My mind is a collection of unfinished thoughts. (I feel like that’s a quote I just stole from someone but I’m not exactly sure who.) I want say so many things but they just aren’t coming out the way I had intended them to. I need to write this because of all of the things I’m feeling but I’m not sure how to convey the words I want to say. What I want to say is different than what my fingers will allow me to type.
Losing weight is hard. Anyone who tells you otherwise either hasn’t experienced being significantly overweight or “obese” or wants to sugar coat it. I’m not going to sugar coat this for you (I’m also not going to tell you that you’re lazy for being overweight or repulsive and disgusting). What I’m going to tell you is this: losing weight is not a ‘fad’. It is not something someone simply does overnight. It is not easy. Losing weight is in no way “simple”. But is it worth it?
I was walking around the mall the other day shopping and I happened to notice myself in a mirror. I looked at myself thinking, “You really don’t look that much different than you did nearly 70 pounds ago.” When I look at my before picture from five months ago when I started living this healthier lifestyle and compare it with my present picture, I do notice a difference in the way I look. My face is slimmer, my stomach is smaller, and, (strangely enough) I look like I’m starting to stand up straighter. But when I was standing there, looking at my reflection in the mirror, I couldn’t help but still see the “old” me standing there. I wanted to scream, run as fast as possible from my reflection, break the mirror, but worst of all — I wanted to give up.
Some of you reading this may not know me personally, so let me give you a little background on me and my life.
I’m 25 years old. I’ve always been overweight. I don’t remember a time in my life when my weight was considered “normal” for my age and body type. I’ve lead a pretty inactive lifestyle compared to others. Granted, when I was younger I played at recess and did pretty much all of the things other kids my age were doing. I grew up on a farm and spent a lot of time outside. I even played football for two weeks when I was in seventh grade. (My helmet didn’t fit, I sweat in places I didn’t know I could sweat in. Ugh. Worst two weeks EVER.) In middle school/high school the only real “physical” activity I participated in (other than the required physical education classes) was marching band. Aside from that, I ate anything and everything I wanted. I never thought about the consequences of it because, well, I didn’t really care. I was drinking 6-8 cans of soda every day, eating out for basically every meal, and sometimes having a rib eye steak for both lunch and dinner. My life was a #mess. Skip forward to March of this year.
My wife Whitney and I joined a gym in March and made it our mission to start living healthier. We set out on this mission without any real goals, other than to feel better. The first couple of weeks were rough for me. Going from drinking a can of soda in the morning, afternoon, night, and several times in-between, was rather difficult. It’s not that I hate water – I just prefer soda. However, I was determined to change my habits and soda was the first to go. After two weeks I was down an astonishing 15lbs. I was thrilled! I was eating around 1800-1600 calories per day and I was actually feeling full. I was taking my lunch to work (two turkey sandwiches on whole wheat bread with light mayo, apple slices, grapes, and unsweetened organic applesauce) and I was saving a ton of money during the week because of it. Whenever anyone says that eating healthier costs a ton, I want to tell them how much money they’ll save if they stop spending money on random things they’re buying when they go out to eat out, or when they go to get coffee. Buying a large caramel macchiato with a double shot of espresso and adding a piece of lemon cake that you didn’t even plan on getting can certainly add up. Believe me, I was doing that almost daily! (Side note: I still enjoy a sugar-free skinny iced mocha latte every now and then and it’s WAY less calories.) Yes, buying healthier food to eat at home may cost a little more at the grocery store but eating out all the time hurts your bank account just as much – if not worse.
It was finally the end of March and it was officially time to find out if all of my hard work had paid off. Again, I had no intention of losing a large amount of weight in a short amount of time, but I was excited to see what kind of progress I had made. I stepped on the scale. I was 30 pounds lighter than I was at the beginning of the month. But you know what felt even better than seeing that number? Being able to fit into clothes I had hidden at the way back of my closet that I refused to get rid of (hidden as if they were taunting me when they were visible). 30 pounds down and I had never felt better!
April and May proved to be extremely successful months for me as well. I lost another 20 pounds in April and 15 more pounds in May. Altogether I was down an astounding 65 pounds! I was (and still am) so proud of myself. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would lose 65 pounds in only 3 months. I was on a path to healthier living, I was feeling great, and I even had some new clothes to show off at work.
Then came June.
June is typically one of those months that is packed to the brim with things that are happening. This year was no exception. I was out of town nearly every weekend during June, so trying to stay on track with eating healthy and exercising regularly was difficult. June was also the first month I allowed myself to miss a day tracking my meals on MyFitnessPal. I did manage to lose a small amount of weight, but it was nothing compared to previous months. My birthday is in June, as well as my anniversary, so I decided to allow myself a few meals that I knew weren’t the healthiest and I would just write them off as “gifts” to myself. I was becoming frustrated that I wasn’t losing as much weight and it began to affect my attitude towards living healthier. In all of the months before, I had not allowed myself to cheat (except for maybe one or two times) and all I wanted was pizza, candy, and bacon cheeseburgers. I would go a few days tracking my meals on MyFitnessPal and patting myself on the back for how well I did, but began missing more and more. A week ago I realized I was falling off track and it worried me.
When I was at the mall last weekend, I tried on a shirt from PacSun that was a size XL that actually fit. I don’t remember EVER fitting into their clothes. I have to say, a lot of things motivate me to lose weight and live healthier, but being able to fit into ‘regular’ sized clothing is one of my main motivators. I left PacSun without buying the shirt and headed to Hollister. I tried on a size XL in both their regular t-shirt and button down collar shirt. Neither fit very well. I could barely button the collar shirt and the t-shirt was still a bit too snug. Unfortunately, this is something I’ve become very used to, so I returned the shirts to their place in the store and left feeling disappointed.
When I look back at how much I’ve accomplished,
- Losing 65 pounds
- Not drinking a regular soda in 5 months
- Running a mile
- Running two miles
- Going to the gym more than 1 day a week
- Going from a size 42 jeans to a (comfortable) size 36
- Going for a walk before, during, and after work
- Eating vegetables I’ve never tried before
- Receiving tons of compliments on how much better I look
- Inspiring others to start living healthier
I can’t help but to smile.
I’m so damn proud of myself and all that I have accomplished. I absolutely refuse to give up on myself and go back to how I was living before. I can do this and I WILL do this. If you’re reading this and you’ve also been considering making a change to healthier living, just know that you can too.
When I started this weight loss/healthier lifestyle journey I knew it would be difficult. I had heard countless stories about people who have tried to lose weight, have been successful, and for whatever reason, went back to their old ways. I cannot not… no, no… I WILL NOT be that person. I have too much I want to do in my life to let something like my weight continue holding me back.
When you hear people talk about the struggles of losing weight and getting into shape, you’ll probably hear things like “Running is terrible!” or “Going to the gym is so exhausting” and even, “Eating less food and counting calories is just the worst.” But what you might not hear about is the most difficult battle you will face, and it’s with yourself. Trying to overcome cravings, getting yourself up off the couch and outside for a walk. Telling yourself you don’t look any better even though you’ve lost 65 pounds. Asking yourself “Why does it matter if I lose a bunch of weight anyway? I’ll never look like those models in magazines or celebrities on T.V.”
Cut back to me at the mall looking at my reflection in the mirror and thinking “You really don’t look that much different than you did nearly 70 pounds ago.” Remember how I told you I wanted to run, break the glass, and scream? I did none of those things.
What I did do was think to myself “DAMN you look good!” and smile.
So I ask again – is losing weight and living a healthier lifestyle worth it?
You bet your skinnier ass it is!
Thank you again to all of you who have supported me during this journey. I could not have done it without your words of motivation and inspiration and I definitely would not be where I am today. You’re all the best!