Reflections On Two Years Of Weight Loss
I really dislike the phrase “weight loss”. ”Weight loss” implies something accidental, like “wow, I’ve lost my keys,” or “Wow, I must’ve lost my mind when I bought that Wham CD”. Believe me, I have not “lost” weight. I know exactly what I did with it and where it went, thank you very much.
I prefer the term “Body Rebooting”. Just sounds cooler. Hey, if they can Reboot “Star Trek” and “Spider-Man”, then surely I can Reboot myself.
2 YEARS AGO
Recently, I reread my post from a year ago here on Startupnation.com, which you can (and should) read here: Reflections on A Year Of Weight Loss . I remember writing that post and how emotional it made me to think about my journey to that point. I cried writing it, and I still tear up a little when I re-read it now.
When I began my journey 2 years ago, I looked like this:
That’s me at 383 pounds. 52% bodyfat. 64 inch waist. Size XXXXXXL shirt. 0 internal confidence. A real ladykiller. A man who was going places. Like to the morgue. If I was a rock star, that picture would be the halfway point on VH1′s “Behind the Music” when they ominously say, “but soon, Spandau Ballet’s lives would take a tragic turn….”
For me, it didn’t turn tragic. I woke up, got my butt in gear, and started exercising like crazy and eating better. So year 1 of this worked out really well. I dropped 79 pounds, several shirt sizes, and gained back a lot of my confidence. It was hard as hell. On more than one occasion, my wife caught me in the pantry at 11 pm – I wasn’t eating anything. I was just…staring at some of the food like a crazed nutball. It was THAT kind of hard.
1 YEAR AGO
Year 2 was even more interesting. By April of 2010, I was able to walk for miles, and so I walked my first 10K with my wife and Brooke, my trainer, who teared up on me when I finished it (I teared up too, but that was because I couldn’t feel my legs) I wrote about that experience here: Fat Man Walkin’! My First 10K And Why Pig-Headedness Is All You Really Need . Then, after 14 months of hard work,
I GAVE UP. I QUIT.
Yep. I hit a weight plateau, and did not lose a pound for 10 weeks. 10 weeks of getting my butt kicked by my trainer. 10 weeks of eating right. That’s 2 1/2 months with no progress. In the end, the constant disappointment was too much for me, and I just gave up. To me, the struggle was just too difficult to show no progress.
In the next 90 days, I managed to gain back about 25 pounds – back up to 325. It was like I had been pulling back on a slingshot really hard for 14 months, and then just let it go. I gained weight 3x faster than I could lose it. It was crushing. I went right back to my old habits – no exercise and a drive-thru diet. I just threw it all away.
I have been trying to lose weight for 20 years. I started my first diet – SlimFast – when I weighed 225 pounds in college. Since then, I have been on a diet at least 10 different times – Jenny Craig, Atkins, you name it. I am so good and dieting that I have lost my entire bodyweight over the 20 years I have been trying to lose weight. So in no way was I surprised that, for the 11th time, I had failed. I just mentally went back to sleep and ate whatever came in the greasy bag shoved at me through the drive thru window.
3 months later, I was moving through the incredibly painful process of losing my business that I had owned for 9 years. I spent my days trimming my 39 employee staff down to 0 and cleaning up my warehouse, liquidating inventory, and dealing with creditors. It was really, really depressing – maybe the worst I’ve ever felt.
One day, as I was sitting in line at a Taco Bell drive thru just depressed as hell, I started asking myself questions:
What is there in my life that I can be positive about right now?
Can I just change SOMETHING to make me feel better about myself?
Body Rebooting, of course.
It seemed silly. I mean, only a complete moron would actually try to do something 12 times and expect different results, right? Isn’t that the exact definition of insanity?
I decided that I was not insane, but I WAS pigheaded enough to try it again.
So in August I woke up, reached out and grabbed the reigns of the runaway horse I was on, and Rebooted. When I say Rebooted, I mean that I totally CTL – ALT – DEL’ed EVERYTHING. I started a slow carb diet the next week (thank you, Tim Ferriss), hired a new trainer, and got back to enjoying the journey of Body Rebooting.
I am very proud to report that, as of this morning, January 28th, 2 days shy of two years fighting the good fight, I have lost 101 pounds. I am 282 pounds now. That’s 353,500 excess calories that I have burned off. That’s a big Twinkie. Of course, I am happy about becoming a centurian, but mostly I am just relieved. There is still a long way to go, but for a couple of days I will savor this victory with my family, my trainers, and my friends.
There’s one important lesson that I have learned in this two year process and that I want to share: It is CRITICALLY important that you have a good support system in place when you try to achieve something as crazy as dropping 100+ pounds, but what you must understand is that you have to do it for yourself. You are not alone, but you must know that your motivation must be internal. The fire has to come from within. Use your support system, but attack the problem as if you didn’t have one. In the end, the battle is with yourself anyway. It’s hard to see at first, but you are worth the effort.
If you are serious about wanting to Reboot, here’s your best shot:
1. Spend a LOT of time educating yourself about nutrition. What you will learn, as I have, is that there is a ton of misinformation and un-education concerning nutrition in the USA. The average doctor spent about 20 minutes on nutrition in med school 20 years ago. They help with symptoms. Nutrition is about prevention. Proper nutrition, in my opinion, is MORE important than exercise (I did NOT say exercise was unimportant, trainers!) If you will follow me on Twitter here, I will absolutely help speed up your learning curve.
2. Go hire a trainer. Can they be expensive? Yep. Are they worth it? Absolutely. Tell me, I wonder how much having diabetes for 30 years will cost you in America’s health care system? The answer is hundreds of thousands of dollars. Trainer wins. Take a look at the picture below – do you really think that someone like my trainer would let you fail? Heck, I’m too scared of her to NOT show up.
3. Dig down deep. Find the reasons that you need to be in better shape. You’ll realize over time that all of your reasons (your spouse, your kids, your job, etc) have to start with you first. This one took me a while to understand, because on the surface it seems selfish – I wanted to do this for my wife and 3 boys – but in order to help others, you must first help yourself.
4. The scale is an asshole. It is not your friend. It lies to you. If you want to drive yourself crazy, weigh every day. If you want to approach Body Rebooting correctly, you have to measure….measure…measure. To effectively know your progress, you need to measure the following: a) you need to take body measurements – waist, hips, shoulders, etc – every month b) you need to measure your % of bodyfat every month (lots of places do this for you – the doctor, a trainer, etc) c) you need to weigh once a month d) you need to have bloodwork (cholesterol, triglycerides, etc) done every 3 months or so. You cannot get an accurate picture of how you are progressing without these 4 things. Bloodwork, in particular, tends to go overlooked. I submit that how your body is doing CHEMICALLY is just as important as how it’s doing PHYSICALLY.
5. Have a sense of humor about this whole thing. Yesterday, I was in my doctors office getting bloodwork done and I happened to notice the good old height and weight BMI chart on the wall. As I looked at it, I was shocked and amazed that I was now considered obese! Not super obese or super morbidly obese – just obese!
“High five, doc! I’m just obese now!” I said as I held my hand up. My doc knows me pretty well, and returned the high five with a smirk on his face.
Enjoy the ride. A task can be hard as hell, but we humans CHOOSE to suffer. Kind of silly, isn’t it?
Here is me now, surrounded by the best support system on Earth: My current incredible trainer Regina (Fitness Wife) on the left and my awesome first trainer Brooke (First Fitness Wife) on the right. In no way could I have come this far without them.
This is me by the end of this year:
I’m looking forward to the “Three Years of Weight Loss” post!