The Vance Hinds Experience: One man's weight-loss journey turns into social media inspiration

Ashley Ford | @aford_news

After listening to "The Joe Rogan Experience" podcast, Vance Hinds found the inspiration to embark on his journey to a lighter, healthier life. But along with the strides of determination, he’s started a movement with friends and strangers on social media.

On Nov. 19, the Ellis County and District assistant attorney posted his first video to social media expressing how the comedian Bert Kreischer inspired him after running a half marathon with little time to prepare. In his post, he tagged Kreischer and Joe Rogan.

“I woke up and started drinking my coffee, and I was looking at Instagram, and there’s a video of Bert finished the St. Pete half marathon in California,” Hinds said. “I was sitting in the chair thinking, ‘you know, if that silly son of a b**** can run a half marathon on two and half weeks then I can get off this couch and walk.’ And so that was my inspiration.”

When Hinds started listening to the podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience." The comedians in the podcast were participating in a movement called Sober OctoBERT, where they all gave up alcohol or marijuana and had to complete 15 hour-and-a-half sessions of hot yoga.

Laying in bed that Sunday night, Hinds was scrolling through social media before going to be and received a notification on his Twitter that Kreischer quote tweeted on his video, tagging Tom Segura, saying “Changing lives.” Hinds immediately woke up his wife, Mary Hinds, with excitement.

The next morning, he went to his bathroom and weighed himself, wearing only his underwear. The scale read 475.

Before embarking on the journey, Hinds had two main goals — post everything publically and commit to saying “yes” when it comes to staying active.

This isn’t the first time for Hinds to get on a string of workouts and through his experiences, he knows where his weaknesses sit.

“Over my life, I’ve lost and gained hundreds, if not thousands of pounds. Normally, periodically, I start these paths, and I lose weight for a while, exercising on my own. But with my wife, it’s just us two, and it’s easy to talk yourself out of it. You do pretty good for a few weeks and a month, and then you start slacking off, and then you quit. I’ve done that over and over and over again.”

By posting on social media, people are holding him accountable. With documenting his active lifestyle, it has kept him motivated to see the reactions and the obstacles he’s overcome.

Folks from Australia, Scotland and other places around the world have direct messaged Hinds, saying how they are inspired by his efforts to do the same thing. His social media presence has even reached strangers in Waxahachie. One day while walking out of Gold’s Gym, a muscular guy shared with Hinds that he’s been keeping up with his videos and told him to keep it up. “I swam a little harder that night, it felt good,” Hinds said.

On week two, Hinds gained three pounds, weighing 478. But, on week three, he weighed 468 pounds. On Dec. 11, he weighed 461.

Hinds has an attitude of just do it. He said, “I don’t know if I have a choice anymore at the age of 52. I have to get this weight off of me. I just think if I have some extended sickness or injury that I’m going to get to the point that I’m not strong enough to move 462 pounds to be mobile. I don’t think I have a choice. When I started this, I was damn near 500 pounds, close to a quarter ton, so I gotta get it off.”

Hinds likes to mix up his busy workout lifestyle between walking either at the park or track, water aerobics, and body pump twice a week. Next, he wants to incorporate a yoga class.

But Wednesdays have become a special time on his workout plan. After Hinds made his public announcement about his lifestyle change, one of his best friends since third grade, David Snell, called him up, asking how serious he was about all of this. Once Snell got the confirmation that this was a done deal for Hinds, he was on board too.

“It’s great. Look, Vance isn’t just helping himself. Look, he’s helping everyone. The truth be told, we all got a weight problem. Vance is pushing all of us by getting involved, Snell said. “Everything he’s doing is a motivation. You know he’s showing the message if Vance Hinds can do it, then we all can do it.”

Every Wednesday, friends from the Waxahachie High School, mainly the class of 1983 join to walk with Hinds. Over the weeks, the group has grown. On week four, a total of 12 people were walking with him.

Another childhood friend, Mark Howell, has embarked on this journey with Hinds. Before all of this, Howell said he wasn’t nearly as active, but Hinds has rubbed off on him.

Howell explained, “It’s impacting me a lot already. Just exercising and being with friends, that’s the best part is the friendship that we still have with all of the classmates coming out and getting behind him.”

Seeing his best friend go through this, Howell said, “It’s awesome seeing himself try and push himself, sweat and we just gotta get him back healthy and same with me. You gotta lose as much weight as you can and benefit from our friendships so we can live a long life.”

Another motivation is Hinds’ three children. “Your kids make you better, kids make you want to do better… not only am I doing it for myself, but I’m doing it for them too, to show them that they can do anything if they put their mind to it,” he said.

Even though it’s only been four weeks of a long journey, Hinds said he’s already seen change, not only in his weight but his life. With being so public of social media, Hinds has opened up about a subject that wasn’t easy to talk about. By opening up, he’s found appreciation for several things in life.

“I feel like once I cut it open, [...] I don't have anything to hide. Hell, I put myself on the Internet in my underwear weight 475 pounds. It’s liberating, but it’s also humbling to see all of the support.”

Along with his goals of being public with his workouts and saying “yes” to working out with others, he’s got two short-term goals. First, he will walk the hike and bike trail start to finish and back, totaling at a little over six miles. But the other goal will be when his inspiration Kreischer comes to San Antonio for a comedy show.

“I want to be under 400 pounds when I go see Bert on April the 7th, just in case he acknowledges me or in case he throws me in jail for stalking, then I’ll be able to fight my way a little better,” Hinds said.

This story is to be continued.