Jamie Woolridge of Southlake stepped up the challenge.
Or rather, he walked — and even ran — to the challenge, all while eating less and avoiding diets.
Woolridge recently won the Fit City Challenge, an event featuring residents of Southlake, Keller and Colleyville in which they compete for 45 days for fitness points through a variety of activities.
“I’m competitive by nature,” the 59-year-old Woolridge said. “In a nutshell, if it is an activity, it counts. Anything that gets you moving.
“There were several highly active people in the competition, including some triathletes, long-distance bikers, swimmers, runners, kick boxers, yoga instructors, pickleball players, etc.”
In the six-week competition, participants received a designated/defined number of points for each specific activity, based on the activity and duration.
“I would check on my nearest competitors daily, and if someone passed me, it would push me to work that much harder,” Woolridge said. “I probably increased my activity by about 20 to 25% per day to attain the top position.”
Woolridge’s journey to fitness began long before the Fit City Challenge, which was held for a second year. He lost around 100 pounds in a matter of a few months in 2021.
“A series of events in a short time frame triggered my action. First, we were in the middle of the pandemic, and all the reports showed that people who were obese, diabetic, had high blood pressure, and other comorbidities were more likely to have difficulty with COVID,” he said. “After a doctor visit for my annual physical on March 12 of 2021, I decided enough was enough. I had gained about 15 pounds during the lockdown, and my blood work indicated high cholesterol and pre-diabetes.
“I was clinically obese, had high blood pressure — on meds, under control — took a proton pump inhibitor for gastric reflux, a candidate for statin medication, and knocking on the door of diabetes.”
Then, he got a little boost from his wife, Sally, who was having a little fun with him after he “may or may not have fallen asleep in church.” She snapped a picture of him with her phone.
“It was not a flattering picture, to say the least,” Woolridge said.
Looking at the photo and realizing he would like to be in better physical shape for his son’s upcoming wedding that October, Woolridge made a life-changing decision. He was already walking three to four miles daily with his dog, but it wasn’t enough, considering he had a diet that offset pretty much every bit of exercise.
“My real issue was on the consumption side. I had no idea how many calories I was taking in every day,” he said. “In the past, I had experienced, rapid, short-term success with fad diets, but they were not sustainable for me, and ultimately, I would end up gaining back the lost weight, and typically, add a few extra pounds, too.”
‘Amazed’ by all the calories
So, he asked Sally for help. They had been married for a year after he lost his first wife to cancer.
While he was reluctant at first to her suggestion of counting calories, he relented. They set up an excel spreadsheet, then he found an app called LoseIt!, which he still uses today to log everything he eats and drinks.
And, thus, the health journey began.
“The plan, built from my input into the app, was to lose 1.5 pounds per week. We bought a food scale, an air fryer for healthier cooking options, and started making substitutions for high-calorie food. I was amazed at how many calories I was likely taking in per day, prior to tracking — probably between 4,000 to 5,000 on average.”
He reduced his calorie intake to 2,200 per day was strict not to exceed that amount.
He also increased his walking, first to five miles a day and then up to seven or eight.
“The weight started to drop quickly. My goal was to get to 215 pounds before my son’s wedding, which would be 70 pounds lost. I actually hit this milestone by early August, and set a new goal of 195 pounds,” Woolridge said. “As the weight came off, the activity increased, and I remain extremely active today.”
Woolridge achieved 195 pounds in early October, prior to his son’s wedding. He added running in late October.
His typical day now includes 30-35 minutes of strength training (weights/bands), 30-35 minutes of core training/stretching, and he walks at least eight miles four days per week. He also runs an additional 20-25 miles per week. On shorter run days, he walks after running to get to at least 10 miles total on those days.
Mondays are his big day. After inside activities, he completes at least a half marathon, or 13.1 miles. On days when he can’t get out because of weather, he has a treadmill and elliptical machine at home.
And he never takes a day off.
“A rest day for me is still active, just lower impact activities like walking/elliptical,” he said.
He is on maintenance calories now, consuming around 3,200 per day. While he doesn’t restrict any specific foods, he does limit processed sugar as much as possible. He also limits liquid calories to as few as possible, typically none in a given day.
In October 2021, he ran a 5K. Then in December of that year he ran/walked his first ever marathon.
“Since then, I have run many more races, including another marathon that I ran the whole way, several half marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks, and I have been in the top three in my age group in several of these races,” he said.
“I am training now for my third marathon this December and am hoping to qualify for the Boston Marathon in the next two years.”
‘No excuses approach to nutrition’
His family is extremely happy with Woolridge’s life change.
“They still all comment how good I look and how happy they are that I am healthier,” he said.
Sally said her husband’s health and wellness journey has been inspiring to her.
“His common-sense, no excuses approach to nutrition, paired with measured exercise is a plan everyone can implement,” she said. “I am amazed by his consistency, which is the key to sustainable success.
“I am proud of him, and so happy that he is a healthier version of himself.”
He and Sally retired from Corporate America in 2020. Today, he is a volunteer, a corporate board member, husband and father - and, naturally, a health/lifestyle coach.
Winning the Fit City Challenge, Woolridge said, was a highlight for several reasons. For one, it proved to himself and others just how fit he has really become. Also, it was a sweet reward for the many hours put in and showed him that he could succeed against more than just folks in his own age bracket.
“I was very excited to win this competition. It was edification for my hard work and effort, and it showed me that I could compete with some amazing — and often much younger — athletes,” he said.
Woolridge bested over 1,000 participants in the event.
“Jamie is an absolute inspiration here in Southlake. His thousands of miles and running and walking alongside our roads and sidewalks have made him a familiar sight around town as he works hard to achieve his fitness goals,” Southlake Mayor Tom Huffman said. “It was no surprise to me that he won the Fit City Challenge — and I hope he follows up with an encore performance next year.”
Message to others
Woolridge loves sharing his success story with others — and he wants to help them in their own personal battles. He even started a company to assist them — at no charge — called ReFormed Health & Fitness.
“For those who are struggling and hopeless, I share my story, offer my service — and I started this at 56, it is never too late,” he said. “That resonates with many people. They seem to listen to someone who has been there.”
In his social media posts, he uses the hashtag #makeyourresolutionaroutine.
“This, to me, is the most important part of the journey, consistency in understanding caloric intake, and consistency in activity,” he said. “You cannot out-exercise a bad diet.”