Monday, March 22, 2010

New Pant Size!

I'm a legit 38 waist! I've gone from a size 48 to a size 38, and a size 3XL shirt to an XL-tall size...

New post coming soon: What I learned from Ultra Metabolism by Mark Hyman

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Breaking the Plateau

Today's weight:  269.6 lbs. 114 lbs lost, 29.6 to go!

Dropping over 30 lbs. in the first few months of 2007 was really an incredible encouragement.  I was working hard, and seeing results; nothing is more motivating than seeing products of what you're doing!  I had friends who were helping me make progress, and life was good, I could see myself getting healthier from week to week...

However, that's where it stopped.  I hovered around 350 lbs. from the summer of 2007 to about May 2009.  It was frustrating, mostly because I couldn't figure out why I couldn't lose any more weight.  Though I wasn't exercising as consistently as I did when I was losing weight, I was significantly more active, and I hadn't changed my eating habits at all from what I was eating when I was having success.

The summer of 2009 was where it all changed.  On a 20-hour, two-day drive from Nebraska to the Adirondacks of New York to start my summer job, I listened to a book-on-tape which changed the way I look at food and exercise forever.  Mark Hyman's "Ultra-Metabolism" was an entirely educational experience for me.  The book explained to me the importance of exercising to build muscle cells which increase your metabolism and burn fat, the function of food, what each food group does for your body from a purely nutritional standpoint, and which foods do nothing for you (and why).

My fiancĂ©e and I purchased gym memberships in late June in the small town where we spent our summer working, and over the next nine weeks, we spent at least an hour at the gym, 6 days per week.  Working at a resort, I had the added benefit of being able to schedule my eating precisely, as the food schedule was the same from week-to-week.  I went into each meal having planned out exactly what I was going to eat, how much, and I did this for every meal of every week.

The results?  From May through August 2009, I went from 353 lbs. to 308 lbs, dropping my BMI from 40.8 to 35.6!  My organized process of weight loss was working!  I weighed myself daily, and I was able to extract knowledge about the food I was eating from any sudden spikes in my weight, and eventually eliminate the spikes by realizing that "oh, the weekly two slices of pizza the staff eats makes me spike due to the amount of fat and sodium that my body isn't used to"...

Since August, I have lost almost 40 more pounds, being consistent with the foods I eat, though I can't exercise as much, due to a more rigorous schedule.  I find myself now under 30 pounds away from reaching the goal I set in 2007, and this striking distance is somewhere that once upon a time I could only dream it is in my sights.

Now, let me make something clear: from time to time, yes, I do give in to temptations...I love Italian foods with a passion, it's delicious every once in a while to enjoy a heavy dish with plenty of cheese, or a deep dish pizza, and I have the occasional fast food.

The point is, I have, with God's help, and discipline, GAINED CONTROL over my eating.  I have the will power to say no, and I have the discipline to eat suitable portions and cook myself healthy food.

Next post:  What I learned from Ultra-Metabolism about food, and how certain kinds of food affect my body, what to eat and what to avoid.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Breaking Point

Today's weight: 271.4 lbs, 112.4 lbs. lost total, 31.4 to go!

 Photo collage explanation:  Made this several months ago, picture on the left is at roughly 355 lbs, top center is around 380 lbs, bottom center is 316 lbs this past summer, on the right is about 290 lbs...eventually, I'll put together a final Before/After...

It was a tough day, when I stepped on the scale and 383.8 lbs. popped up.  It was a shock, yes, since I hadn't weighed myself in over a year, and the number was way higher than I was ready for, but after the initial surprise wore off and I had a chance to think about it, it made sense.  I could then admit what I knew all along, which was that I ate too much, I ate the wrong things and I wasn't enough exercise to keep up with my terrible eating habits.

That night, January 5th, 2007, I made the decision that has changed my life.  I decided that maintaining the lifestyle I was living was not going to be an option, and that I had to turn things around, undoing all the habits I had built up from my childhood until that point.  I was fortunate enough to have a friend with me at the time who help lessen the blow, encouraging me by telling me I could get the weight off, and he ended up working out with me 5-6 days per week for the first three or four months after that day.

The progress I made in the few months after that night was wonderful, by the end of the school year in April, I had lost 30 pounds, and by the end of that summer, I was below 350 lbs.

I had made great progress, and I felt for the first time that I was on the right track, but there was still a long way to go, and understandably, I think, after living the previous 10-12 years of my life quite overweight,  there  was some doubt..."can I really do this, is this possible?"

I was on the right track, but I made some crucial errors even while my heart was in the right place.  Essentially a two-year plateau happened between 2007-2009 because I still didn't understand how food affected my body.  I had finally grasped exactly why I needed to be exercising, and that had been paying dividends, but my progress had stopped by the fall of 2007.

Next post:  I'll explain why I could only maintain my weight from 2007-2009, even gaining a few pounds, and what I did to get through that barrier...also, I'll finish the background story, bringing us to the present, and how I've lost 82 pounds in the last 10 months!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

High School, College and Diabetes

Today's weight: 272.8 lbs, 111 lbs. lost total, 32.8 to go!

If overeating and imbalance were the downfall of my health as a younger kid, just about every other bad eating habit I picked up in my high school and college years.  If I had to give a chronology, I'd say high school was where I started eating poorly and snacking between meals, and when I got to college, that's when I started eating at all the wrong times and overeating bad foods all at the same time.

Eating on my own the majority of the time, alongside other adolescents who similarly knew little about nutrition but perhaps had a cooperating metabolism, pizza and fries were my lunch nearly every day in my high school's cafeteria, sporadically supplementing my pizza with a salad covered in Ranch dressing.

I've never been really drawn to sweets or soda, but that's the only area which didn't give me trouble.  In addition to essentially devoting that one meal per day to empty carbohydrates almost exclusively, I developed a pretty terrible habit of between-meal snacking, mostly things like saturated fats and simple carbs---breads, cheeses, salt-filled foods.

By my junior year of high school, I had reached 6'5" tall, but I had also grown to a full 328 lbs.  I often felt fatigued and hungry, and though I was not what you might call a "couch potato," and in fact was relatively active (though not exercising consistently), I felt lethargic and weak.  In subsequent doctor visits, I was diagnosed with symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes.  With the help of my family, I was able to slow down the symptoms, and actually slow down the weight gain by changing my diet.

However, while the changes I made were certainly helpful, maintaining my weight for several years before getting to college, what I still lacked was a concrete understanding of how food affected my body, so in a sense I was still flying blind.

After a year and a half of college, eating what my classmates were eating, late-night pizza often and overeating in the cafeteria, I reached my low point, weighing in at 383 lbs. during my sophomore year.  I had gotten to a point where it was clear to me that continuing to live this way would mean my life was getting shorter and shorter every day.

Next post:  The Breaking Point

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A little background...

Weight loss updates - Whenever I post, I'll begin each one by giving that day's weight, my total weight loss from my peak weight, and how far I have left to my goal weight (which is 240 lbs, for reference, I am 6'6" tall)

Today's weight: 273.4 lbs, 110 lbs. lost total, 33.4 to go!

I thought I'd provide a little background on how I got to my own personal low in my health, and what contributed to my weight gain.  It will obviously be the most fun to talk about my successes, and how I've gotten to where I am now, but the reality of it is, half the battle for me was to realize what things in my life I had to cut out to be able to make progress.  So, here it goes.

I've always loved while I'm sure that's not shocking--everybody loves eating--I think it's really the fundamental crossroads for someone who has diet issues.  You can take that love of eating and harness it, learning to enjoy healthy foods and what your body needs, OR, you lose control, eating what you want and what you crave, however much you want, when you want it and with disregard to what function it serves your body (or doesn't serve, as the case would be).

For me, age 9 or 10 is when I first lost control.  I was extremely fortunate in the sense that I had always been big into athletics from a very early age, and I played organized sports most of the way through high school.  Had I not been getting that consistent exercise from an early age, my situation could have been vastly worse.  As it was, around age 9 or 10, I began to show signs of my eleventh birthday, I was tall for my age, 5'7", but I weighed nearly 170 lbs, and I was still pudgy.

The habits I developed in those years, specifically, I believe were habits of overeating.  My family ate a lot of produce from our large home garden, and certainly healthy food was available to me, but I loved the starches (pasta, rice), cheeses and condiments.  The fact alone that you're eating these foods won't cause you to gain a tremendous amount of weight, it's the portion size, and the balance of diet which is important.  The fact was, the diet I had gotten accustomed to was HEAVY in simple carbohydrates and fat, and I was overeating those things.

Next post: High school, college, and Diabetes


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The First Step

Thanks for visiting!  I've had encouragement from all kinds of sources during my quest to become healthy over the past few years, and I wanted to start this blog to help others who have lost control of their health realize that no one is beyond hope...

Inspiration is the first step for most who forsee a long journey ahead of them, and I hope to be able to provide some of that!  I struggled with my weight from a very early age, never corrected my habits, and eventually became morbidly obese and was diagnosed with symptoms of Type 2 Diabetes.  The turning point was about two years ago now, when I realized I was putting my life in jeopardy by the way I ate and by my lack of activity.

For those of you out there for whom this sounds familiar, I've been there, and I can help you get back!  For those of you who haven't ever been quite that unhealthy, but are trying to treat your body as well as possible in becoming more healthy, that is the stage I am in now, as I approach my ideal weight.  For you readers out there, let's do this together!

I will read comments on my posts, and I would love to answer any questions you may have!  I am still in the process of shedding the products from years of unhealthy living, and I hope we can be a mutual encouragement!