Daniel Harper

Octane Orange Team

Hello, my name is Dan Harper, I'm 40 years old. I have been married to my high school sweetheart Jessica for 17 years. We have two beautiful daughters, Lauren is 11 and Payton is 7.  I have been employed by Tower Automotive in Auburn IN for 21 years. I've served in various roles, my current job is Tool and Die Engineer. I work with some amazing people that have been very supportive of my efforts with the Smallest Winner.  In my free time, I enjoy playing golf with my dad and traveling with my family. Jessica and I started cruising the Caribbean before we had kids and now enjoy passing the travel bug on to our girls. 

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Hoky crap, I ran a half marathon today! Actually, I went 13.27 miles, but we won't split hairs.  Anyway, it was hard, physically and mentally. I was confident I could do it, never a doubt. 

I started off well, felt great through 5 miles. Then, the body aches and pains started. I was able to adjust my stride and posture to help with the pain but it didn't go away. Through 8 miles and it's really starting to bother me. I had a decision to make, push through or quit. Quit? Hell no. The trainers, dietitians, and running coaches never quit on me, how could I quit on them?

So, I put my head down, stopped looking at my watch to see how much I had to go and got back to work. I started picking up my walking pace then got back to a run. It was hard, it hurt, I didn't care. There was zero possibility that I was arriving at the finish line in a car. I'm not doing the walk of shame.  

By mile 11, I was determined to finish and finish strong. I passed several people and headed to the finish line. I started my kick too early, I didn't have enough left to run that fast for that long. I slowed down by t I refused to stop. I crossed the finish line and about collapsed. My tank was completely empty. I have no idea what my time was and I don't care to know. I left everything I had out on that race course today. No regrets about anything. I'll never look back and think I could of done more. I'm proud of myself because I know I did it. I worked my ass off from 311 lbs and not running at all to 240 and running more than 10 miles and finishing a half marathon, all in 14 weeks.

Think about it, 70 lbs and being 1000% more fit on top of that! People I work with cannot believe the change. I finally wore an outfit to work Friday that fit me and people were amazed. I've shied away from buying new clothes because I know I'm not done losing yet but it was nice to wear something to show off my hard work.

I could list all the people that I am thankful for but I'm not going to do that, I think it's a bit of a disservice. I just want to thank Fort Wayne's Smallest Winner. In my opinion, it's much bigger than one person. Yes, some people give more time and effort etc but it would fail to be the program it is without EVERYBODY pitching in to make it what it is. 

This program is simply amazing. It's so well organized, the Smallest of details are not forgotten. I mean really, they not only gave us a physical change, they gave us a damn makeover! I mean, who thinks of that? This isn't a weight loss program, it gives the contestants a new identity. Overweight people (myself included) often blend in to the background not only in social situations but professionally as well. We don't want attention and will usually do everything we can to avoid attention. Smallest Winner changes that. The program makes us feel like we matter. It makes us feel like we deserve attention. 

I can say this, Smallest Winner has made me a new person and I like that person. For once in my life, I don't feel like I want somebody else's life. I am proud of who I am and my whole family benefits from that.  

Thank you Smallest Winner!

PS- I apologize if this post is full of misspellings and grammar errors, I was on a roll (like when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor). I'm not going back to proof read what I have written because it's all raw emotion, I don't want to second guess or correct any of that. Oh, and by the way, if you think that I think the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, you need to pop some popcorn and watch Animal House. You'll  thank me later. 


We started off the week by going to Eddie Merlot on Monday night for dinner. AMAZING. The staff, the food, the atmosphere, and most of all the company was all wonderful.


I feel like I'm losing a lot of inches off my body the last few weeks. I guess maybe it's because I weigh less but I'm still having the same amount of weight loss as I did when I was much heavier. I'm down to 244 now, 67 pounds lost. My goal at the beginning of the program was to get to 235 during the program and 200 eventually. I know I can get to 235, maybe less, in these last few weigh ins. It's exciting. I've actually had people tell me I shouldn't lose any more because I'll be too skinny. Too skinny is like too rich....it's not possible. I'll keep my nutrition on track and keep working out and the weight will take care of itself.


It's funny actually, this is a weight loss program and I haven't felt like I'm trying to lose weight. Losing weight is hard, this program is easy. Just do what you're told and everything takes care of itself. Easy. It's all laid out for me.

I hear a lot of people say we are getting close to the end. I don't think that is true. I think we are getting close to the beginning. If we see it as the end, we are going to go back to doing the things we did to make us fat. We are at the beginning of living for ourselves. At the beginning of managing what we eat and our own exercise. You don't like the workout? Well, here is your chance to create your own workout. Don't like what your nutritionist tells you to eat? Here is your chance to make your own decision. The beginning, not the end.


From Fat Ass to Bad Ass! 



Week 12 brought some some exciting news, I lost 9.2 lbs and rand 10 miles! Who would of ever thought! Just think about that for a second....how many people could say they lost 9 lbs and ran 10 miles all in the same week! Sometimes I amaze myself!

we are closing in on the end of the program and I don't feel like I am missing any foods.  I'm not missing soft drinks, chips, fried food, or fast food.  I know how many calories are in everything I eat without looking it up. I know what I can eat and what I can't. It's funny actually because people think when you go on a diet, you can't eat "good" food. In reality, I'm eating much more high quality food now.  

I had some pain yesterday after the first 6 miles with a pain in both of my feet. Tina had me stop running so I kept up the pace with walking. I even passed several people who were walking. I was concerned during the run that I may have an injury but the pain went away pretty quickly after the run. I don't think I'm hurt, I think I weigh 250 lbs and tried to run 10 miles, my body was like "what the hell are you doing!" I'll be ok. With all due respect to Tina and the coaches, there is zero chance they are keeping me from running this half marathon. I don't care if an ambulance is following me around and I'm crawling on my hands and knees. I'm doing this! I'm making that race my bitch!




week 11 is in the books and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Tina sent out an email this week highlighting events at the end of the program.  It's a little bittersweet.  

On one hand, the end is exciting but yet I know I'll miss the program as well.


We had 9 miles yesterday. We did 6.2 run and 2.8 walk with the Vision Walk. I have to say, I think it was a big deal for all of us to go to the Vision Walk.  Sometimes giving to charity doesn't have a face. It was touching to see the people effected by eye disease. 


I'm working ro finish strong with a good weigh in this week.  



Rough weigh-in this week. Gained 2lbs, not good. I let myself down. Back to work this week, doing extra credit, watching my food, drinking my water. Running the Germanfest 5k tonight. My last 5k was 46:00, my goal is 40:00 tonight. It will be tough but not impossible.



We just finished week 10 and I'm having mixed feelings about how I am doing. I feel like I've met my "goal" that Rick and Tina set for each contestant but I also feel like I have a long way to go before I meet my personal goal. On one hand, it feels great to know that I have met the base expectations of the program but on the other hand I wish they wouldn't set the goal at 50lbs, I wish it was much higher. I understand this is just a base line but there's also part of me that feels like I'm finished. That's not a good thing to feel with 4 weeks to go.

I need to keep pushing myself to lose everything I can lose before July 8. I know I will continue to lose after July 8 but I won't have all the support and accountability that I have now.

I was able to finish my 8 mile run Saturday and I finished strong, I can't help but feel like I could have gone another mile (or more). I didn't feel dead after I had a little time to recover, I was able to work around the house the rest of the day without any pain or soreness. We did 7/3 this week during our runs. I told my wife that 9 weeks ago, I couldn't even chew Doritos for 7 minutes without being tired. So, I guess I'm getting stronger!

Bring on week 11!


week 9 in the books and I'm feeling good.  I'll admit, I hit a low spot the last few weeks, haven't felt great about my losses. 

This week I decided to get back to what worked for me in the beginning.  I talked with Jen and she moved me up 200 calories a day and I'm making sure I use every one of those calories.  I did extra credit all week and started exercising at my lunch time. 

I spent about 5 or 6 weeks in first place but it didn't really matter to me as much as it seems to matter to other people. This program isn't about "winning" to me. This program is about losing the most weight I can lose. I don't feel like I've lost as much the last few weeks as I could so hopefully that changes over the next few weeks.  My goal for loss was 90 when we started, it going to Ben tough to get there now. I've lost 50 so far, hopefully I keep up the big losses.




This is the week it happened, I'm in Rick's "box."  I've heard him talk each week about his stupid box but I was hoping I could avoid it but I didn't.  I only lost 2 pounds at the weigh in Monday night. It was especially tough because I missed losing my 40 and it would of taken me under 270 for the first time in 8 years.  Sad.  On top of that, I fell out of first place for the first time since week 2.

After the initial shock wore off, I decided I needed to get back to logging more religiously. I made sure I logged all my water and all my food. I was doing fine with my food but I wasn't tracking my water, I may not of been drinking as much as I should have.

By Wednesday, I felt like I was back on track and headed in the right direction.  I feel like I'm losing weight again.  I am now totally out of pants that fit and I refuse to buy new ones because I know I'll lose more over the next 8 weeks. It's a mental thing for me. I'm not sastified with the size I am so I'm not going to reward myself with new clothes. I did the next best thing, I bought a smaller belt!

As for the workouts, I've decided that I'm going to try to make the runs on Wednesday night instead of Thursday. The Y is much closer to home for me so I do Thursday but the pool is a real struggle for me on Thursday morning and my legs were totally dead Thursday night at the run.  I think moving my run to Wednesday night will help. Other than that, it was a great week. I felt great Saturday morning after setting a new PR for 6 miles (I've never gone 6 miles so any time would of been a PR, I'll take it). 

During the run Saturday, I was doing a lot of thinking about all the contestants and the sacrifice we are making but I also spent a lot of time thinking about the families supporting all of us. I know for me, my wife Jessica, makes this all happen for me. She gets the kids on the bus in the morning, picks them up in the afternoon, has dinner for me when I get home, makes sure I have clean clothes, and keeps the house in order.  All the while, she is squeezing in her own workouts and following the eating plan on her own. I am most proud that she has lost 20 lbs and only missed 1 Saturday run (she was in Florida). She's never been a person to exercise but she's doing it and actually starting to enjoy it. Simply put, I would be a worthless blob of nothingness without her!



Week 5 is in the books, 30% done and 38lbs down! I lost 6.6 last week and that took me a little by surprise. I did everything  I should do during the week but I didn't "feel" like I had lost that much. I have volunteered for extra credit the last 2 weeks and had great losses both weeks, I'm a believer!

I usually take the opportunity to read other contestants blog during my lunch hour. This week, I intended to do that but instead I just spent the whole time looking at people's pictures from orientation....wow! We have all changed so much! People ask me what my favorite part is of the program and I always tell them I love the variety of the workouts.  It would be so hard to go every morning and do the exact same workout. 


I'm 40 years old and I've been resasonably athletic most of my life but I've always hated running. It's just never been my thing.  I can see that's starting to change.  I'm starting to enjoy it as I get stronger. I enjoy just putting my ear buds in and having some time to myself. It's peaceful. 



It's been a good week. We had the cooking demonstration Monday night at St. Francis that was a lot of fun and informative.  

We ran 5 miles yesterday and it felt great especially since I got my new running shoes from Three Rivers Running Co, a huge improvement over my first pair.

I feel like I'm settling in to my new "normal."  I don't feel like I'm forcing myself to get up for the workouts. It's much easier to plan meals now, I basically know what I can/can't eat. In some ways, I feel like I'm missing something because it's kinda second nature now and not as difficult as it once was. As long as I keep losing, I'm not going to change anything.

Rick keeps saying everybody will have a week that they don't lose even though they do everything they should.  I have t had that week yet and I hope I don't  if I do, I'll just keep my head down and keep working. 



I'll be honest, it's been a tough week. It started out well, I lost 4.8 and I'm still in 1st place. I had to travel with work this week and that really got me off my schedule. I didn't eat terrible and I still got 2 workouts in on Tuesday but I couldn't get to the gym on Wednesday. I went to the gym at the hotel but all the machines were taken and I didn't have a chance to get back. My wife went to Florida on Friday for a girls weekend and that got my meals out of whack also. I'll admit, I had a piece of cheese pizza with the kids Friday night. I don't expect I'll lose this week, I probably don't deserve to.

We ran our first 5k today and it turned out pretty well. I ran it in 45:03. With my wife being in Florida and the kids with my parents, nobody was able come to the run to watch me.....so I thought. As we were running, I saw that we were headed to Lindenwood Cemetery. My mother-in-law passed away 18 months ago and she is in Lindenwood. I quickly realized that the course took us right past her. I couldn't help but stop running and take a picture to send to my wife. It gave me what I needed this week. Just when you think things are going wrong, something like that happens and makes you realize things happen for a reason. 

Today's run gave me just what I needed and what I needed wasn't physical.


I had to take a second out of my day today to blog about Mari! She has the most amazing energy I've ever seen. I love that she is doing the workouts right along with us! It's awesome to see her sweat!

I'm not discounting any of the other trainers (especially CeCe...I dont' want to be on her bad side), they are all amazing in their own way but Mari really touched me this morning and gave me the energy to keep pushing myself.




OK, so FWSW says I'm going to run a half marathon after 16 weeks and a starting weight of 311. I haven't worked out in years.....ya, not going to happen.


That was constantly going through my head until yesterday. Yesterday was the start of week 3 and the start of running instead of walking. I had it set in my head that I was going to follow exactly what the running schedule says. Walk 8 minutes and run for 2. Do that 4 times for a total of 40 minutes.

I got to the gym and hopped on the treadmill to get started. It quickly became evident to me that I don't know how slow a walk is and how fast a run is! Maybe that sounds funny but for a person that's never been on a treadmill, how fast do I set it? I don't want it to go so fast that I end up laying against the elliptical machine behind me while everybody on YouTube gets a good laugh out of my lack of knowledge. So I did what anybody would do that doesn't know the answer to a question, Google.


After a little Google instruction, I got to my workout. I followed the instructions to the letter. Walk for 8 and run for 2. I didn't shortchange myself. I made sure I was running the full 2 minutes. Nothing more, nothing less. Maybe I could I done more but it wasn't as much of a physical thing as it was mental.


Ya, I can do the training schedule. Ya, Crazy Tina isn't so crazy after all. I've got this! I'm going to make this half marathon my b*#ch



Today is Sunday and I'm figuring out that weekends are much harder than weekdays even though we aren't getting up in the middle of the night to work out. 

I'm not struggling with eating the wrong foods like I thought I would  I'm struggling keeping my eating schedule the same it is during them week. When my schedule gets messed up, it makes it more difficult to prepare a meal like I would during the week.

My wife, Jessica, has been a lifesaver this week. She is eating the same food I do and going to the gym every time I go and does her own workouts.  I'm proud of her.  I'm thankful for her. She always has my back but maybe more so this week.  





The first week is in the books and I lost 13.2 lbs! It's a great start but I know this is a long journey and the finish is more important than the start. I think if I keep doing what I'm doing I'll reach my goal.

Pretty excited headed in to this week!



I guess it's time to be honest......I've lived a lie for most of my adult life.  I never ran that mile in high school, I lied about how many laps I ran around that track at North Side, I cheated at least 2 laps, maybe 3. 

That was until today. I finished my 9 laps! Some of them running some of them walking but ALL of them full of effort! I was tired but I finished strong. It really meant something to me, probably always will.

I can't help but lay here in bed, sore as can be, and be thankful. Thankful for this opportunity but most of all, thankful for my team! I've been blessed with a great team. We all did well today. Maybe most of all, we have Jen. She's such a good fit for our group! 




Good Morning! I guess today is the day, the start of something great!

I went to bed last night nervous the unknown. Nervous I got myself in to something I may regret later (I'll probably have this thought Thursday morning around 6:30am when I'm covered in sweat and gasping for breath). I decided the best thing to do was to get up this morning just as it was a workout day at Spiece. I packed my bag, packed all my food for the day and set off to the gym at 5:30. 

I quickly realized that I was enjoying myself walking around the track. I was listening to some music realizing that time to myself comes at a premium with a wife, 2 kids, 4 pets, and a demanding job. It was peaceful....relaxing. I

I know this isn't always going to be easy but I'm really looking forward to it!