I didn’t grow up having a weight problem. I was an active and athletic youth and I never gave what I ate a second thought. Even into early adulthood, my health and weight wasn’t something I was overly concerned about. The last time I can remember being thin and physically fit was around 24 years old.
Fast forward 13 years — adding a lot of unhealthy habits, marriage and a child — and I found myself at my heaviest weight of 350.6 pounds.
June 19, 2013 was the day. It was the day that altered my life forever. It was the day I knew something had to change.
Let’s back up a few days. Three days prior to my “ah ha” moment I was shopping at a local Walmart for clothes. I was in the men’s section shopping for some shorts because it was hot outside and I had nothing that fit anymore. At this point, I was wearing a size 46 pants and I was searching the racks just to find something, but I was having no luck. I hunted down a manager to see if they possible have my size in the store or if I can order them online when I was told, “I’m sorry but Walmart just doesn’t cater to folks in your size.” That statement left me stunned and in shock. I left the store feeling embarrassed, defeated, without shorts.
I woke the morning of June 19 attached to my CPAP machine, which helps me breathe at night, and aching like an 80-year-old man. I had gotten so heavy that every morning it was a struggle to move because every part of my body hurt. For some reason, that morning in particular I felt compelled to step on the scale. I hadn’t weighed myself in more than eight months since I quit smoking, but this morning the scale called to me. That’s when I saw it, in flashing neon lights: 350.6 pounds. I was hot. So hot that I chewed on that number like a double-double cheeseburger all day long.
I was told, “I’m sorry but Walmart just doesn’t cater to folks in your size.”
That night when I came home from work I had my standard, brown-bag heart attack dinner from a local fast food joint and planted myself of the sofa to watch TV. This was my life now, inactive and eating out multiple times a day.
Then there across the screen I saw it: James Gandolfini a.k.a. Tony Soprano, one of my favorite actors, was dead at age 51 of a heart attack. I broke down right there on my couch. This man who weighed 75 pounds less than me died of a heart attack, and I knew in that moment that I had reached the end of my rope. I knew that I could be dead of a heart attack, too, if I didn’t stop the downward spiral I was on.
After that night, I was on a mission. I knew that I had allowed my own health to deteriorate by my own hand (and mouth) and I had to find a way to fix it. I knew that I had to eliminate from my life the foods that I had become comfortable gorging in. A week after my “ah ha” moment I was having a lunch with a client when he enlightened me on the lifestyle choice that had allowed him to drop a substantial amount of weight and that was becoming vegan.
I knew that I could be dead of a heart attack, too, if I didn’t stop the downward spiral I was on.
I was amazed at how this lifestyle change would allow me to do exactly what I had wanted. I did a lot of research to make sure that I would be able to supplement and still have adequate nutrition. Since I had already acquired lactose intolerance, giving up dairy wasn’t going to be a problem. So I decided on going the Pescatarian route. I would stop eating meat except for fish. That was it, decision made and I gave myself a deadline to eat whatever I wanted, which was July 4, 2013. That was the end of the old me.
July 5, I transformed my mindset, my diet and my life. I changed what I ate, the amount of water I drank and my activity level. I walked everywhere. I started out walking the trails. I would walk anywhere from five to seven miles in the morning before work and then I would do it again when I got off work. I was walking so much that I wore my shoes out and had massive blisters on my feet. This was just the beginning for me. I weighed myself for the first time two weeks after I started and I had already dropped 20 pounds.
I had allowed my own health to deteriorate by my own hand (and mouth) and I had to find a way to fix it.
A daily intake of food looked a lot different than it used to. Instead of all you can eat buffets and cheeseburgers, I was eating fruit and fish. Cheerios and almond milk became my best friend along with oatmeal. I always kept granola bars, peaches, grapes and pistachios on hand for snacks. Peanut butter and jelly became a staple. I ate tuna fish with olive oil instead of mayo. Subway is a great place for sandwiches if fast food is necessary. I would eat any kind of vegetable and any kind of seafood.
The possibilities became endless with food. I found recipes for vegan enchiladas, pasta’s and gumbo. I was able to cook with a vegan cheese that I found at a Whole Foods Store. I would find recipe videos on Facebook that I could use replacement ingredients to fit my dietary needs. I never went hungry and actually ended up eating more than before.
I don’t hold all the answers. This wasn’t a miracle. I just Man’d up.
Fast forward again to March 2014; a huge triumph was stepping on the scale and seeing 100 pounds gone. In addition, my sleep apnea was all but gone and I didn’t hurt when I woke up in the morning anymore. Everything was going great, I was starting to look and feel like my once healthy self. I decided at this point to take my fitness to the next level and began running. I wanted it all back and I was bound and determined to get it. I was running 3.5 miles every day and started participating in 5 and 10k runs. Then the weight fell off even faster.
June 6, 2014 I hit my goal. My goal weight was 205 and I got there. In 11 months and 1 day, I got there. I guess you could say had Superman complex. I finally felt like myself again, and it felt great! Since I hit my initial goal, I have lost and additional 10 pounds, bringing my total weight loss to 155 pounds. It’s now been more than two years since reaching my goal weight, and I have maintained my weight and my dietary lifestyle without wavering.
There’s not a single person who doesn’t have this inside of them.
I have no motivational speech to insert here. I don’t hold all the answers. This wasn’t a miracle. I just Man’d up. This was being in the zone. This was the first time in many years, I had found a rhythm health wise, and that later started having a positive effect mentally. This was me finally listening to those stupid doctors, who tell you in order to lose weight you must resort to extremes like eating right, exercising, drinking lots of water, getting rest, blah, blah, blah. Who knew?
As the world’s leading authority on being lazy, I was the last person that thought I could pull this off. I simply couldn’t get out of my own way. I’m convinced now that the human spirit is fixable. I’m convinced that there’s not a single person who doesn’t have this inside of them. I’m convinced that this change in my life is only beginning.