The Tough Mudder Community Helped This Man Lose 60 Pounds—And Keep It Off

By Jade de la Rosa | January 5, 2018


Daniel Carlson was, in his own words, a man with very low self confidence and self esteem. “I walked through life like a corpse,” he says. “I had nothing to live for and did not care what I did to myself. I drank and ate whatever I wanted.”

At least, that was true before he started his transformation on June 6, 2016, the day he started Camp Transformation.

Daniel, now 43, had tried to lose weight before, with some success, but he would quickly regain his lost weight by overindulging in alcohol and too much food. In fact, this was a pattern that Daniel had been stuck in for nearly twenty years. “I would go [to the gym] for a few months, lose 40 pounds, and then become not interested. Eventually I gained everything back.”

One day, after being stuck in this negative loop for years, Daniel stumbled upon an ad for Camp Transformation on Facebook. The campaign promised participants could lose 20 pounds in 6 weeks for free. “I signed up,” says Daniel. “I have been at the Camp in Irvine, CA for over a year.” In that time, he has completed three 20 Pound Challenges, an Accountability Challenge, a Hardbody Challenge, and an Alumni 15 Pound Challenge.” In total, Daniel lost 60 pounds and, better still, managed to keep it off while gaining strength.

After meeting Isaiah Carada at the Camp in Irvine, Daniel was turned onto Tough Mudder. Not knowing what to expect, he signed up at the Tough Mudder Half in Los Angeles, but was later disappointed in himself for not completing the Tough Mudder Full. “I was like, “Where is Funky Monkey?” “Where is Arctic Enema?” Eager to try out all of the Tough Mudder obstacles, Daniel signed up for World’s Toughest Mudder the very next day.

To prepare for WTM, Daniel trained six days a week, alternating between elite classes circuit-based cardio at the Camp. During the weekends, when he had more time, he headed out for long hikes with plenty of elevation gain and nothing less than 10 miles in length. “The whole purpose of hiking is being on your feet for as long as you can,” he says, to mimic the 24 hours to be spent out on course during WTM. At this year’s event, WTM 2017, Daniel managed 30 miles until he got too cold and had to end his race early. While disappointing, he’s also learned a lot from the mistakes he made at the race. “I know where my weaknesses are and what I have to improve on. Hopefully this year I can stay injury free and make some improvements.”

Daniel’s diet and training have shifted dramatically, too. “My typical weekly training is a lot of circuit-based cardio,” he says. Daniel also does plenty of strength training, hiking, and, most recently, bouldering and rock climbing as part of grip strength training. To support his workouts, he fuels himself 5-6 times each day, with meals like protein shakes mixed with spinach and kale, baked chicken, brown rice and asparagus, and protein bars. “To liven it up, I will keep soy sauce and Tapatio with me,” he says, “and maybe add pico de gallo.” Daniel admits that, while he doesn’t get too creative when preparing his meals, he no longer eats fast food or diet sodas.

Daniel credits his military background for setting him up with the right mindset when approaching an OCR event. “It’s quite simple for me,” he says. “You start at point A. You need to get to point B. Don’t think about it, just do it. Go!”

In Daniel’s case, his point A was 295.2 pounds, low self-confidence and a general unenthusiasm for life. His point B is now 235 pounds, confidence to tackle even the craziest Tough Mudder obstacles, and an excitement for what lies ahead.

While his mindset has taken him far, the Tough Mudder Community has given him the support he’s needed to stay on his journey. As of today, Daniel has completed a Tough Mudder Half, three Tough Mudder Fulls, and World’s Toughest Mudder.

“I have met many new friends and have even formed a little group which we called the West Coast Tough Mudder Insane Asylum.” When thinking about Tough Mudder he says, “I love every minute of it when I am out there.”