People are surprised to find out that I was overweight. They are shocked actually, for anyone that knows me understands my affinity for exercise, being active and eating healthy. But I wasn’t always that way. As I have told this story many times before, I decided to write a short article about my weight loss success and what I learned in the process.
How It Began – The High School Years
By the time my high school graduation rolled around in 1998, I was 6′ tall and tipped the scales at 300 lbs. I had been an offensive lineman on the football team all four years of school putting my massive size to good use. It was nothing new to me for I had been labeled the “fat kid” my entire life. Being picked on relentlessly since elementary school, I had accepted my role as the “fat kid” among my friends and football teammates.
In the offseason I was a powerlifter with significant strength (setting the school’s powerlifting records at the time), so in my mind, I was sort of an athlete. However looking at myself in the mirror, I was far from a specimen of physical health.
During this time I did very little cardio exercise, ate plenty of junk food, suffered from what the doctor considered to be asthma and was, to be blunt, unhappy with how I looked and who I was. Any guy will tell you that a big part of high school is an interest in girls, and while I had that interest, I had absolutely zero confidence in even approaching a girl to ask out on a date.
Dismissing it as my bad luck I accepted it as my life destiny – a big fat overweight kid who was semi-talented at football and could lift heavy things.
Off to College and a Realization
In the fall of 1998 I was off to college at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Continuing to do my powerlifting workouts, I also found myself walking a lot more often out of necessity (to and from classes all over campus). That December I begrudgingly went to the bathroom scale to weight myself expecting to have gained a few more pounds from the holidays. To my surprise, I had lost weight and weighed in at 285 lbs. How did this happen?
I knew right then and there it was from the more active lifestyle I had unknowingly adopted during my first semester of College. All of that walking had apparently benefited me.
It was at this point I felt a glimmer of hope in my life. Perhaps I was not predestined to always be the fat kid. Maybe I could lose this weight, and then, maybe… just maybe… I would have the confidence to approach and talk to a member of the opposite sex.
With Hard Work Comes Results
No stranger to the gym due to my powerlifting experience, I decided to change up what I had considered to be a workout. No longer would I only lift heavy amounts of weight with low reps, but I would begin to integrate other cardio activities into my routine.
It was not easy at first. I started by jogging one mile every day after my weightlifting session. It was hard…very hard. I can remember gasping for breath and wanting to cut my daily mile short. But every time I felt like giving up, I thought to myself “you can do this…you can lose this weight…you can make yourself who you want to be”.
After the first few weeks it became easier and in the months that followed I began running 1.5 miles a day…then 2 miles a few months later. Sometimes I would hop on a workout bike after my run for a quick cool down session where I would read some of the fitness magazines in the gym. From reading various fitness articles, I took interest in how eating right could also benefit you. It was not necessary to eat less, or “diet”, which I had always struggled with. You can eat, and eat frequent. All that mattered was that you ate the right things: fruits, vegetables, lean meats, whole grains and drank water during the day.
I adopted all of these practices…and I saw the results. The pounds started to shed off..from 275 to 250 to 225 to 200. By the start of my junior year in college in 2001, I was down to 185 lbs. I distinctly remember getting together with a group of my friends whom I had not seen since high school graduation. When they saw me for the first time they did not recognize me. When I told them who I was, they were speechless and could not believe their eyes. I write this not to brag, but to evoke to you a sense of how good it felt to hear these compliments and feel true accomplishment. Instances like these made all of the hard work over the past two years worth it.
From a Goal to a Lifestyle That Anyone Can Adopt
Flash forward 20 years later and here I am, a healthy and fit 180 lbs, and feeling healthier than ever. Once I lost all of my weight, eating right and working out was no longer a goal of mine, but a lifestyle. Everyday when I wake up I feel full of energy, ready to be productive and motivated to accomplish personal and professional goals. I cannot imagine a day without getting in a nice run, or hard workout and eating nutritious meals throughout.
The thing is that any one of you who are fighting to lose weight can do this. All it takes is three things:
- Exercise – Be active! You do not have to run marathons or go to the gym for 3 hours every day – just get up and move around! Take a walk for an hour, go outside and play with your kids or dog, go for a bike ride or set up a regular regiment of pushups, sit-ups and body weight exercises. Start with something small, and when it gets easy, moderately increase the level of difficulty.
- Eat Right – Do not stop eating. Your body needs food to operate! It is WHAT you eat that matters. Eat and drink natural foods – veggies, fruits, lean meats, grains, water. For an example, I personally eat:
- breakfast (eggs and oatmeal)
- lunch (chicken or tuna in a salad)
- afternoon snack (carrot sticks, apple or banana)
- dinner (usually chicken / lean meat with rice and vegetables or another creative healthy dish as prepared by my wife)
- evening snacks (small piece of 85% dark chocolate right after dinner, banana or whole grain cereal, an orange with herbal tea)
- Motivation – You have to be motivated. My motivation when I began was wanting to feel confident enough to even approach a girl let alone ask her on a date. Now my motivation is staying healthy as I head into my mid-adulthood years as a father so I can be active with my family and teach my kids the fun and importance of a healthy lifestyle. Your motivation may be different, but whatever it is, engrain it into your mind and use it as your goal knowing that the hard work will yield many feel-good benefits.
That is my story – 100 lbs lost and a better life because of it. If you are reading this and struggling with losing weight, please feel free to reach out to me. I am not a certified fitness expert or trainer, but I can tell you from experience what I have learned over the years, and even point you in the right direction for resources to help you accomplish your goals.
Thanks for reading and best wishes to all of you! 🙂