I weighed 230 pounds! Close to the heaviest I had ever been. I was approaching 50 years old. My knees and hips hurt. I was having shooting pain in my thighs. I was feeling sluggish. I couldn’t ride my bike more than 5 miles without huffing and puffing. I needed to do something! I had lost weight before but quickly put it back on. My attitude about food and exercise had to change!
So starting back on January 23rd of this year I decided to change my eating habits, start doing some moderate exercise, and I set a goal of losing 30 pounds. I was motivated by my younger brother who had lost well over 100 pounds several years ago as well as a friend of mine, 2 years my senior, who recently biked across Antartica to the South Pole after coming to grips with his own mortality. All my life I’ve poo-pooed nutrition. In my first marriage I put butter and salt on everything. I ate tons of red meat. There were always desserts and snacks around. I did very little physical activity.
A year ago I married my girlfriend of 10 years. She is someone who understands nutrition, knows about organic healthy food, and exercises regularly. For years I watched her stick to her routine, while I continued with my old bad habits. 2 years ago I came face to face with my own mortality when I fell off a ladder and split my head open. While I lay in the emergency room I realized how unfair I had been to my girlfriend. How easily I could have been gone in a split second. That’s when I decided to propose to her. As I look back at the wedding photos, I’m amazed at how heavy I had gotten. Even after the accident I didn’t care enough about my weight to lose some before the wedding. It took me several more months to realize I had to do something.
I had started some physical therapy to try and get rid of the numbness and nerve pain I was having in my thighs. I didn’t work that hard at it at first. I didn’t believe it would do anything. But then something happened. I started to notice I was feeling better. I could get out of bed easier in the morning. The pain was starting to go away. So I started upping the physical therapy and began using the treadmill. Every day I began to feel better. My wife got me a bluetooth scale for Christmas. That was the tipping point and the motivation I needed. Some may say checking your weight every day is not the right approach. For me, it was exactly what I needed. Analyzing each day and seeing how my diet and exercise affected my weight was critical. I began to see that patterns that worked and the ones that didn’t.
After 1 month I had lost 8 pounds. I was motivated! The next month I had lost another 7. I was halfway there! Then I hit the brick wall. The weight wasn’t coming off as quickly anymore. So I stepped up my exercise and made my best effort to get 10,000 steps in 4 to 5 days a week. I started biking. And I started eating salads most days for lunch. The weight started coming off again and I reach my goal of 200 pounds on June 16th. At that point I set another goal to lose 10 more pounds, which took me another 3 months. Now I have a goal to lose 5 more pounds by the end of the year. At that point I will weigh 185. 45 pounds lighter than when I started. A weight I haven’t seen since my late 20s or early 30s. I can now bike 25 miles at a time. Most days I feel pretty good. I am wearing pants that are 4″ smaller around the waist. My t-shirts all fit nicely without a belly bump. People tell me they can see the weight loss in my face. I feel great about my body.
So what’s working? How do I plan to keep the weight off? It’s might sound cliche, but it’s a lifestyle change. It’s an attitude change. My philosophy about food has changed. I view food as fuel. What do I need to put into my body each day to keep this 50 year old machine running and feeling good? Certainly a donut tastes good! But from a fuel perspective it really does nothing healthy for my body. That’s not to say that I don’t allow myself to still enjoy a good meal. I just do it in moderation now. I know that much of my eating was out of boredom or feeding some emotion I wasn’t dealing with. I find taking a walk or riding my bike and connecting with nature curbs that impulse. Of course, I’ve seen people who then turn to exercise as their new crutch or addiction and overdue it. I feel like I’ve kept a pretty healthy balance. I’ve been told I should run to lose weight. I’ve chosen not to. I enjoy biking and I enjoy walking my dog. I enjoy exploring all the nature trails the metroparks of Columbus offer.
Why am I writing this? Because just like other people inspired me, I hope I can inspire you! I strongly believe that there is no reason anyone needs to be overweight. That might sound critical, but I truly believe it. I made excuses for years why I couldn’t exercise. I over ate at every meal not understanding the implications of doing so. Any time a dessert was around I had to try it and then have a second helping. Just as I slowly began to see progress, I believe anyone can do the same if they just take that first step. Maybe your first goal is to get up out of your chair and walk to the end of the street. Do that for a week. Next, take a spin around the block. Do that for another week. Decide that for lunch you will limit your meal to 500 calories, this means putting more fruits and vegetables in your diet. Eat a handful of nuts or an apple instead of that candy bar. Watch a half hour less of TV and take the dog for a walk. Take up yoga or stretching. Do something! If you’ve been stuck at the same weight forever it’s because you’ve been doing the same thing forever. Losing the same pound over and over is not losing weight. Make a change. You’re going to slowly see a difference and become motivated. Think of your body as a machine. If you put crap in you’re going to get crap out (literally). Put the best fuel in you can. I waited too long to come to this realization, but I’m glad I did.