My personal weight loss story (Like you haven't heard a hundred of these)
Summer of 2009. I was over at my uncle's house in Montana for 2 weeks "house sitting" for him while he and his family went on a vacation. This really was more me taking care of my grandparents and living the high life. Free food, satellite cable, high speed internet. It was the life I tell you. I was eating a ton of food. I stepped on the scale at the end of my two weeks.
I was 295 pounds.
I couldn't believe it. But this story begins a bit before that. My whole life I have struggled with being overweight. I used to love to run around and play, and also play video games. But somewhere along the way, my love for video games began to overtake, and I stopped doing less and less physically. I also was a growing boy, and like any growing boy, I ate a ton. I loved soda pop, candy, chips, junk food galore. I always felt terrible about myself, especially at gym class when I couldn't run a mile in under 10 minutes. I couldn't do a hundred push ups. I couldn't do one pull up.
I think it was about the ninth grade. I had all of a sudden become a lot more interested in girls and being attractive so I could get girls. I began to want to look better, and I started to work out. The gym classes in high school are a lot more "get you going" than I had ever experienced. I kinda cheated though, as they offered us the opportunity to go from the more advanced class to a "level 1 class" where they did mostly sports. We didn't. We were supposed to do some jokey weightlifting with a step up box, run such amount, and Monday, Wednesday, and Friday was sports days. However it was at this time that a little thing called WoW came into my life. This game ruined any dreams I had of getting in shape.
Then in tenth grade, I took a weight lifting class. I was so embarrassed the first day. I can still remember it. Everyone thought I was incredibly strong because of my size. (I've been 6 foot 4 inches tall since eighth grade... curiously stopped growing but that's a different story..) I was partnered with a football player, one I wasn't overly UNfamiliar with, but I barely knew the guy and he was well, a pickle and a half. He loaded up his weight, obviously very experienced with lifting weights, and did a set of 10 reps bench at 180 pounds. He was a little small guy at the time; it was impressive the weight he did.
I had never done any weight lifting, but for some reason I had it in my head that I could bench 200 pounds. I thought I could do it. I got on the bench, with encouraging words being yelled at me. "Just superman it, you can do it!" And I honestly believed I could.
But I couldn't. It took every last ounce of strength that I had to keep the bar from breaking my rib cage. I gradually worked my way down until I found my MAX: 100 pounds. I could barely bench 100 pounds.
Anyway, I had a difficult struggle in that class. I stopped caring after that first day, but I stuck with it because I needed the credit. That is until one day, about halfway into the semester, the teacher came over and was telling me how much progress I had made and how proud he was of me. He said I should continue with my weight training, and told me how I could even get access to the school gym during the summer for free. I grabbed the chart I had filled out without caring. I couldn't believe it when I noticed my weights increasing dramatically. I had a new fire. I became addicted to actually pushing myself. I had never before wanted to work out with the fire that I had. Instead of not doing it because it "hurt", I pushed myself. By the end of the year, I could bench 200. I could squat 300. I was really proud of myself.
However at the same time, I was still quite large. Sure my muscles must have been quite huge, but so was I. It was that summer after my sophomore year that I stepped on the scale and realized I was 295 pounds. Sure I could probably still bench a lot of weight at that point, but I also had a lot of extra weight on my skeleton. I was so badly misproportioned in myself that I knew I had to do something.
The first step was to cut out soda pop. I told myself I would just start with that; and I did. I successfully cut soda pop out of my diet 100% for six months. At the beginning of those six months I did get a chance to weigh myself (accurately) and I was over 300 at that point. But for some reason I didn't monitor this progress. I just kinda forgot about it. My daily 2, 3, even 4 at times (and more... my record is 25 12 ounce cans in a day) was gone, replaced with water and milk, sometimes actual fruit juice, but usually water. I took it to another level. Heavily cut back on the potato chips, candy, and all that kind of junk I was eating. I didn't cut that out of my diet entirely, but I noticed my craving for natural sweets as could be found in fruits had skyrocketed. I would eat an orange instead of a Snickers. A peach instead of a chocolate sundae. And I still didn't realize what was happening to me.
Then I started to have sleeping troubles. I read somewhere that you should change your diet if you are having sleeping problems, and that was what first intrigued me about being vegetarian, possibly even vegan. So I took my healthy lifestyle change to a whole new level, and went vegetarian. At first it started as only one meal a day could include meat, but I went on a mini vacation and that went down the drain. (The vacation didn't go as planned and I ended up not eating a ton of food actually. I probably lost a lot of weight during the first two weeks simply because I was starving at that point.) I had access again to an accurate scale, and I couldn't believe my eyes when I stepped on it and it said 220 pounds. In just about a year's time I had lost 80 poounds. I was floored. I was speechless. I couldn't believe it. I had only weighed myself three times over the course of starting at 295, once again to realize I was past 300, and then to realize I was down to a weight I hadn't been since probably I was 12.
The third week of my vacation I subsisted on fast food, and other than the terrible stomach aches, I was successful in monitoring the size of my meals and probably had the best experience you can eating only fast food. I weighed myself and I had gone up slightly, but only 5 days fast food probably won't make you gain a ton of weight back. But I got home and was fired up to begin a true vegetarian diet.
It was right before I went vegetarian that I had started to receive a lot of compliments about how much weight I had lost. I never paid any attention at first, as my limited mind still believed I was probably about 295 pounds. It wasn't until I stepped on the scale and saw 220 that I believed it. For a fellow that had lost over 80 pounds, of course I was going to receive compliments about my size.
And then there was vegetarianism.
My first three weeks was strong. I went to the farmer's market on a weekly basis, was eating well balanced meals. Then after that, I started eating "vegetarian" but not very healthy. Namely a lot of cheese sandwiches. My struggle with changing to vegetarianism, sadly, is also another story.
I think the biggest shock for me was when I was putting on my belt one day and I realized I needed a new belt. Not because it wasn't big enough anymore, but because the tightest hole was about two holes too lose. My pants were falling off of me. In just a years time I had a belt that could barely contain me at it's largest size, to couldn't even hold my pants up. My pants look terrible on me now because how many loose flaps there are tucked under the belt. It was probably then that I realized that I was looking pretty good.
I did eventually get back into a good vegetarian diet, and I am quite happy with it. I have been vegetarian now for six months, and I have never felt so good in my life. After I hit the six month mark I decided I could let up a little because I wasn't doing it for some sense of no eating animals justice. I occasionaly eat fish or even chicken. My only restriction is red meat. But I probably only eat meat an average of once every three weeks. I was partying at a friends house for a long weekend and ate a ton of fried foods and meat, and I felt so sick. I even gained a few pounds. Nobody can tell me that you don't feel so much better on a vegetarian diet.
I stepped on the scale again this morning. It said 200. I finally reached my goal of being 200 pounds. My 19 year journey of being healthy finally was showing real results. Now that I finally reached 200, I want to get back into weight training. The funny thing is I still have a bit of a gut. All of the weight I lost was in my butt, thighs, arms, neck, face, and those "secondary love handles" and moobs. So I want to get back into toning and all of that. I probably can't bench 200 pounds anymore, but I would love to see what I would look like if I could!
It seems that I can't do both. I tried to lose weight changing my exercise only and doing nothing to my diet. It didn't work. I changed my diet and decreased my exercise. I lost a ton of weight, my job is very physical so I did get a lot stronger, but I didn't get a chance to tone while I was decreasing size. I was doing those stupid muscle guy flexes in the mirros the other day, and I loved being able to actually see my arms flex. I used to could only feel it but you couldn't see it due to the arm fat.
When I was thinking of writing this article, all of these feelings of what I have accomplished just flooded my mind. I have friends all around me who are trying to do the same thing. They are unhappily overweight and trying to lose it all. Many aren't having success. I just want to reach out to them and say hey, try this! Get rid of those sugary drinks, those processed foods, even try going vegetarian. You will be amazed at what happens.
I still get cravings every once in a while for some incredibly unhealthy snack. Those cravings get less and less every day. I don't crave meat at all anymore. I don't even really want to eat it; the only reason I usually do is because I'm in a social situation where curteosy requires it. Spending more time in the Spanish culture doesn't help you cut back on meat :D
A slight addendum since I completed the rough draft for this article. It is currently July of 2011, and I stepped on the scale again after about 4 months of not focusing on my weight anymore. I kind of quit being vegetarian just because I wasn't seriously doing it. Between going to friend's houses who serve meat, eating out, and just being lazy, I have gone back to a more similar diet than I had before I started the weight loss. However, I still noticed that I was 198 pounds. That's right, I went from being over 300 to under 200 pounds. I still wish I could get back into a healthy diet, but for now, things are working fine. I eat a lot more fruits and veggies as a result of my year or so eating only vegetarian. And I usually try to only eat white meat or fish. So even if I haven't stuck with a healthier diet, going vegetarian helped me change my life habits, not just a fad diet.