How I Did It.

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The number one post I link to on this blog when people ask me to explain what I’m doing to lost all the weight I have is the What I’m Doing post found here. Now that I’ve hit the one year anniversary of the start of my weight loss, I wanted to take a look back at the things I’ve been doing constantly. Below are what I feel are the ten keys to my success:

  1. Eating the way I was meant to.
  2. No cheat meals. Ever.
  3. HIIT.
  4. Strong Lifts.
  5. Fun with Cardio.
  6. Eat my lunch like a 10 year old.
  7. Education.
  8. Drive.
  9. Setting Goals.
  10. Pay it Forward.

Feel free to read these individually and enjoy. Or to summarize, this is my story:

November 2010 I weighed 440 pounds. I was fat, lacked confidence and when it came to my own life, I lived in constant fear that I was having a heart attack every time I was short of breath. I privately started taking aspirin daily because I knew it was only a matter of time. Not only was I not trying to change it, my food addiction was getting worse by the day. I was spending about $500 per month on fast food and another $150-200 per month on convenience store garbage like donuts, bagels and sugar filled soda. I never would abstain from something because it wasn’t good for me and I never consciously did any form of physical activity whatsoever.

I was in pain when I stood up for any longer than 15 minutes. This made my job difficult and a social life less enjoyable. I wore an ankle brace every day and was forced to buy whatever clothes I could find that could fit me due to a diminishing selection at my growing size.

I privately wondered if anyone had ever loved me romantically as obese as I was and become and how long it would be before my children would start to be ashamed of me. I wasn’t an unhappy person, but I wasn’t happy. I was just living day to day. I had settled in life, love and was not long for this world.

It was at this time that I was preparing a lesson for a church group I was helping with and I came across a part in the lesson plan that taught that eating unhealthy food was a sin and it was a straw that broke the camel’s back. I realized that food had or would hurt every relationship that meant something to me in my life. It was time to change.

But, then I passed a Del Taco the next day and that was the end of that. The morning after, I was reading on Reddit and found a story from an individual with a truly remarkable before and after picture. When my heart had been convicted the night before, I knew I had to change, I just didn’t know how. Reading this man’s story showed me a person who had actually done what I wanted to do.

I knelt in prayer and went for my first walk the very next morning. When I returned home after what was probably a quarter of a mile, I was breathing so hard that I woke up my ex-wife, who quickly and apathetically fell back to sleep after I told her that I was fine and she’d have to wait before collecting life insurance proceeds. The next day, since I didn’t know anything about nutrition, so I just tried to eat a little less, hoping that I’d lose some pounds.

A week or so later, I was blessed to have a friend enter my life who is an expert in nutrition and fitness named Bret. I nervously confessed to Bret my desire to lose weight and he immediately grabbed a notepad and pen and jotted down a meal plan that I used for the next 9 months. He gave me protein shakes to try. He was there when I needed to ask a question about some kind of food or exercise. He encouraged me and told me he was confident that by the following Christmas, I could see massive results. I believed him and believed in the sincerity of his desire to help. Even today, years later, I remember that day like it was yesterday.

I went to Trader Joe’s, dropped a dime and filled a cart with health food. I brought it home, with a lunchbox that I have filled with food from my plan most nights since. I prepared food every night that was consistent with the diet and as a food addict, decided never to deviate from my plan for fear of relapsing. As with all things, I have had the support of my friends and family and that has made all the difference.

After spending a ton of time researching and after a good 6 months of progress, I switched to a wholly Paleo approach to eating. This was early 2011 and Paleo was starting to catch on, but I think it’s sufficiently “mainstream” at this point that I don’t need to cover it. Also, I talk about it all the time. The short version is that Paleo is a whole food centric diet: meats, vegetables, fruits and tubers. Don’t get confused by the name and it’s not all about bacon. In fact, my plate always has more vegetables than protein on it and that’s the way it will always be. I abstain from Grains, Legumes and most dairy (Grassfed butter and the occasional dip into some high quality cheeses).

For a more detailed account on Paleo, I’ll let expert Robb Wolf explain that.

After 9 months, I started some additional strength training and increased my protein intake to facilitate muscle growth. I will talk more about my exercise routine (part 3-5) and meal plans later in the week (part 1) in my series of How I Did It.

So allow me to present the tale of the tape:

  • Weight: 440 pounds to 212 pounds = 228 pounds lost or over 50% of my body weight. I’ve also added some of muscle weight to this.
  • Waist: 56 inch to 34 inch = 22 inches lost
  • Neck: 22 inch to 16 inch = 6 inches lost
  • Shirt Size: 4X to a Medium.
  • Collarbone: I now have one (or two? I failed anatomy)
  • Adam’s Apple: Finally.
  • Visible Veins: About time.
  • Fitness: I couldn’t walk to I feel physically fit for the first time in my life.

And the best metrics of all, people can wrap their arms all the way around me when giving me a hug and my daughters can sit comfortably on my lap without my belly getting in the way.

That is a portion of my story and why I did it. Please feel free to continue reading the linked articles above for the how!

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