I Lost 80 Pounds by Walking Around Philly and Eating Lots of Greens

The key to popular Philly deejay Robert Drake's success? He never set a goal weight.

robert drake weight loss

This Robert Drake weight loss story is proof that healthy eating and moderate exercise can go a long way. Photographs courtesy Robert Drake.

Changing your body takes hard work, persistence, and dedication. Here’s one local’s story. Want to share your Transformation Story? Email ccunningham@phillymag.com.

Who: Robert Drake, 55, producer/host WXPN, DJ, event planner, and amateur meteorologist from Pennsport in South Philadelphia

Why I wanted to make a change: “I listened to my doctor finally. Over the past years, my weight got out of control. I was focused more on events I was producing and work and less on taking care of myself. My doctor, Laura Oppenheim, gave me a prod. She mentioned the possibility of gastric bypass surgery, and I remembered my grandmother, a nurse who lived to be 101, always said ‘As long as they don’t cut you open!’ She was saying, Do whatever you can do to not have them cut you open. Basically, take care of yourself. I realized that in order to continue producing all these events and being involved in all of the things I am involved in, I have to be healthy.”

Height: 6’1″

Starting weight: 320

Current weight: 239

How long this transformation has been going on: “I’ve always been big. I grew up in the husky section of Sears. But there was an explosion of weight a decade ago or so. I peaked three or four years ago. And I lost some of the weight just naturally here and there, but I was still 275 in July, which is when I really started making this very conscious effort. Somebody said the ideal weight for my height is 160 pounds, which is just stupid. I’d look like skinny Santa Claus. I don’t have a goal number. That’s why this is easy. I’m not trying to lose five pounds. I’m not focused on numbers. If I had to put a number on it, sure, I could lose another 20 to 25 pounds, but I could never crack 200.”

What changed: “My energy level has increased, so now I’m able to do even more events. I have better clarity. And I don’t have a midday sugar crash. Just this past spring, I was making this decision to finally get rid of all my 2X clothes, because I was never going to fit in them again. I told my partner, John, that we needed to donate them all to Philly AIDS Thrift. But because I am so busy, I never got around to it. And now? I just donated three big boxes of 3X and 4X clothing instead.”

How I changed my eating: “I trimmed back on some carbs like pasta and chips — fortunately, I was never a huge sugar fan. I decided to pull back on those things and find things to add. Once I was past the initial hurdle — a week or so — the cravings started to dissipate, and I didn’t notice it as much. I filled it in with more fruits and greens. I’ve found that I like a lot of leafy greens, and I’ve fallen in love with spinach in salads and smoothies. John and I have both had fun discovering all of the vegan options out there. We are not vegan, but there’s so much good vegan food in Philly that tastes good, is quenching, and turns out to be healthy. I live a half block from Grindcore House, the vegan coffee shop, and we love having vegan breakfasts at The Tasty on 12th and Reed.”

“I’m not giving up sugar. I’m not going crazy. I’m just eating in moderation and walking a lot.

How I changed my exercise plan: “I realized I’m never going to be a gym person, so I never even bothered with that idea. I’m blessed enough to be able to walk, so I decided to just walk. I’d walk from my home in South Philly, part of the way to work in West Philly, and I’d grab the bus at some point. And I was able to walk further and further and eventually just walked all the way to work without even realizing it. The great thing about this is that it’s pretty public how much I love Philadelphia, and I’ve been able to rediscover so much of it by walking. I see the city in a whole new light. I throw headphones on and walk to the beat. I started out with a 114 BPM mix, but now that just feels like a stroll. So I now do a 120 to 123 BPM mix and walk to that beat. Very John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.”

The hardest part: “Me beating myself up that I took so long to do it. Nothing about this is that hard. I’m not starving myself. I’m not giving up sugar. I’m not going crazy. I’m just eating in moderation and walking a lot.”

What I’m proud of: “I’m proud of how inspiring it’s been to other people. I’m a public person. I’m out and about. People know me. A lot of people have written really touching personal notes of how inspirational I am for them. I’m not doing it to be inspirational, but that’s the biggest gift. That’s kinda cool.”

What I want everyone to know: “The secret to being healthy isn’t a fad. It’s exactly what doctors have always said: eating in moderation, some form of exercise or movement, and finding ways to reduce your stress. It’s not about quick loss.”

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