Healthier 2021: Mark's Fitness Fell Flat During Quarantine -- Now He's Making a Comeback

4 min read

2020 was a wild ride. And for many of us, healthy eating, exercise, and self-care habits went flying off the rails.

If you’re feeling ready to get back on track, we’re with you. Three WebMD team members are making big changes in the New Year, and they’ve offered to take us along for the ride. For the next few weeks, we’ll be following Laura as she ditches her sugar habit and jump-starts her fitness routine, and we’ll be rooting for our dynamic dieting duo, Bill and Mark, as they work hard to drop pounds and improve their health. Here’s to a healthier 2021!

By Mark Spoor

When I started at WebMD a bit more than 5 years ago, I was -- let's just say -- a bit off-brand.

I wasn't very active. I had spent the previous 12 months as a freelance writer and editor at home (where all my food is). Before that, I was in sports media, where they don't let you eat anything that isn't fried.

I was heavy and I knew it.

Since I wasn't feeling great, and I had just started a new job at WebMD, I thought it'd make sense to get a physical, something I hadn't done in years.

That appointment will forever be known as "my butt kicking."

I was the heaviest I had ever been (by a good bit) and, as a bonus, I had prediabetes. That first part was bad enough, but the second part scared me straight. After all, I have a wife and a now-teenage daughter. I needed energy. More than that, I'd needed to make sure that I was going to be around for them. So I had to get back on track right away.

I went headlong into fitness. I was in the gym in our office building every weekday morning at 7. I never missed. I was a slave to routine. I'd start with 20-30 minutes of elliptical work, then follow that up with some weights and some core work. I could do all of that, get a good sweat on, and still be at my desk by 8:30. I had no excuses. I cleaned up the diet, too. Very strict on weekdays and a bit more lax (but not crazy) on the weekends.

The work paid off. I was getting compliments at the office and at home, my numbers were going down, and I felt great. What's more, I was proud of myself for overcoming my health hurdles.

And then came COVID-19.

When we started working from home in March of 2020, we all thought it'd be for a week -- 2 weeks tops. So I really wasn't concerned that I'd get off track. I moved my workouts to the garage and went old-school: push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, planks, and some brisk walks around my neighborhood.

It all sounded good, but some important things were working against me. For one, I wasn't really getting the cardio workout I needed. The walks weren't enough, and I dislike running. Like, really dislike it.

Did I mention that I don't like to run?

What's worse, all my food was just a few steps away. Again, I thought it'd only be a week or two, so I thought a few snacks here and there wouldn't matter.

Before long, the snacks became a habit, and the workouts weren't as strong as they needed to be, so the numbers went back up. They aren't as high as they were. My "thin clothes" still fit (albeit a bit differently), but I can tell a change, so frustration and disappointment have set in.

Hence, I start Round 2.

For Christmas, my wife bought me an exercise bike and a Peloton membership. I've worked on them for about a week. The sweat is back, but the food is still there, as is the stress of needing to turn things around, to say nothing of the COVID stress.

I need accountability. That's where you guys -- and this weekly blog -- come in.

Each week, I'll share what's been going on in my journey of redemption. My friends Bill Kimm and Laura Downey will share their stories, too. In fact, as the weeks go on, you'll probably read Bill and I engaging in some friendly trash talking. We've been friends for years and it's just what guys do, particularly guys who worked in sports together.

One of the doctors here at WebMD, who's actually a weight loss specialist, is gonna give me some pointers along the way, too.

We'll all keep each other honest, and hopefully motivate you to take the journey with us.

Let's get after it!

Mark Spoor is a senior health editor with WebMD. He spent more than 2 decades in sports media, working with groups like the NCAA, NASCAR, and the PGA TOUR. Most weekends, you can find him and his wife, Chris, cheering on their daughter's softball team. 

While Mark has spent a lot of time with athletes, he's not one, so fitness has always been a bit of a challenge. He hopes this endeavor will help him get a little closer to winning that battle.

You can follow Mark on Twitter @markspoor.