JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- When Capt. Spencer Fodczuk was presented with an opportunity to change his life, he committed to the challenge. And he did not let up.

"When I make up my mind to do something you better watch out because I'm going to do it," Fodczuk said.

Nearly a year ago Fodczuk weighed in at 292 pounds. The 41-year-old tried to shed the pounds without any real structure, deadline or supplements. He was able to knock off 17 pounds but his back ailed him, he suffered shin splints and he had little energy.

Fodczuk weighed in at 275 pounds July 24 -- the first day of an 84-day health challenge he accepted from a commercial program. Following a strict routine and diet Fodczuk cut 52 pounds from his frame and weighed in at 223 pounds Oct. 15.

"I have way more energy and my back doesn't hurt me," he said. "I still have combat injuries but I pretty much feel like I'm 20 years old. I feel very much in control of my physical and emotional health. It wasn't just about losing weight, it was the journey of discipline."

For 84 days Fodczuk followed the same daily routine repeatedly purposely avoiding variety. He began each morning with a shake full of vitamins, whey protein and appetite suppressants. At work he drank an energy drink 15 minutes before he went to the gym. He focused 75 percent of his workouts on cardio, returned to work to eat lean meat and an apple. After work he took another energy drink.

"You have to decrease the pleasure you experience when you eat a meal and make sure you're eating something that is going to keep you full and do its job," Fodczuk said.

He found a satisfying dinner that he stuck with day in and day out in a chicken fajita.
He ate nothing after dinner. That's when the real battle began -- holding out until his morning shakes.

"That first month I'd say, 'I'm so hungry right now,' but I'd just drink water," Fodczuk said.
For 84 days he consumed nothing but water in the evenings.

Fodczuk quickly shed 22 pounds during the first month. By the second month he cut 11 more, but while the weight loss slowed down, his energy increased. Monday through Friday Fodczuk was at the gym, but he wanted to be more active during his weekend days off. He soon began bicycling two to three nights a week, as well as on the weekends.

Fitness trainer Susan Jackson and facility supervisor Jim Joseph of McVeigh Sports Fitness and Aquatics on Lewis Main, assisted Fodczuk during his final last two weeks of the 84 days. Jackson, a weightlifting competitor, helped Fodczuk prepare his body for show.

At the end of 84 days, Fodczuk submitted a before and after photo to Evolv Health. Out of 1,500 submissions, he was selected the winner of the weight loss challenge at a convention in Tulsa, Okla.

The health challenge started a new beginning for Fodczuk, who now has a renewed interest in experiencing an active lifestyle. Fodczuk bought hiking gear and is planning outdoor trips and also is preparing for the 202-mile Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic.

As the physician assistant nears 20 years served in the military, he is already planning his next venture in helping others achieve fitness goals.

"The last 20 years I've helped to treat a lot of disease," Fodczuk said. "The next 20 I want to help to prevent a lot of disease."

Somer Breeze-Hanson: