When Andy Davidhazy decided to take a selfie for every mile of his 2,660-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, he knew the last photo he took would reveal a totally different person.
“I wanted to come back with a new level of confidence, I wanted to confront a lot of fear that I had in my life,” the 47-year-old tells PEOPLE. “And I anticipated coming back a physically different person.”
Part of the physical change was his 50 lb. weight loss, which is evident in the time-lapse video he created after completing the trek that took him a little over five months in 2013.
“In the two to three-week window between the time I decided to go, and getting on a plane to start, I gave away or sold off all of my clothes – literally every last stitch,” says the Seattle native, who has kept off most of the weight since his hike. “I wanted to make it difficult to return to who I was before. If I was going to gain weight again, I was going to make it very expensive to do so.”
“I was eating anything I wanted and as much as I wanted,” he says of his diet, which included candy bars and macaroni and cheese. “You’re burning 5,000 to 7,000 calories per day, so you can’t get enough food to compensate and weight loss is inevitable.”
Though the weight loss is what he calls “a collateral benefit,” Davidhazy says the real reason for hiking and documenting the entire trail was to challenge himself.
“Taking those selfies was just a way to amp up my commitment level. If I took a short cut I would know about it, and other people would know if I skipped ahead,” he says. “And the thing that attracted me to doing a challenge like this is that it was unambiguous – you either hike every foot of the trail or you don’t.”