One step at a time

Local man loses 117 pounds with daily walks

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Dale Rule walked to raise awareness for childhood obesity and MS. Rule weighed more than 350 pounds before he began walking a year and a half ago.

Every recovering drug, alcohol or food addict has hit a “rock bottom.” It is the place where they finally decide enough is enough, and it is time to take control of their lives.

For Dale Rule of Camas, it came in the form of a walk.

At 335 pounds, Rule knew he was obese and made poor food choices. But he didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until it took him 43 minutes to walk a mile.

“I was crying, my whole body ached and I was a mess,” he said. “I told my wife, ‘Let’s go home.’ But she told me we weren’t leaving. It was sad that at 37 years old, I couldn’t even walk a mile. That was my ‘ah ha’ moment.”

A year later, after 25 years of battling his weight, Rule had lost 117 pounds and could walk up to 17 miles at a time.

“I lost the weight without crazy diets, surgery or pills,” he said. “I continue to walk and lose weight to this day. Walking is an every day part of my life, not only for fitness but for my mental health as well.”

Even more surprising to some, he lost this weight while managing several Jack-in-the-Box restaurants, traveling frequently for work, and coaching high school football in the fall.

“I just decided to make different choices,” he said. “Before, I’d stop by one of the stores and think, ‘That looks good.’ Then I’d end up eating 3,000 calories. Then I’d see a Wendy’s while I was driving home, and swing through there as well.”

The stress of his job, lack of exercise and poor food choices caused Rule to top out at more than 350 pounds.

“I took a trip to San Diego with my wife and kids for work, and saw pictures afterward and thought, ‘Who is this fat guy? This isn’t me!'” Rule said.

He made some changes to his diet and stopped drinking soda. But then old habits crept back in, and his weight began inching up again.

While visiting with a colleague in the Seattle airport in January 2010, Rule noticed he had lost a great deal of weight and asked how he’d done it. The man talked about a device called “BodyBugg,” a personal calorie management system and pedometer, which is also used on the reality weight loss show, “The Biggest Loser.”

The BodyBugg system works by keeping an accurate daily record of calories consumed versus burned. It is typically worn on the arm or as a watch.

“As soon as I got home from Seattle I told my wife we were going to 24 Hour Fitness and buying two of those,” Rule said.

The next morning came the painful, 43 minute mile walk. But it didn’t stop Rule from getting up the next morning and doing it again.

“I started doing a mile in the morning and a mile at night,” Rule said. “After 10 days, I just took off and headed for downtown Camas from Prune Hill. I was gone for three hours and 15 minutes. It was hard, and it hurt, but after that I made the decision to do a minimum of four miles a day.”

At the same time, Rule decided to set his weight loss goal at 100 pounds in six months. He ended up losing 103 and weighing in at 232.

“I definitely enjoy food,” he said. “I just happen to enjoy it way more than the average person. But I got good at learning how to eat more food and stay within my calorie range.”

During his initial weight loss journey, Rule walked an average of seven to 10 miles a day for 160 out of 170 days. After a year, he’d lost 117 pounds.

At one point, Rule walked an average of 17.5 miles a day for 72 days in a row. However, a hip injury forced him to scale back his activity level for a while.

It was during this period that Rule began to ponder just how long he could walk.

“I wanted to do some type of benefit walk to raise awareness for childhood obesity and multiple sclerosis,” he said.

Rule’s wife of 15 years, Lyanna, has MS.

“She is such a trooper, and has a passion for trying to get people to stay active,” he said. “It’s actually one of the best ways to fight MS.”

After some deliberation, Rule, an assistant Camas High School football coach, decided to host his 24-hour walk at the track.

“I wanted it to be somewhere that was safe, where I had access to the bathroom,” he joked. “You don’t want to be looking for that at 2 a.m.”

During the event, Rule was joined by friends, family and community members.

“It’s been amazing,” he said Sunday afternoon. “I’ve walked with an older couple, my sons and wife. Some of my football players walked with me for six hours.”

All donations to the walk will be split evenly between Camas High School athletics and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Those who missed the walk but still want to donate can do so