An English teacher living in Japan, he indulged in local foods and skipped workouts. When he finally decided to shed the weight, he needed some extra motivation. So he started photographing himself daily and posting the pics on his blog for the world to see.
After 84 days, Waters had completely transformed his physique. He edited together the pics, made sort of a virtual flipbook, and posted the video online. Since then, his success has spawned a series of online "missions," where he continues to document his efforts to get as jacked and lean as possible.
World Wide Waist
How logging online helped Adam reboot his body
There's a lot of dreck on the Internet. That's why it's so easy to waste hours surfing sites littered with celebrity scandals and pop-up porn. But for Adam Waters, 33, the 'net is more than just a place to read gossip or check e-mail: It's the tool that helped him get fit.
Originally from Brisbane, Australia, Waters has been teaching English in Osaka, Japan, since 2000. He loves his job, but it came with unique obstacles that challenged his fitness. Lean and athletic growing up, Waters was a trim 6'0", 156 pounds, with just 8% body fat, when he headed overseas. But with his new life in a new land, Waters could not maintain a healthy diet. "A lot of traditional dishes over here are very high in carbs," he says. "And the term 'vegetarian' doesn't compute." To compound matters, Waters often traveled for work, forcing him to regularly miss workouts.
He got a rude awakening when he went on a beach vacation to Phuket, Thailand, in August 2006. When Waters peeled his shirt off, he felt self-conscious and ashamed, suddenly coming to grips with the fact that he'd let himself go to pot. "You just can't relax when you're out of shape," he says. "That really kicked me into high gear."
Though committed to becoming fit again, Waters, then a flabby 185 pounds, was unsure of how to proceed. After a few months, he took a shirtless photo of himself and measured his body fat—it was 20%. Knowing he had to do something and sensing that if he posted his mission online he'd be more motivated to stick to it, he created a blog featuring his picture and announcing his intention to get in shape.
Once he posted a link to it in a fitness forum, the challenge was on for the whole world to see. "I wanted external accountability in real time," says Waters. Additionally, he promised to upload a new picture each day. "This gave me additional pressure to finish the job."
Then, the transformation began: Waters started preparing his own meals, eliminating processed junk from his diet and opting for lots of chicken, fish, raw fruits, and veggies. In the gym, he did high-intensity cardio and circuit training.
By the end of January '07, 84 days after he began, Waters had shed 21 pounds of fat and five inches off his waist. Pleased with his results, he edited together all 84 pictures in his archive, turning his three-month transformation into a 48-second movie clip, which he posted on YouTube. Though he'd made commendable progress, Waters wasn't quite convinced that he should take his shirt off on a beach.
Eager for approval, he asked readers of his blog to vote on whether his abs constituted a six-pack. If the majority said no, he would skip his already-paid-for vacation back to Phuket. To his surprise, voters overwhelmingly applauded his achievement, and Waters went. Though he continues to inspire people, the ever humble Waters is reluctant to see himself as a role model. "I'm just an English teacher!" he says.