Inspiration • "I never really thought of myself as fat," Fintak said. "Guys don't get together and talk about their weight." But in 2011, Fintak said he and his son, Indy, went to North Carolina to see a friend, spending time at the ocean. There they took photos to mark the moment. "When they showed me the photos, I thought 'Hey, there's a strange fat man standing with my kid. That picture was my 'a ha' moment."
How he lost it • The 5'10'' Fintak, who at the time weighed 235 pounds, said he didn't want to join a program that required him to go to meetings. Instead, a friend suggested that he use the online tracking program offered through Weight Watchers, which allowed the single father to track food consumption and the calories burned on his cell phone.
Tracking was a big eye-opener. "I realized I was having meat at every meal," he said. "So I started cutting meat out altogether or limiting my portion size. I also started eating more fruits and vegetables. Now I'm particularly fond of brussels sprouts."
Beer was another obstacle "I'm quite a fan of it," he said. Rather than give it up, he scoured the nutrition labels until he ultimately found a brew "that I enjoyed the taste but that stayed within my point allowance."
Exercise • While Fintak had lifted weights for many years, he decided he needed more aerobic exercise. He started running after work on nearby trails and at parks. "I have never considered myself athletic, but running appealed to me because the harder you work, the better you did," Fintak said. "There was a correlation between effort and pay-off. When I started out, I ran horribly. I was lucky to make it 15 minutes at a slow pace. Now I can run a 6 1/2 minute mile. I run three or four times a week, about four miles each time."
Advice for others • "Admit to yourself that you want to lose weight. Then find a plan and tell others what you're doing, so they can help you be accountable," he said. "Realize that losing weight is a marathon, not a race, and that there's a long-term pay-off: That you'll feel better and look better."
The prize money • Some of it went toward new clothing in a smaller size. "I had put off buying clothes. Everything I wore was super baggy," he said. "And my son wanted his cut, he got himself a new iPod." But the bulk of the money went towards "a treadmill so I could do run indoors during the winter. I don't like the cold."