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Walking led to climbing, stretching, better eating – and 113 fewer pounds

Michael May drove a delivery truck for many years before he landed a job 4½ years ago delivering the mail on the University at Buffalo South campus.

"Before that, I was doing a lot of sitting," said May, who at 5-foot-10 weighed 282 pounds at the time. "People would bring doughnuts in to work all the time. The weight creeps up."

May, 57, of the Town of Tonawanda, has put thousands of miles under his feet since he landed the new job but he credits his first UB Step Challenge as the engine for his greatest momentum.

He will undertake UB's third annual challenge starting next week – this time at 169 pounds.

May lost 90 of those 113 pounds during the last two years, fueled by a walking challenge open to all. The challenge runs from Sunday through April 30. Whole Foods is this year's sponsor. Individual participants and teams can log in their step counts for a chance to win prizes that include yoga mats and iPads. Register by Saturday at sphhp.buffalo.edu.

Q: How did the challenge push you to a different level?

A: It woke me up that I should keep going. Just because the walking challenge ended, don’t let it stop you.

Q: How long do you walk daily?

A: I try to get at least 15,000 steps. The most I got for a day last year was 35,000.

Q: How do you do that?

A: I just keep going. I do stairs. One of the places I deliver mail is Kimball Tower. It has 11 floors, so I might do the stairs two or three times before I leave. I do the track outside or second-floor inside at Alumni Arena on the North Campus after work. I’ve also got a treadmill in my basement.

Q: And you use it?

A: Yeah.

Q: What about other exercise?

A: I’ve learned a lot by watching the kids over at Alumni Arena. When I saw them run the stairs, I thought, “That’s a great idea,” so I started doing that. I started doing more pushups. I started doing planks and I think I’m going to start jump-roping, too. I just bought a vertical leg-raising machine to build abs. After losing all this weight, I wanted to see if I can do chin-ups. It goes up all the way to the ceiling in the living room. Maybe when it gets warm, I’ll put it in the garage.

Q: What about your diet?

A: I have a little protein in the morning and almost every day. It’s almost kind of a joke at UB, but I have steamed broccoli or steamed spinach with me every day. I grill chicken, cut it up and put it in separate bags, so the meal is always 5 or 6 ounces. I’m not as strict as I was before at home but I still try to watch it. You always keep an eye on the situation. You keep within 5 pounds of the weight you want.

Q: How has your overall health changed?

A: When they take my blood pressure, they’re like, “Wait, let me check that again." Sometimes it can be 92/59. I call the nurse to ask my doctor to see if that’s OK. She knows how much I’m working out and says, “That’s OK, those are an athlete's numbers.”

I’m trying to get more running in. Before, I used to have bad knees and now they’re getting a lot better. A long time ago, I used to ride a unicycle. I used to drive my daughter on my shoulders but I gained weight and didn’t practice, and then I couldn’t do it. Last fall, I thought, “Let me see.” I got back on it again. I got it! That’s cool. I want to get back on it again this spring.

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