I appreciate the fist bumps, the kind words and the blatant stares (just kidding…nobody is staring at this haha), but I am NOT proud of myself. Yes, I have lost weight and changed the way I am taking care of myself, but it has only been 2 months. It has been 2 months since I hit rock bottom. What is rock bottom for me? Rock bottom is 281 pounds. It’s eating Five Guys for breakfast, Taco Bell for Lunch and a pie of pizza for dinner. That is not an exaggeration either. That was what a good amount of my days looked like if I kept a food log. You wouldn’t want to see the breakdown of the food because it would honestly make you sick.
I have lost weight before. I have looked good and felt good and I have gone off the rails not long after and gained the weight back; plus an extra 20, 30 or 40lbs! I know you may think I am being hard on myself and that I should celebrate turning my life around and losing the weight, but I really took this lifestyle challenge as a time to reflect on prior attempts to change my lifestyle and how I could change my mentality for continued success. You can’t look at these lifestyle challenges as X amount of weeks of a diet. Treating it as a diet is setting yourself up for failure in continuing to properly take care of yourself not only physically, but mentally.
THE PHYSICAL ASPECT
What does 281lbs look like? I am sure you all noticed my weight gain. If you would like to see the 6 pack of back fat or the stretch marks on my back and obliques, come talk to me and I will show you the pictures. That number seriously haunts me. I had never even come close to tipping the scales at 300lbs. I was terrified I was going to go to bed one night and not wake up. There were days that I honestly believed that walking up a flight of stairs or even walking back to my apartment from where I parked my car might induce a heart attack.
I have never in my life had to buy a shirt size above an XL. I found myself shopping for XXL and XXXL, or having to go to specialty stores for gentleman with larger figures. I missed family events and spending time with my children because I had nothing that would fit me and I was embarrassed to show myself in public. My aunt’s husband bumped into me one day and the first words out of his mouth were “What the fuck happened to you? You got really fat.” This was coming from a guy who has a decent sized gut hanging over his beltline, but I made his gut look small, because mine was busting out of my shirt.
I would be lying if I said other people’s opinions of me didn’t matter, or that I didn’t care if I had a good looking body. Whatever a good looking body means to you, we all have that desire. Forget what the scale says at this time. I know what my normal body measurements are and my waist was 11-13” bigger and my chest was about 10” larger than where they were for most of my life.
What prompted my sudden desire to get healthy? It was a comment by my older son. He consistently would make comments about me having a big belly. He didn’t say it in a teasing manner either. He loved it. He thought my belly was amazing and asked if he could have a belly like me when he got bigger. I realized then that I was setting my child up for a life of struggle. Did I want him to have the same horrible relationship I have had with food my entire life? Absolutely not. I do not wish that upon my worst enemy. My son hated when I told him that daddy was going to shrink his belly. He asked me if I wanted to look like a baby because only babies had small bellies. He even cried one night when I kept telling him to say bye bye to daddy’s belly because he said without my belly there is no daddy. What he has yet to learn is that with my belly and with the state of my health at that time, he may not have had a daddy much longer.
THE MENTAL ASPECT
This takes me to the biggest change I have made to my lifestyle during this recent challenge and that is the change of my mentality and how to approach my new lifestyle. Yes, I am doing it for my family so that I will be alive longer, get to run around with my kids and set a good example for them. I am also trying to figure out how not to rely on just that as my driving force. January tends to be one of my worst months consistently throughout each year. I tend to fall off my current lifestyle plan and just eat like complete shit. I am already game planning for December and January to figure out how to not allow this to happen. In the past I just figured everything would work itself out. I don’t have that luxury. I need to plan ahead. I need to motivate myself. I NEED to have a plan.
The NECF Lifestyle Challenge is intended to teach us how to create a proper lifestyle for long-term health and success in reaching our goals both inside and outside of the gym. Losing weight is the easy part for me. Keeping it off is always the hard part. I have set my goals, both monthly and long term. I am setting very lofty goals each month with the mindset that if I do not reach them, IT IS OKAY. As long as I am keeping them in reach, it means that I am on the right track and headed towards success.
I am NOT relying on the scale. Right now, the scale continues to go down. I know eventually that will change. I may hit some plateaus. I may also gain some weight here and there even while continuing a healthy lifestyle. I am utilizing other aspects of measurement for progress to keep me mentally strong. Once a month I am doing my body measurements. I also take photos of myself once a month to see my progress. Last, but not least, I have a pair of pants picked out every month that I try on to see if they fit, how they fit and to see just how far I have come since last trying them on.
The mental aspect of weight loss and a healthy lifestyle is ALWAYS the toughest part. You feel the highest of highs when it is going well and the lowest of lows when you fall off track; and it is so easy to fall of track. You have one bad meal and you feel like an asshole. You honestly feel like you have committed a crime. Then it turns into, “Well I just ruined everything I have been working to achieve, might as well binge a little and start back up on Monday.”
This is where I have had my biggest success in overall lifestyle change. I have really focused on not falling off track and even if I do, not feeling horrible about it and then getting right back on track. I have only had one actual bad day in the last 2 months. I caught myself right when I was about to let my eating get out of hand. I stopped myself, realized I enjoyed enough of the good stuff and moved on. I have allowed myself treats here and there. Every once in a while, if I have a craving for some sort of dessert or sweet, I will grab a cookie and eat it. I limit myself to one because I know if I go for a second, the next thing I know, I will be through the entire package. I am trying to train my brain to enjoy food and to know when I have had enough to satisfy my desire rather than just eating until everything has been completely consumed.
As I said in the beginning of this very long rant. I am NOT proud of myself. When will I be proud of myself? I will be proud if 6 months from now I am still following this healthy path. I will be proud if 8 months from now I can look back at summer and say I enjoyed every day of it. I haven’t been to the beach in god knows how long because I don’t want to take my shirt off. Lastly, I will be proud of myself if 1 year from now I will still be following this healthy lifestyle. I will be proud if I am allowing myself to enjoy nights out with friends and family, but staying on top of my nutrition and keeping my numbers consistent both on and off the scale. Then and only then will I be proud of myself. It is a long journey, but you have to take baby steps. Giant leaps will only lead to trip ups and failure.