Four years ago I had all but given up on myself. I was quickly nearing 400 pounds and wearing a 5XL shirt. When my son was born I knew needed to make a change. I couldn’t be the father I wanted to be, and simple tasks like tying my shoes were becoming too difficult. I knew all along that I was unhealthy, but it became a spiral of emotional overeating and binge eating my feelings away. The more unhappy I was with myself the more I’d eat and the worse food choices I’d make. Stepping on the scale became a self defeating moment, because gaining 10-20 pounds didn’t feel like it mattered. Seeing the number climb was standard, and I stopped caring.
I suffered silently with depression, and I was too ashamed to ask for help. Looking back on most of my adult life I can see that I should have sought help. I had several panic attacks that sent me to the ER, because I thought I was having a heart attack. My pulse would be over 200 BPM and my blood pressure would be around 180/120. Even though I was scared at the thought of dying I didn’t equate what was physically and emotionally happening with my obesity. In the back of my mind I knew what I was doing to myself, but I got too good at hiding those thoughts. Doctors had been warning me that I was eating myself to death, and that I needed to go on meds for my high blood pressure. In response to their warnings I simply stopped going in for checkups and would only see a doctor for emergencies.
I tried many diets and each time I got more frustrated and thought there was no chance for change. I didn’t see results fast enough and restricting myself to only certain foods or dramatic calorie cutbacks would send me into overeating sprees. I love food and I didn’t want to give up enjoying my meals. However, I had a very unhealthy relationship with food. With every pound lost I’d inevitably gain two back. In 2013 was when I stopped weighing myself and I hid the scale under my bed. What did it matter if I gained more weight? The last number I saw was 375, but I know, based on my I’ll fitting clothing, that I was well over that number.
In 2014 a friend told me about the app LoseIt. Initially I told him that it wasn’t something I was interested in, but secretly I downloaded it and started using it that day. He had lost some weight and was looking good, and I was jealous of his progress. The first day using it I was stunned by what I saw. My breakfast alone was well over a thousand calories and it was loaded with sugar. I didn’t like what I saw on the screen so I started making changes to my eating habits. I started to pack a lunch instead of going out to eat. I cut soda from my day. I opted for fruit and nuts over chips and candy. Within a week I started to feel better and I stepped on the scale shortly after.
At my heaviest I was consuming over 5,000 calories a day and, between the soda and snacks, I had a daily intake of nearly a cup of sugar. My sodium at the time was three to four times the recommended amount which was a big contributor to my high blood pressure. Using LoseIt I gradually lowered my calories, starting at 3,300 a day, and as I lost weight that number went manageably and sustainably down. Now I eat a balanced and purposeful diet and around 1,800 calories a day. My sugar intake is healthy and comes primarily from fruits and veggies, and my sodium is within the recommended amount.
In two years I lost 175 pounds, and I’ve maintained that for over a year. I’m
proud to say that I’m in the best health of my life, and my doctor has given me a clean bill of health! My blood pressure is healthy, and my resting heart rate is in the athletic range. My goal now is to help others on their own health journey, and publicly show that weight loss and a healthy lifestyle is possible. I want to help other guys like me who struggle with body image and food addiction. There is a great wave of body positivity and weight loss support for Women, but that hasn’t been the case for men. I’m not a gym guy and I know others feel the same. Sadly, gym culture is what primarily dominates male weight loss stories.
The biggest change for me throughout my weight loss journey has been my relationship with food. This wasn’t a quick change. I had several ups and downs throughout my weight loss. I plateaued often and I felt frustrated when I’d go weeks without seeing progress. But, I trusted my journey and I kept going. By tracking my food I could see patterns of what foods I was regularly eating and I made choices on what to change. Food for me has become a lifestyle. I love creating new recipes and finding new foods that I enjoy. I’m an avid Instagrammer, because I want to show people all the good things I eat while maintaining my weight loss. There’s too much misinformation out there about food and weight loss, and sadly much of the culture of dieting is trading one bad habit for another. We need to love food and create a new culture of eating. We need to bring back the kitchen culture and start making good food a priority again.
My friends and family have enjoyed seeing the new love of life that I’ve developed. I’m happier now. I’m more active. I’ve found new passions and the people close to me get to experience the great food coming out of my kitchen. I’ve made new friends along the way and I’ve developed a circle of people who support and encourage one another in their weight loss. In the past year I’ve become very active on social media, working with others, like Wlstories, to encourage others on their own weight loss journey. It helps me to stay motivated on my own goals, and it has been instrumental in developing a healthy body image. There are plenty of days that are a struggle, and it’s easy for me to turn to old habits in time of stress. However, my circle of support is there for me when I need them. I’ve found that I’m much more willing to ask for help now, and I’m more capable of being vulnerable about what I’m struggling with. Having people close to you who have gone through dramatic weight loss is important, because they understand what others cannot. Body dysmorphia, shame eating, negative self image, depression are just a few topics that my friends understand all too well. Thankfully they are just a phone call away when I need them.
My starting tip is to make small changes and learn about what works for you. Every journey is different, and it just takes that first step to make a dramatic change in your life. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the scale and thinking about losing a dramatic amount of weight. Start small and make manageable benchmark goals. My first goal was 350 pounds, then 300, then 225, then 200. My goal now is to stay active and get into better shape. In the past two years I’ve become an avid endurance cyclist, and this past year I biked over 2,000 miles. My next goal is to do the Ride Across Wisconsin, which is a 175 mile ride in one day. That seems daunting, but I didn’t initially set out to be an endurance cyclist. My first bike ride on my weight loss journey was 20 minutes, and that first ride was a struggle. Start small and make incremental progress. Find what works for you and what you enjoy. Whatever you do to lose weight needs to become a lifestyle. If you hate your weight loss plan then find or make a new one. Weight loss eventually becomes a new way of life.