Inspiration: Adam Speelhoffer’s 117-Pound Weight Loss

This Royersford native not only steered clear of the Freshman 15—he trimmed off over a hundred pounds.

Adam Speelhoffer, before and after

For most college kids, the Freshman 15 is almost inevitable. Adam Speelhoffer isn’t most college kids.

When the Royersford native left for school two years ago, he decided to make a change—a big change. It led to a dramatic 117-pound weight loss, a whole new approach to eating, and a newfound love of fitness. Read his incredible weight-loss story below.

What inspired you to make this change in your lifestyle?

I had always wanted to lose weight throughout high school but never felt like I could. I was set in my habits. It wasn’t until I went away to college that I felt like I could make the change. Since nobody knew me, I felt able to actually go and make adjustments because I had nothing to lose. I started going to the gym and eating right as soon as I got there so I could establish heathy habits right off the bat.

What was your starting weight and date?

I started on August 28th, 2011, and I weighed 330 pounds. In all, I’ve lost 117 pounds and currently weigh 213 pounds.

What were some of first steps you took towards achieving your goal?

I started off by counting calories. I wasn’t super strict with it, but I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going over 2,000 calories a day. So I started making little changes, like eating a salad at least once a day, just so I could get into the habit of eating healthier.

What’d you do for fitness?

For the first two weeks, I did 45 minutes of cardio followed by weight training for one or two major muscle groups, like my back or legs. I did that six times a week and took Sundays off. As I got healthier and more in shape, I began doing an hour of cardio six days a week in addition to the weight training. By the end of my first school year, I had lost about 90 pounds and was doing 85 minutes of cardio six times a week and was up to targeting two muscle groups a day in weight training.

What about your nutrition plan?

Starting out, I was mainly eating fruits and vegetables. Now I’ve added in complex carbs so I try to avoid white bread and rice and replace them with whole grains. Once I lost over 60 pounds, I started adding more proteins into my diet as my fitness plan increased. It was also really important to me that I treat myself once a week. So if I was really craving French fries in the dining hall one day, I’d allow myself to get them but that would be my one splurge of the week.

What were some obstacles that you had to overcome throughout the process?

Definitely temptations. I wanted Nutella, like all the time. When these temptations happened I would try to substitute with a healthier option, like a fruit that I really liked. I would also try to distract myself so I wouldn’t binge because I knew I would be upset with myself afterwards. I’d try to do something more productive, like homework, to take my mind off of temptations. You just have to expect that you’re going to want to go out and get Wendy’s from time to time, but you have to learn to step back and think, “My body doesn’t want that. My body wants something that’s good for me.”

You often posted weigh loss updates online for your followers and friends to see. What role do you think this played in your weight loss progress?

On my Tumblr blog, I tracked every 15 pounds or so and made sure to document my progress just so I could go back and see what was changing. When you see your body every day, it can be hard to see any changes happening. But when you actually look at a picture from two weeks ago, you’re like, “Oh, wow! I do kinda look different.” And when you compare a picture from a year and a half ago you’re like, “Oh, wow! This is where I was and this is where I am now.” Honestly, this is what keeps me motivated because, sure, I can feel the physical differences, but it wasn’t until I looked back on my progress through Tumblr that I really saw the weight that I’ve lost.

What advice would you give to someone who is looking to lose weight?

You have to keep at it. If you have a lot of weight to loss, like I did, you’ll probably lose weight really fast in the first two weeks. In my first month, I lost 25 pounds and that was really encouraging, but then the weight loss starts to slow down which can be really discouraging. You just have to keep at it. Your body is going to get use to the food that you’re eating and the things that you’re doing at the gym, so you definitely have to keep changing it up.

Another thing, most people tend to fall off track within the first two weeks. For me, it took three to four weeks to start noticing the changes in my body. So it can be really easy to get discouraged and think that nothing is happening, but actually a lot is happening. You just don’t realize it until you hit that four-week mark.

Where are you at in terms of your goals now?

My goal is to get to 200 pounds, but I’m throwing out my scale.  I can’t keep looking at the number on the scale and seeing that as progress. I want to base my progress on how my body feels. Right now, I’m working on body composition and replacing what I have as fat with muscle because I know that’s the healthier route to go. I’ve learned that the scale can be your worst enemy. Especially when you’re building muscle because it tends to weigh more than fat. I’ve realized that it can be really discouraging when the numbers on the scale don’t show continuous weight loss even if you are getting leaner, so I’ve decided to stop looking.

>> Have an inspiring weight-loss story to share? Email eleaman@phillymag.com with details.