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Success story: Taking a hike can help cut your cancer risk

Damien BaylissPosted by Melissa

It was the end of financial year in 2010 which saw Melbourne-based Finance Manager, Damien Bayliss, look at more than just his tax return.

The then 34-year-old says seeing photos of himself, and feeling unhealthy and tired all the time, he realised his weight had become an issue.

And though he spent many hours looking at figures on spread sheets, he hadn't looked at his own stats – particularly his weight – until one fateful morning when he saw he was almost 120 kilograms.

Damien says when he jumped on the scales one morning he realised his weight had ballooned – from around 90kgs to 119 kilograms over a few years.

He says it was poor diet and no exercise which had caused his weight to rise.

"I had been working long hours, late into the night and because I was tired I was having junk food for dinner like Hungry Jack's and pizza," he said. "It was also a lack of exercise – I used to go to the gym but I stopped doing that too which made me put on all that weight."

When he stepped on the scales and saw the three digit number, he knew it was time to make some changes.

"I signed up to the gym again straight away – but I didn't really diet when I started," he says.

"I went to the gym about 3–4 times a week and all of a sudden I dropped about 10 kilograms," Damien says.

Wanting to lose more, Damien says he started looking for other ways to get healthy and have fun all at the same time.

So in 2011, he took up hiking, starting with short walks around the You Yangs near Werribee, before moving on to longer walks with a friend who is also a keen hiker.

Despite losing more weight through hiking, and dropping to 100 kilograms, Damian said he couldn't "crack" the 100 kilogram barrier and lose more.

"One day I was talking to a mate who was a chef. He was a professional in the healthy eating area and gave me advice on how to have a healthy brekkie and snacks.

"He told me to stay away from the battered food and deep fried stuff and replace them with salad wraps and (vegetable) soup – lighter meals."

With his change in diet, Damien lost another 12 kilograms, taking him to a slender, healthy 88 kilograms.

Damien says it wasn't just the numbers on the scale which motivated him to stay healthy, but the fact he was feeling so much healthier and more energetic.

"I was thinking long term," Damien said. "I'm now 36, and if I'm unhealthy now, what will I be like when I'm 60 or 70?"

"I did think about the risk of heart disease and cancer and just wanted to make sure I was healthy," he says.

Though he has achieved his goal in losing the weight he had gained, plus a little bit more, Damien says he was thrilled this year when he achieved his other goal – hiking the trail at Mt Feathertop – a gruelling 24 kilometre hike which took seven hours.

"One of the benefits of being healthier is that I can do things like that now," he says.

His one piece of advice for anyone wanting to lose weight, apart from changing to a healthy diet, is to find something active that you love to do.

"Don't do it because you have to, do it because you enjoy it," he says, "and find someone to do it with who can motivate you too."

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