Adam Ladwig’s Weight Loss Journey

Adam Shares The Story Of How He Lost More Than 100 Pounds


You may have noticed I’ve lost quite a bit of weight. A little more than 100 pounds, actually.

People ask me a lot how do you lose so much weight?

My answer is always, “get really fat first”.

That’s what I did!

I wouldn’t recommend it. But here’s how I finally realized the path I was heading down, got my act together, and worked on a better life for myself.

This is my routine now. Nearly every day after work, I head to the gym to blow off some steam and build some muscle.

But my new life is still pretty new to me.

For most of my life I did everything I could to avoid being healthy.

I ate everything in front of me.

Don’t believe me? Just ask my parents.

“You liked to eat your pizza,” explains my mom, Diana Sloan-Ladwig. “We used to joke that when you were a baby we’d put pizza sauce in your baby bottles.”

My dad, Phil Ladwig, adds, “Your appetite started when you were months old. ”

It was obvious to them there was a problem early on. I didn’t exercise, unless I was forced to.

My mom says, “We enrolled you in karate when you were four because you were heavier than you should be and we thought you needed to get some exercise.”

At least I enjoyed the screaming.

Until recently, even when I tried to exercise, I sucked at it.

But they were right. I was not healthy. I just didn’t listen.

“You were a kid,” my dad points out. “You can’t tell kids anything. They have to learn it on their own, which you did.”

Problems were creeping up. I broke into a sweat just sitting down. I had high blood pressure. My knee was messed up from carrying my weight. I was about 360 pounds. Even for 6’6″, that wasn’t good. So about a year and a half ago I took that first terrifying step. I went to the doctor.

It wasn’t easy.

Nurse Practitioner Joe Halvorson with Essentia Health tells me what it was like that first time I walked into his office.

He says, “Personal part of you, which was nervous, kind of curious, worried about what might be going on health-wise.”

I was there. I had to get over the nerves and make my visit worth it.

For Halvorson, the next step was “asking questions about where you want to go from here. What are you most worried about? What are you hoping for?”

I found out some things about my body and made some changes right then. We hatched a plan to get my most pressing health issues under control.
Then he sent me to nutritionist Jennifer Bednar for more guidance, where I learned it’s not good to eat an entire pizza in one sitting. I genuinely needed to hear that.

She explains, “What we worked on was portion control, not eliminating any foods but looking at smaller portions, eating more throughout the day and working on adding more protein to your meals.”

I’ve made drastic changes to my diet but I’m still really lazy. Here are a few of the things I rely on to eat a little healthier.

I eat a lot of simple spinach salads that I throw together in minutes.

For snacks, string cheese and protein bars are quick and filling.

For dinner, I love frozen vegetables. Frozen Healthy Choice bowls and riced cauliflower are easy to fix up.

And I still have a sweet tooth. That’s when I reach for sugar-free popsicles. I might be addicted to them.

It took a bit to get used to my new diet, but now I can eat like this without thinking.

Bednar explains that, “Usually within a couple weeks or a month, people are getting more tolerant to it, more used to it, and it becomes easier from there.”

Food still is the hardest part about losing weight for me. What shocked me is how easily I took to working out.

In fact, my trainer, Ryan Parr, thinks I may be too into it.

“He was really eager,” Parr explains. “Always willing to give his all. But in the beginning what it took sometimes was slowing down but actually have to think about things a little bit more and take his time.”

Ryan basically keeps me from killing myself at the gym, showing me the right way to exercise. I’m not always great at it.

But I keep going. That’s the hard part: staying motivated.

“It comes and goes with your mood as well,” Parr adds.

It took me a while to get into this fitness thing, and progress doesn’t come overnight.

But changing up my fitness routine helps keep me motivated and interested. I do a different class every day, whether it’s weights, full-body or intervals, and I branch out with things like yoga and even running. I did a 5k last year! That’s still a weird thing for me to say. It’s weird for my parents to see.

My dad chimes in, saying, “Not in my wildest dreams.”

My mom helpfully adds, “You never were a runner.”


Just after finishing my first 5k.


Like eating healthy until it’s second nature, I made fitness a simple fact of life. That makes it much harder to avoid.

“What you really want is to make it something you do and not a decision you make,” says Parr. “You’re going to the gym at this time and this day. You’re not deciding whether you want to or not.”

Having structure is huge for me. That accountability can make the difference between grabbing a burger or a salad, and lounging at home or going to the gym. My support team likes to tell me they’re not a huge part of my transformation.

“We provide the tools for you but it’s what you do with them that makes the difference,” says Bednar.

For me, they are a huge part. But having someone join you in that journey to health can also make it more fun.

For instance, my friend, Dawn Kossick. I met her right when I started going to the gym. She won’t let me forget those times.

She says, “Adam couldn’t do a pushup. Adam couldn’t do a pushup from his knees. Adam couldn’t lift as much weight as I could.”

But we became fast friends, and we help push each other.

She explains, “When one of us isn’t at the gym one day the other one asks ‘Where were you? What were you doing’?”

We try new things together. Cycle class. Trampoline boxing.  Heck, sometimes we just hang out and get coffee on the weekends. Our friendship is an unexpected perk of discovering fitness.
Even though that one time we had to clarify that we are just *friends*.


Cycle class with Dawn and my friend/co-worker/cycle instructor Patrick.

Boxing…with bouncing!


Dawn says, “We were standing and somebody came up to us and were like ‘Are you two like…uh…’ and then stopped. I had to clarify very much so that I’ve been married for 25 years and I’m 21 years older.”

Speaking of perks, now I’m enjoying the perks of nearly a year and a half of hard work.

I’ve lost north of 100 pounds. Clothes that used to fit me now look like circus tents.

And now, I’m doing crazy things like training for my first 10k race later this month.

Instead of trying to avoid exercise I’m setting new goals and working even more. That’s a surprise to both me AND my parents.

My mom adds, “I expected you to make some changes to your diet but I didn’t expect you to go whole hog into going to the gym every day, losing over 100 pounds.”

“What you did was amazing”, says my dad. “Not a lot of people can do that.”

Aww, thanks guys.

Dawn adds, “Adam came a long way.”

A long way both physically and mentally.

“I can tell you have more confidence in yourself and you look like you’re feeling better,” says Bednar. “Your energy’s good. You can definitely see changes.”

Ok, that’s enough about me. Because one thing I firmly believe after losing 100 pounds is that anyone can make a huge change.You just need to believe in yourself.

“You gotta start from a place of hope,” but Halvorson warns, “I’ll often say that hope is not a plan.”

Then don’t be afraid to ask for help.

“Jump,” recommends Parr. “Just jump out there. You’ve got to take a little bit of a risk.”

At one point I didn’t believe in myself. But with support and a plan I turned my life around and hopefully showing others there is a path to self-improvement when you think there isn’t one.

I can’t stress this enough. I hope my story helps show that you can make a big change even if you didn’t think you could.

Here’s how I did it. It’ll be different for everyone, but you have to put yourself out there and give it a go.

Also, I want to give a shout-out to our chief photographer, Patrick Conteh. He did an amazing job filming the story, and he also is the guy who got me into cycling, which has been a huge part of my cardio routine.

Hot yoga almost killed me, but it was definitely worth it.

Before and after. I still can’t get over the change.

Categories: Local News, Morning – Features