Benjamin L. Chavez, Silver Spring

WHAT I'VE DONE After 30 years of overeating and hardly moving, I was out of shape and overweight and had no energy. My doctor suggested gastric bypass surgery. I opted to try losing weight the old-fashioned way -- through exercise and eating right. Since I began walking for exercise last February, I've lost -- yes, it's true -- 140 pounds.

HOW I DID IT I started walking on a treadmill, but after about two months I was bored and I didn't feel better. A friend suggested walking outside instead. I decided to try and walked two miles the next morning. I did that for a couple of days. Then she suggested that I try to do four miles. I did four miles the next day and eventually started doing three miles in the morning and three miles in the evening. People on my route started waving at me. I have been walking almost daily ever since.

MY MOTIVATION As happy as I am for Al Roker and his family, gastric bypass surgery is a solution I'd choose only as a last resort. In making a change, it helps to have a friend's support and encouragement. I'm enjoying my new life and intend to enjoy it for many years to come.

PAYOFF When I started last February, I weighed 349 pounds, I had a 54-inch waist and I was wearing 3X shirts. One year later, I weigh 210 pounds, my waist is 36 inches and I am wearing a snug medium shirt. My blood pressure's down and I feel a lot better. We're on the fourth floor. I walk up and down the stairs, no problem. A year ago, I would have had to rest after the first floor. I still have 30 pounds to go to reach my ideal weight. I fully intend to get there -- and stay there.

Have you found a way to make walking a regular and enjoyable part of your life? Tell us about it and the health benefits you've realized. Please include your name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Sorry, we can't return or respond to submissions or publish commercial endorsements. Our address: Walk the Walk, The Washington Post, Health Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, DC 20071; e-mail: walk@washpost.com. No calls, please.