay healthy! ~Kathy

    • Thanks Kathy! It is so important to take time for yourself and family. Not taking time out for yourself I think was one of the biggest hurdles a large portion of the guests at BLR had to confront. For most, especially moms, they had not even thought of doing something for just themselves for years. The guilt from just leaving their families to take time for themselves was an incredible obstacle for many to overcome. It was uplifting just to see the support people gave each other and friendships that were being made. Keeping a healthy perspective of your own health is vital! Enjoy Mexico and your husband!!

  3. What an amazing story – but he really verbalized what I’ve been struggling with – as long as I’m moving forward, it’s okay. It was so good to hear that others hit plateaus that last months at a time, I’ve struggled w/feeling very discouraged with it, so it is great to have the validation that I’m not alone!

    • Losing the first 20 for me was pretty easy (well, bullshit, it was HARD WORK, but the weight came off when the work went in). It’s the next 20 that have been a bitch. I think I need another bootcamp situation. Am considering another one-week visit to BLR to kickstart that process…

      • I lost 50 lb last year, gained 10 back, and so far I’m back down 11 – so in a year and just over a half, 51 lbs. which sounds good, but being stuck for months was killing me! It’s just recently that I’ve gone back down the 11 lbs, so I’m on the right track. But man, I’d love to join you at BLR! Sounds like a great way to kick start!
        PS, are you back in the States yet? You won the Best Buy GC, and I’ve been waiting for you to return! LOL. I don’t want to forget – but your last trip here was so fast I missed it! (It probably wasn’t that fast, but you know, time is relative!)

      • Still in TO – will be here until I get the home renos done and the house listed. Plan is to head down after that. Exact timing…TBD. 🙂
        YAY on the Best Buy card!

        I hate being stuck at the final 20. Some days I wonder if this is my ‘ideal’ weight, because it’s the weight I don’t need to really work to stay at. I eat a lot, work out a little every day, and haven’t gained anything since I lost the first 20, but I’m also not dropping any more. It’s an internal debate for me: Am I reasonably happy at this weight – knowing I am living an awesome life (no deprivation, not killing myself for 2+ hours at the gym every day (like I was through much of 2013), OR do I put in the extra work and drop the remaining pounds… It’s a tough call. No six pack abs in my future either way, but maybe it would mean dropping another dress size or two…

      • See, it sounds like you are at a good place – you are healthy and fit, and not struggling. I think that is a great place to be! I’m working on being fit, and getting to a point where I know I’m good, and that I can maintain like you are.
        On the other hand – reasonably happy doesn’t sound as good as it should, and maybe you should give the last 20 one more go! Mix it up a bit and see what happens! 🙂

      • I probably should have phrased that better. I am very happy in my life. I’m reasonably happy with my physical appearance. 🙂

        So, to your point, if I’m healthy and fit, and can take on virtually any challenge without fear I’m not strong enough to complete it (plans to climb Kilimanjaro, Machu Picchu, Mt. Whitney, etc., etc.) then why am I allowing vanity to make me feel only “reasonably happy” because of a remaining muffin top? 🙂

        I’ll figure all this shit out one day, Kate. I’m sure of it. 🙂

    • Kate – Thanks! Sounds like you are doing an incredible job on your journey to get and remain healthy as well! As long as you are in it for the long haul NEVER beat yourself up. Most steps getting to the top of Mt Rainier were only inches at best and sometimes we had to go down hill to reach higher heights. Consistency over time will get you there. It’s good to have others who understand to lean on, cause one day they will need you to help them through a rough patch as well. Keep up the good work!

  4. I never tire of reading stories about people who’ve lost weight and improved their health by making complete lifestyle changes. It’s an inspiration to anyone, whether they’re overweight or not. This is another wonderful tale of success. Congratulations! And a bike trip from Seattle to LA? Wow!!

      • It was supposed to have happened THIS year!! 😛

        My Rim to River was pretty amazing – although I don’t recommend doing it in the summer months. 🙂 I had asked John if he wanted to join but he was traveling that day.

        Let’s do the Rim to Rim soon! Fall is a lovely time to do it!

  5. Excellent post ~ I enjoyed it from first to last.

    Todd ~ are you still on sabbatical? Or have you transitioned back to the work force? Or have you switched from employment to self-employed?

    • Since Todd may not be checking back for comments, I’ll jump in here. I think Todd went back to work about a year or so ago, shortly after his stay at BLR, but – based on his travel and adventures, it seems like he’s getting good vacation time in! 😉

    • Instead of going back to work for a real estate management company I decided to reposition and sell two small apartment building my father and I had. We had purchased them close to 25 years ago. My dad was living off the income. The properties were located in Seattle and I was working primarily in Portland, OR and was not helping him run the apartments. They needed a lot of work so I spent about a year fixing them up and then brokered the sales. We were able to purchase 60 units with plans to build more units. I’m moved to Vancouver WA to develop the property. So I am trying not to go back to work for someone else.

  6. What an inspiring story, Nancy please share my “thanks for sharing” with Todd. And if you could yell a big “Go Seahawks” in his direction that would be great too. 🙂 The best 12th man flag photo I’ve seen. 🙂

    • It was very, very cool (even for this Bills fan) to see the pic of him at the peak, with this banner, the day they won!

      If Todd doesn’t check back in I’ll be sure to email him to let him know he made a fellow Hawks fan smile!

  7. Firstly, wow, Nancy, what a great choice of a human being to highlight on your blog. Thank you, thank you.
    Secondly, Todd, you really are a guy who walked the talk and continue to do so. Your story is marvelous, and rousing. What a sense of spirit and adventure–and most of all accomplishment. Congratulations. Thank you for sharing, but most of all for being wonderfully encouraging.
    I wish you continued heartiness for life, and lifelong good health. Cheers!

  8. Todd, congrats on not just getting healthy, but on re-writing your life on your terms. Truly inspirational!

    And Nancy, great job wrangling Todd into guest posting. He would do a great job on a blog of his own! 🙂

    • Thanks! Nancy didn’t have to wrangle too hard. I have really enjoyed her blog over the last year or so. I was happy to contribute! As fare as my own blog, where to start?! I just realized there were a few more comments to respond to from this post.

      Thanks again!!

    • Sadly, I think most do not stick to it. I am a member of several BLR alumni groups on Facebook, and I see that many people go back again and again, often for several weeks at a time, yet don’t seem to be able to get it to stick, so to speak. Unless you’re willing to put in the work to make the necessary lifestyle changes, then it’s just another crash diet or short-term weight loss thing. (In this case, a rather expensive one…)

      Todd, and several others, are to be applauded for their sticktoitness! 🙂

      • Absolutely! Coming from someone who doesn’t always complete projects, I give him a standing ovation. So far, yoga is the only “kick” that has actually stuck for me 🙂

      • Thanks so much.

        One thing that helps me is momentum. Once I set a goal I find by making continued & sustained progress in the right direction, no matter how small, gets the momentum going. Once the avalanche starts it is easier to sustain and eventually achieve the goal. If it is a worthwhile goal you can not let little setbacks mess you up. You have to be honest with what got you off track but can not get stuck dwelling on it or you may get derailed.

      • Absolutely! Throwing in the towel because of one bad meal choice (or not exercising fir a few days) is just silly, but so many do just that.
        I love the idea of setting mini goals and watching them snowball from momentum. Great advice!

  9. Pingback: working at it every day | my year[s] of sweat!

  10. Todd you are truly one of a kind and your personality and your spirit are endearing.
    Your journey has been amazing. So lucky to have met you! Hike on!

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