I was a chubby athlete growing up. Stayed active, but was always on the chubby side until high school. In high school, I discovered a love for weight-lifting and fitness. Fit, strong, quick, athletic – that was me. I played varsity basketball and was good enough to play in college. Things were going well until I tore my Achilles tendon. I didn’t realize it at the time, but looking back, that was the beginning of my descent into fatness.
I went from running and lifting 2-4 hours a day to not doing anything. Like most college students, I ate whatever I wanted – pizza, burgers, fries, an occasional salad, and plenty of alcoholic beverages. I went to college a svelte 6″1′ 180 lb and graduated with a degree and 40 extra lbs.
-The Real Weight Gain-
As so it began…working out off and on…eating always on. Life, life’s stresses, marriage, children, career, and how did I cope with it all? Eating. Stress/emotional eating is not gender specific. I gained another 30 lbs. from 1992-1996 and 40 lbs. from 1996-1999. I looked in the mirror and saw a 270 lb man looking back! Me – the fit, strong, quick, athletic, basketball player. Me, the former fitness trainer – it was me and it was depressing.
I was in the cycle. Eating because I was depressed, depressed because I was eating. Extra large sweet teas, extra large fries, breakfast at McDonalds after my breakfast at home, dinner at Wendys before I got home to have dinner. Commercial for a new sandwich? I was there the next day. I would go through iterations of working out and cutting back – at least that kept me from ballooning. I topped out at 278.
-A Little Light-
Along with the cycle of eating, I also took it one step further and hopped on the weight yo-yo train. Losing a little here, gaining a lot there. I had some pretty good success with Body for Life, which I was motivated to do after being diagnosed with fatty liver. I lost 30 lbs and was well on my way until I found the type I had was benign. The real motivation came once I was put on high blood pressure medication and my doctor told me I was on my way to diabetes. My Dad was diagnosed in his 40s (I’m glad to report that thanks to a complete overhaul of his diet and proper control of his diabetes, he celebrated his 80th birthday this year and is still going strong!)
In 2008, I joined Weight Watchers and lost over 70 lbs over the course of a year. I felt good; under control. My fitness was returning. I was able to stop the medication. And then I relaxed, stopped being as diligent, not as focused and my weight started to creep back up. At the beginning of 2012 I was back at a solid 248.
-The Lifestyle Change-
On the surface I was relaxed and enjoying life; but silently I was panicking about my weight gain. Was it happening again? My family expressed concern, clothes were getting tighter, and my weight was starting to not only affect me physically, but emotionally as well. Things were a little different this time: 1) I was exercising consistently and 2) my eating was fun, relaxed as opposed to emotional eating. I knew I had to arrest the situation – I had to make a change.
Another HUGE difference was commitment. I gave myself a start date, made a grocery list, cleaned out my pantry, and made a commitment to not start a diet, but adopt a new lifestyle. Most importantly I made the commitment. I made a commitment to a lifelong journey.
I changed my diet, added more weight training and intensified my cardio. I committed to following healthy eating – for life.
The real transformation happened when I made the decision to change my lifestyle. A new life is what I have now. My body, my mind, and my perspective have changed. Today, my eating is pretty straight forward. I exercise regularly and my goal is to inspire and motivate others to learn about and adopt a lifestyle of health and fitness.
Yes, I lost over 80 lbs. – and that was just the beginning of another journey towards self-discovery. It’s one day at a time, moving forward – but now in love, appreciation, and joy.