Trading up addictions: How Casey Carnes swapped mega meals for miles & lost 188 pounds in the process
Casey Carnes had always been a bigger guy.
His “Big Guy” moniker eventually morphed into the ironic when he started playing football in high school and his teammates nicknamed him “Skinny.” The name stuck with him into freshman year of college football where he tipped the scale at 325 pounds.
“After a series of bad choices and injuries, my football career came to an end…my unhealthy eating habits continued,” Casey said, adding his weight eventually crept past 350 pounds.
He began seeing his weight and physical shape as something other people had a problem with and began blaming food manufacturers and advertisers for his weight gain.
“Since I accepted that, I had also accepted that I had no control over my life.”
Depression ensued and by the time he reached 386 pounds, Casey had so much joint and back pain that he had to crawl to his bathroom from his bed.
“That was the last straw,” Casey says.
Once he accepted responsibility, not only for his weight but in all aspects of his life, Casey says he began researching and finding inspirational stories of others who had successfully lost massive amounts of weight.
That motivation translated to miles walked. Those miles translated to pounds lost.
Food was no longer a way to cope, but instead became a source of fuel for his daily exercise – which, for the most part, was a lot of walking.
“I concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other,” he says, “figuratively and literally.”
By the first month, he had lost 35 pounds.
“As you can imagine, this was very motivating,” Casey says. “That motivation translated to miles walked. Those miles translated to pounds lost. Those pounds lost translated to a shrinking waist.”
Casey made it his goal to reach the 10,000 steps alarm on his Fitbit at least five times a week, but soon realized he was starting to burn through his shoes as fast as his miles.
“I went to the only shoe store in Greenfield, Indiana that had quality running shoes and asked the guy, ‘Do you have a running shoe that can support my big ass?’”
The Foot Remedy employee fitted the good-humored Casey with the Brooks Beast, which he kept through the majority of his weight-loss journey.
That journey included a weight loss of 186 pounds in one year.
Within that time, Casey re-discovered running.
“Because I played football in high school and a bit in college, I was familiar with it but it was always sprints and the farthest distance was a half mile.”
To prepare for his first race, the Indianapolis Drumstick Dash, Casey needed new shoes. This time he was fitted with the Brooks Addiction.
On Nov. 26—approximately one year after he struggled to move from his bed to his bathroom—Casey finished the 4.5-mile loop in just over 46 minutes.
The accomplishment has translated to other areas of his life, including his job as a Skills Development Trainer, which helps adults with severe mental illnesses accomplish basic life skills such as budgeting and maintaining a clean apartment.
“We work with people who are not only facing mental challenges, but physical issues, as well. I couldn’t educate someone who is morbidly obese on ways to be healthy,” Casey says. “I would have felt like a hypocrite.”
Casey has inspired others, including friend and fellow “big guy” Terry Mitchell.
“When I look at him and envision the Casey I knew in college, I know that I can accomplish my goal because he’s accomplished his,” says Terry, who’s already lost about 20 pounds, himself. “That keeps me going.”
The two are signed up to run the Indianapolis Mini Marathon on May 7. The 13.1 mile race will be the farthest distance either has run, but they’re preparing by following a 10-week program.
“Running is becoming less of a workout with me,” Casey says. “It’s my coping skill. It’s how I deal with the stresses of life. I was on the treadmill yesterday and thought, ‘What’s another 1.5 miles to run?’ And ended up running 7 miles when I only set out to do 5 1/2.”
So what’s on the horizon for Casey?
“My dad was stationed in Germany in 1984 and ran the first Munich Marathon,” Casey explains. “He said he got to mile 22 or 23 and had to drop out. He wasn’t able to finish. Whether it’s realistic or not, I think it would be cool to run it and complete it.”
For a man who’s lost nearly half his weight, that dream seems pretty realistic to us.
Casey hopes to inspire others with his journey. To connect, visit his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/halfofcasey/