Get Up And Code 044: Eric Smith Loses 90 Pounds
In this episode of Get Up and CODE, I interview Eric Smith about his amazing weight loss of 90 pounds in just about a year.
He did all this without a super strict diet or exercise problem.
And in case you didn't know it, Eric happens to be the founder of CodeSmith.
Check out the episode below:
Full transcript below:
John: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to Get Up and Code. I am sitting here right now with Eric Smith who is the founder of CodeSmith. I actually used to use his software early when I was first starting around the ASP.NET creating DLLs. I'm glad to have Eric on the show. The reason why I really want to talk to Eric is I’ve been watching his Facebook updates and it’s just amazing, the weight loss, the transformation that he’s been able to do. He’s got a lot of inspirational type of messages that I thought this would be a pretty cool story to do on Get Up and Code here. Welcome to the show, Eric.
Eric: Thank you.
John: Why don’t you introduce yourself a little bit for our listeners?
Eric: Sure. My name is Eric Smith. I founded CodeSmith Tools and CodeSmith Generator. It’s been a little over 10 years ago now. I just recently started another company called Exceptionless which is an exception reporting product. I guess I'm 41 years old, married with 2 kids, and I’ve been a software developer for over 20 years now.
John: Oh, yeah.
Eric: That covers it.
John: Cool, awesome. Yeah. I'm actually a little bit interested before we get into the story, just a little bit more about your background with CodeSmith. How did you get started doing that and what was your story? Because I remember way back when when you first released it using that, and then now it’s grown quite a bit, right, since then?
Eric: Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, it’s been over 10 years ago now and it really just started as a side project. Actually, it started when I was working with another company and we build it out of necessity, out of the need for not wanting to do the boring, repetitive, mundane tasks that you can do sometimes, especially in the early days of .NET. There were a lot of things that really needed some automating.
We started that for the company I was working for. I ended up leaving that company and negotiated with them to get rights to sell it because they wanted to continue using the product. If they wanted me to keep working on it and making it that better then they probably want to do a _____[0:02:53]. I made a deal with them and started, and then I started selling it and eventually grew to the point where it’s covering my salary and so I decided I guess it’s time to make this a real business. That’s when I actually partnered with Rob Howard at that point from Telligent and started things up. It’s done really for over 10 years now so it’s pretty, pretty awesome.
John: That’s awesome. Cool. Just so the listeners out there might not be familiar with your products like maybe you can give them a description of what your main product does.
Eric: CodeSmith Generator is basically a template based code generation product. There’re a lot of parts in software that are really open for doing a lot of repetitive things so you can make templates for those parts of the app and just automate some of the software process and automate some of the more mundane tasks that you do as a software developer so that you can focus on the core issue of what the app is supposed to do versus some of the infrastructure code that you would have to write every single time.
John: Right, yeah.
Eric: Then the other product that we just started up, Exceptionless. Exceptionless.com is an error reporting tool that gathers—you install it in your app and it gathers all the exceptions that are happening in your app and organizes them in a way that makes it easy for you to see what you need to be working on. You can easily see what your top issues are. You can dig into those issues and find out all kinds of information. You could get all stack trace and any additional information like the request information. Pretty much anything that you want to add to the report, you can add easily. It makes it really easy to track down your errors and get your software working better and become exceptionless.
John: Okay, cool. I like it. I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but I’ve been wanting to. I saw that you open sourced it. That is pretty cool. Definitely, I have to check it out. Let’s get in to the fitness side of this. I wanted to go here first because you’re running a full company. You’re doing a lot of stuff. It’s hard to find time. Maybe we can start with what your story like at what point did you decide that you needed to do something to lose some weight? What was your motivation?
Eric: Throughout my life, a couple of times here and there I would lose a little bit of weight and end up gaining it back. Really, I'm just losing weight for the sake of losing weight. It’s never been very interesting to me. I'm a nerd and I like sitting in front of the computer. Doing those things is what I really enjoy so I really spend a lot of time doing that. That can be really hard because you’re spending so much time, especially in the technology world where things change so drastically every single day it seems like, trying to keep up with that stuff. It’s a big time commitment.
What really happened with me is that I started playing tennis. I got into it a little bit more and more, got a little bit better and it got a lot more fun. It’s hard to be competitive in a sport if you’re—at one point I weighed 304 pounds. It’s hard to get moving around and I’ve always really liked playing sports like that and I wanted to get better. I knew that I needed to do something about my overall health and conditioning.
That’s how it started because I played for a couple years and I was playing competitive like playing in leagues and in tournaments. I'm sitting deep because I couldn’t run. I just got sick of that and decided that, “Okay, enough is enough. I got to do something about this.” I'm a very competitive person. I want to win.
John: Right, yeah.
Eric: I was really seriously hampering myself by not being able to run. I actually ended up meeting a guy who’s a tennis pro at one of the clubs that I went to and he is really into nutrition. He really pushed me to basically stop making excuses. Stop just talking about things and get off my butt and start eating better, and exercising. It’s really that point about a year ago where I really started losing weight, because about a year ago I had one of those _____ [00:08:03]. When I got it a year ago, I was like 290. I know at one point I was 304, but I didn’t have a scale then so I don’t know exactly when that was, but it wasn’t that long before that. That is when I really started losing weight was about a year ago. I worked really hard, honestly, and eaten a lot better. It paid off. Imagine that.
John: Yeah. That’s awesome. You said you started at like somewhere around 300, 304 about a year ago, and then what are you at now?
Eric: I’m at 214 right now. I’ve lost 90 pounds.
John: Oh, wow. That’s amazing. That is huge. There’re a lot of people who listen that would like to lose that much weight in that amount of time.
Eric: Like I said, it’s one of those things where you basically know what you need to do, but in my case I needed some prodding, for somebody to really push me over the edge and get me started. I can definitely thank Allan is the guy’s name is Allan Odich. I can definitely thank him for pushing me, stop making excuses and started doing it.
John: Yeah, yeah. Actually, it just reminded me. There’s one thing I saw that you had posted on Facebook that I wanted to talk about because that was so cool. It’s just like last week you posted something about like how you messed up. I think it was a ski trip or something and you ate a bunch of junk and then like you gained some weight. Then you said that you’re going to get back on it and you’ll still hit your goal. To me, I was like “Wow. That is the key.” Now, I know why you are so successful because when I see that, I'm like, “Okay, this is the difference between the people that fail and never make it and the people that are successful, because the people who are successful are the ones that—they mess up but then their attitude is so go just like your attitude was. It was that, hey, it’s a mess up, but it doesn’t mean that it’s over. I'm going to get back on. If I have to retread my steps a little bit, big deal.” Maybe if you could talk a little bit about that, I thought that was really cool.
Eric: I’ve looked at different studies and stuff, but I truly believe that food can be an addiction. You could struggle with it. It’s like you can struggle with other drugs. I ate a lot of sweets when I was big. It seems like whenever I get out and fall off the wagon a little bit and start eating sweets I start struggling really bad. All these cravings come back and it’s just literally like all I can think about. It seems like sometimes it’s like I just want to go get something to eat and whatever.
It’s a hard struggle, but if I can just stay disciplined for a week or so it starts to go away again. I can just literally treat food as a thing. It’s a sustenance that I need to live. It doesn’t have to control my life. It doesn’t have to control my happiness. I think it’s just important just, if you feel the same way like if you feel like food is your addiction and you can’t be happy without it, you just need to try to be strong for like 2, 3 weeks and like the cravings will drop tremendously.
It’s definitely something I'm going to struggle with probably for a long time, but I know that I can control it. I’ve just got to do it. Every once in a while you fall off the wagon, but know that you can get back on and do it.
John: Yeah, yeah. That’s good. That’s really good. I have the same problem too. If I start going down that road I’ll just like, “Okay. Now, let’s go get bag of Sour Patch Kids,” whatever because I'm going down that road. Like you, I find myself. I come back and then I keep going. I think that’s the thing. It’s like so many people they think that someone who loses a lot of weight never falls off the wagon. They’re so good at getting back up, right?
Eric: Yeah. You just got to keep at it, especially when you start seeing the results. It makes it a lot easier. It’s just pretty much an endless stream of people at this point saying you don’t look the same which is fun. It’s really nice to see the results when they come. It seems like for the longest time, I was working so hard. I was playing tennis like 6 days a week and not really seeing a lot of results. It just seemed like it all happened all at once. You have to keep going and doing the things that you know that you need to do. Eventually, it’s going to all come together.
John: Right. Let’s dissect this down a little bit. How did you start? Diet wise, let’s start with diet. What did you do differently in order to start losing this weight?
Eric: I did a bunch of research online and I found a protein shake. First of all, I never used to eat breakfast at all which I know is a huge issue, right? I’d get super hungry in lunch time I’d gorge myself. Basically, what I used to do is eat 2 huge meals a day basically and then maybe a snack. I really didn’t eat snack that much. I decided okay, well, I’m going to start eating breakfast. I found a protein shake recipe that tastes very, very vaguely like a chocolate shake. I mean very vaguely. It’s not that bad.
I started taking that every day. I started taking vitamins everyday like multivitamins. Basically, what I try to do is during the week I take that for breakfast and then I’ll eat just something like turkey. A lot of times I’ll just roll it up and put like ketchup or something on it, and then just eat that by itself and some carrots and stuff like that. Then on a weekend, I’ll go out. A lot of times if I go out, I always try to make sure that I split a meal with my wife. Sometimes she doesn’t want what I want so we just try to do that as much as we can.
We started there and I just try to have as many good days in a row as possible. I know that I'm going to have bad days here and there and it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have a bad day. Sometimes you need it but sometimes it can set you back too when you have your bad days but you’ve just got to keep going.
John: You didn’t do any real tracking of calories. You just changed things or did you track calories?
Eric: Yeah. I forgot what the app name is called. MyFitnessPal I believe.
John: Oh, okay. Yeah.
Eric: I used that a little bit. I don’t use it on a daily basis as a diary of food that I’m eating. I just use it to know what these things that I'm eating, how bad are they, and what better choices can I make. I’ll look things up before I eat them and try to figure out, okay, how much do I really like this thing? Is it worth the calories that are in it or the fat?
John: Yeah, okay. That makes sense. If you’re being conscious of the decision, this is one of the key things. I know like Starbucks started putting their calorie counts on their menus now, right? I’d go into Starbucks, most of the time I would just order a regular coffee or something, but sometimes I’d order a brownie or a mocha or something like that, right? Now, I don’t. I don’t even go into Starbucks now because now I see the calorie counts, I'm like, “Wow, a muffin is 600 calories, seriously? There’s no way.” Like right now, for example, I'm on like an 1800-calorie-per-day diet and I'm like I'm not going to eat half of my calories almost for five bite things.
Eric: I used to get a caramel frappuccino and then I looked that up one day and I think it’s like 550 calories or something. I did figure out though that you can get a light caramel frappuccino which is like 180 calories. Now, I just get that every once in awhile. I would look at the banana bread which was another favorite of mine and it’s like another 500 calories.
John: Oh, yeah.
Eric: Like for a slice of banana bread, wow, okay.
John: Do they just pour butter in there or something? I can’t figure it out. That’s cool. That’s interesting, your approach. Definitely, you’re just being conscious of the calorie counts. I like that tip. I do that as well, splitting an entrée with my wife because if you go to a restaurant it’s more food than you need. If it’s there you’re going to eat it, but if you split it then you’re making a good decision ahead of time.
Eric: I'm a low maintenance kind of guy like I don’t want stuff that I’m just going to add burden. I'm going to use that as a tool to go and look and try to make better choices for myself. I don’t really want to have to sit there and log everything every single day. I'm like that in the software world too. I like to find the lightest process as possible and focus on the actual task at hand, which is writing good software or losing weight versus these processes. I'm sure they’re good for some people, but I just like to keep the burden as light as possible, you know what I mean?
John: Yeah, yeah. Well, I find too like a lot of people start out with their diet and they track the things. After a couple of weeks, you know like you know when you’re above or below, or what you’re supposed to be at. Some people can’t do that because they just lie to themselves all the time, but if you can that definitely makes it easier. That’s how I operate. I actually just set two kinds of diets like I know what I'm eating each day. I just eat the same foods so then I don’t have to guess.
That’s the diet side. What else did you do? Did you do anything on the fitness side besides the tennis? Did you add like any other activities or weightlifting, or anything like that?
Eric: I used a resistance band and I did just different like arm exercises and sometimes I’ll do a yoga ball and do core fitness exercises. I don’t really do it on a regular basis. Actually, I do the band thing everyday but like the yoga thing, I guess I really might do that like once or twice a week. I know I need to do it more, but it’s one of those things where before I lose weight I go to the gym every single day. It would only last like 3 months because it’s not really something I enjoy. You end up stopping and then you feel like a failure and it all goes downhill from there versus if you find a sport that you love to play in a way that you can have fun while you’re exercising, it’s so much easier to keep going. Sometimes you get down times here and there, but because the thing that you’re doing is so much fun, you get right back and do it again.
John: Oh, yeah, yeah. That definitely makes sense.
Eric: For me that’s better. That’s the key.
John: It’s neat. I like your story because it sounds like what you’ve done is—like a lot of people go on these crash diets or like you said go to the gym every day and then they drop off quickly. You’ve been able to do this for a year because it sounds like you’ve really incorporated it into your life. You’ve made lifestyle changes, which is what I always recommend people do. You’re not on a diet. You’re not on a fitness program. You just have made small changes to your life with your diet and your exercise that accumulated over time over a year. It wasn’t anything drastic.
Eric: Yeah. I think you got to do something that’s sustainable for sure. People just go crazy and then they can’t keep it up. I'm trying to be reasonable with things. I always try to eat good for a certain number of days in a row and then I might have something bad but it’s okay. I’ll just move on. It’s the same thing with exercising. Most days I'm exercising 6 times a week. If I don’t then it’s fine. I'm doing things that I enjoy. To me, that’s why I think it’s sustainable. I'm still only a year in so I got to keep it going hopefully. I’ve had issues in my life where I lost much weight and gained it back. I'm going to really try to make sure that this is the lifestyle change and not something that is not sustainable.
John: Right, right. I guess that’s a good question too is what’s different this time? What’s the key difference? You referred a couple of times that you’ve lost weight before. I did that before too myself. I'm real curious to hear your answer on this.
Eric: Yeah. Before I was doing the gym and trying to eat. I didn’t enjoy it. It wasn’t sustainable and I just got burned out. Even though I was doing it with friends, I mean it’s fun to go to a gym with a friend for a while and all of a sudden it gets to be a really big chore. To me, the key 100% is you’ve got to find something that you love to do and do that. For me, that is tennis. I love to play tennis. I want to get better at tennis. It’s easy for me to sustain that.
John: Okay, awesome. If someone wants to lose weight like based on now your experience, what kind of steps would you tell them? What kind of advice would you give them to get started on this track like if they don’t think that they can do it and then also what kind of difficulties are they going to face?
Eric: I think anybody who is having a problem with foods to the point where I was where I I literally feel like it’s an addiction I think they’re going to have a hard time getting started. I think like what you need to do is like cut the sweets out and switch them out for other things like for fruits and natural things. Switch them out and maybe eat some nuts. I eat almonds a lot and that really helps cravings. Try to make smarter choices and don’t call it a diet. Just try to make smarter choices. It doesn’t have to be some strict plan, but if you can just consistently make smarter choices in your life then it’s going to help and it’s going to pay off.
Eric: Definitely try to find that thing that you love to do and do that. You combine those with two things and you’re going to do great.
John: How do you get through those tough times when you hit the times where you’re done with this, you don’t feel like you just want to go and order pizza, or whatever it is?
Eric: Well, I’ve done a lot of those here and there, but you just have to know, okay, well, I had much fun now let’s have4 good days in a row. You have a bad day and you do something crazy, and you feel horrible about it afterwards. Now have 4 good days in a row. Just get that done and know that it’s a process that takes a long time. You didn’t get overweight in a year or even probably 5 years. It’s probably doing something that’s been going on for a long time in your life. Just take the long approach and know that you will get there eventually as long as you’re making better choices every day.
John: What’s your goal? Have you reached it or are you still going on this …?
Eric: I set little goals here and there, but mostly I want to just live a better lifestyle. I think along the way I'm going to find out where I'm supposed to be just because if I keep eating good and exercising I'm going to keep losing weight and get to the point where I'm supposed to be, and then I’ll stop. I'm not really setting goals although like I said, I have set little goals here and there. This goal that I set recently is for 214 pounds is because 214 pounds is the threshold for your BMI to be considered obese versus just overweight. My goal is to just be—the joke is I just want to be fat. I don’t want to be obese. I posted on Facebook that I'm finally fat. I’ve been trying to be fat my whole life and I finally … it’s kind of a joke. That was the goal and it was a fun goal to reach. There’re little milestones along the way like, I guess the next thing would be being 209. That will be nice. Single digit is over, I mean over 200, just little attainable goals versus, saying, “I want to lose 50 pounds,” or something.
John: Yeah. That’s a real powerful concept. At one point, I was around like 300 pounds and I dropped all the way down to like 189 or so within about a year and a quarter, a year and a half. It was like every 2 weeks I just need to lose 5 pounds. I was only looking forward 2 weeks in the future and that really helped me to stay motivated, because I was like, “I did it last week. I could do that this week,” or every 2 weeks.
Eric: That’s awesome. Very cool. What do you weigh now?
John: I'm at like about 230 right now. When I lost my weight then I gained muscle, some kind of lifting now, I'm trying to gain. Now, I'm trying to cut back. I’d like to get back to 220. I gained and then I lose trying to build muscle, and then get cut. I cycle back and forth. Now, I'm doing it consciously as opposed to before when I was doing it as a yoyo like diet effect.
Eric: Cool. That’s awesome. Congratulations to you too.
John: Thanks, thanks. It’s been great. I’ve been definitely wanting to get you on the show because I think your story will motivate a lot of people. It’s really cool to hear someone that’s been so successful, and I really like the fact that you’ve just made these lifestyle changes that sounds like a maintainable thing. It’s one thing like, “Oh, I cut all carbs out and I ate 300 calories a day.” Yeah, but that’s not going to last, right?
Eric: You’ll burn out real quick. Cool.
John: Well, thanks again. Everyone, you can check out Get Up and Code, the website. If you just go to getupandcode.com and you could check out Eric’s products, CodeSmith and Exceptionless, right?
Eric: Yep, codesmithtools.com and exceptionless.com.
John: Let me finish up with our sponsor. Signalleaf.com sponsors our podcast. If you’re looking to start your own podcast go check out signalleaf.com. They make it really easy for you to get started with a podcast. There are a lot of tutorials on there to get started and they have pretty affordable hosting plans. Thanks again, Eric, and we’ll talk to everyone next time. Take care.