How I Got This Body: Losing 45 Pounds While Hiking the Appalachian Trail and Living Off Pop-Tarts

All photographs courtesy Jonathan Wooddy.

Welcome to How I Got This Body, our look at some of the amazing things the human body is capable of and the Washingtonians who put their bodies to the test. Want to share your transformation story? Email

Who I am: Jonathan Wooddy, 27, accountant from Arlington

What inspired my change: “I decided to hike the entire Appalachian Trail (2,190 miles from Georgia to Maine) while living in the woods and take 5.5 months off of work to do so. I thought it would be a cool challenge and accomplishment.”

How my body transformed: “I lost 45 pounds. Since my exercise was only walking and climbing mountains and all day with no other strength training, my upper body became weaker, but my legs became much more conditioned to long-distance exercise. My overall health improved by living in nature for 5.5 months and exercising from sun-up to sun-down every day.”

Jonathan Wooddy (middle left), pictured about half way through his 2,190-mile hike, with his girlfriend and parents.

My exercise plan: “Walk 12 hours per day, every day, up and down steep mountains.”

My diet plan: “My diet did not do any favors to my body since in consisted of trail food, i.e. Pop-Tarts, Sour Patch Kids, ramen noodles, Knorr rice sides, granola bars, protein bars, cheese, pre-cooked bacon, Snickers bars, Slim Jims, peanut butter, wraps, crackers, sodas, chocolate milk, and lots of water.

How I stuck to my goals: “The thought that if I didn’t finish the trail, everyone I know would think I am a quitter and couldn’t finish this incredibly hard goal that I had set my mind to.”

How I feel now: “I felt good before, but not as confident as I do now. That in part is due to my body transformation, but also in part due to the great sense of pride I have in my accomplishment to finish the entire Appalachian Tail and the obstacles that I had to endure out there.”

One piece of advice: “Stop talking about it and do it. The world has two kinds of people: 1) People who watch others achieve dreams/goals and talk about how they want to do it and never do. 2) People who stop making excuses and take the steps right now to accomplish their dreams. There is no time like the present. Stop waiting and making excuses and just start doing it now.”

Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.