How Dean Walked His Way To Health
Having been overweight most of his adult life, Dean1974 was convinced that he would never be healthy or fit. Then seeking advice from his doctor about his health prompted him to change his lifestyle. He has lost 75lbs by adding exercise to his daily routine and revamping his eating habits.
1. What prompted you to begin this weight loss journey? Did you have an “Aha!” moment?
I have always been big. I have several medical problems including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, chronic congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease and high blood pressure. I was on a regimen of 6 pills a day for everything. I was speaking with my internal medicine doctor and told her I wanted to lose weight, I felt I was unhealthy and wanted to be healthier for my 3 boys. She asked me to commit to just 30 minutes a day of walking at my pace.
2. What other “diets” (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?
I had tried pills, diet plans, and even starvation methods. At one point in my life I thought it a good idea to use a bulimia technique of binge and purge. I gave up on them all and decided I was stuck with my weight.
3. Please describe how you reached your weight loss goal. What changes did you make to your usual diet, activity, lifestyle, and attitude? Did you implement any other strategies besides Calorie Count? What was the most important change?
I stuck to my goal of 30 minutes a day and began eating better. I was speaking with a friend of mine about how I wanted to lose weight the right way and she had lost weight before in her life and was running half marathons at one point. She herself had gained some weight back and was in the middle of losing it, she told me she would show me how to eat properly and help me lose the weight. She began to show me how to eat smaller portions and eat more health conscious foods.
As I felt better about this, I spoke to my sister in law who was always into health and weight control, and her and I began walking the trail near her house on an almost daily schedule. First I could do no more than 2 miles a day but rapidly found myself wanting to do more and more. I got up to 3, 4, and even sometimes 5 miles a day on the trail. I eventually settled in on 3 miles on a regular walking day. I had dropped from 275 in January, when I took this all seriously and joined Calorie Count to about 235 in June.
I flew out to Virginia where my son lives and met up with a group of my former employees and took them on a 4 mile hike to a waterfall. We had lunch there and my former assistant manager and another employee who is as close as a daughter to me took me aside and spoke to me about my weight loss thus far. They were impressed at me on how I could do a hike when before I could barely make it up a flight of stairs. This gave me even more steam.
I took my eldest son home for the summer and enjoyed Roller Coasters for the first time in years as I actually could strap in to them and ride them. After the summer before when I got kicked off the Roller Coasters because the harnesses did not fit, this was a great boost to my self esteem. I took the summer off from calorie counting, but kept it in my head to be mindful of what I was eating and still continued my walks with my sister in law. I lost roughly 10 more pounds over summer and did another 4 mile hike when I dropped my son off, this time he went with me as he had it in his head he wanted to stay healthy like his dad was becoming. This was a very important change to me. That my son saw a difference and wanted to remain healthy was the biggest and best thing I could hear from my progress. He has a great metabolism and is in great health, but he comes from a larger family and it had always worried me that when he quits being an active kid, it would all catch up with him.
My Goal was to reach 200 pounds by the time I had my knee surgery in December 2012 and I missed it by 8 pounds. But I looked back on the weight I had lost and realized I have the rest of my life to reach and then maintain that goal. I have gained a few pounds through the holidays and due to being less active with a knee surgery. But I have maintained my weight well and know I can take that weight off, plus hit my goal easily. I now live with the girl that was helping me with the weight loss and we both together use Calorie Count, and workout to maintain healthy weights. I was 208 in December and roughly 215 now. As of this letter (Jan 28, 2013) I have 5 weeks of Physical therapy with my knee and then I should be able to get back to walking for my health. I still eat healthy, and I still go to the gym for upper body and hand bike 3-4 times a week.
4. Please describe how Calorie Count was instrumental to your weight loss.
Calorie Count was something I thought was ridiculous at first until I learned how to use it. I began by plugging in numbers, mainly what I was eating after I weighed it and saw what the numbers came up. At first it was kind of weird to see my food broken down into the groups it was, especially the sodium and fat content. I have not put my own salt on food in over 10 years due to my heart problems, but to have Calorie Count point out how much sodium I was still eating from prepackaged foods was a real eye opener. I currently do not use Calorie Count on a regular basis since my surgery, and I know I should because it helps keep me in proportion to what I should eat, but have committed to continue using it as long as this program stays open to us to use.
The weight tracker was key to my lifestyle change because it gave me a comprehensive view of what was going on with my life, and inside my body (weight wise and nutrition wise). A perspective I never had before. I could watch that weight bar just drop and drop and drop every month and that made me feel great.
5. What difficulties did you experience losing weight?
I did not have difficulties losing the weight so much. I had a great support group surrounding me for the first time ever. I had people around me that understood if I did not do something about this weight I would die.
My personal demon is feeling like it is not good enough. As the weight came off I would not look back on what I looked like before and I looked down and still felt like the old me on the outside. I saw the belly and the back fat and I saw the jiggle when I ran. It made me sad to think that I had not gotten the results I wanted even after 75 pounds. I would cry in the bedroom because I was still wearing the clothes I had had at 285 pounds. My difficulty was a mental image of myself that did not change for a long time. I spent a lot of time depressed because I did not get results like I felt I had. It did not hit me until later that I had succeeded in so many ways.
6. How long did it take you to see results? When did you realize that you were a success?
I went through the summer wearing the same clothes I was wearing when I started. I was in a 3XLT shirt and a 44 size jean at the beginning of all this. At the end of summer, late August, or the beginning of September, my now girlfriend took me out to shop for clothes. I was just over 230 pounds at this time and I would still look down at my belly and see the 285 pound me. She took me to Goodwill to buy clothes, telling me that I had lost so much and that I was losing more and it would be a waste of money to buy new clothes since I would have to buy more once I hit my goal anyhow. I didn’t believe her until I got into the dressing room. I was trying on pants in the 30s range and settled on a 33 waist jean down from a 44. My shirt size was no longer a 3XLT but an XL and on a good day I can fit into a large shirt and a 32 Jean right now.
This is when I realized I was no longer that fat kid who was picked on in school, and that fat daddy that couldn’t walk with his kids, let alone play with them. This is when I realized the face I saw in the mirror was me, and not someone else. The double/triple chin all but gone. I realized I had a neck, and a physique. I was not just this round body anymore. I had changed.
7. How do you prevent relapse?
I prevent relapse by having my cheat days. From Friday evening to Sunday evening, I am free to eat what I choose. I still make choices in proportion, but I do not weigh it or log it. I take what I learned in this last year and apply it to my weekend foods. I do have an extra glass of wine on weekends, or maybe a beer. I have pizza or a cheeseburger sometimes. But I always know these are my treats for a week well spent. I just do things in moderation these days. I do not eat half a pizza, or a triple cheese burger with extra bacon and cheese. I have 2-3 slices max, and I have the single cheeseburger no mayo. It is all about finding the proper ways to treat yourself without cheating yourself.
8. How has your life changed now that you’ve lost weight?
I have gotten some self esteem back since I lost my weight. I have now moved in with the girl that was helping me lose the weight. I had a crush on her 20 years ago when we were teens. I was 190 pounds then and shorter, so I know I was overweight then. I do not think I had a chance back then with her. But we are living happily now together and keeping each other on task. I can look towards walking a half marathon these days when before I could not walk a flight of steps. I feel okay about taking my shirt off at the pool now. I can play with my kids, and ride roller coasters, and I have energy to go out and do things.
I now counsel people on how to live a healthier life. I only have a small following, but hopefully I can help them make the change in life they want to make. This is important to me because I went so many years feeling alone out there, and now that I know I am not alone, I want to make sure others feel that there is someone out there that understands them and is there to support them.
9. How long have you maintained your current weight?
As I have had my knee surgery in December, I have gained a few pounds. But I was on downward push right before I had surgery, I weighed in at 208 pounds, 8 pounds off from my goal weight. Once I am done with Physical Therapy, I will be back on that path yet again in no time.
10. What tips do you have for other dieters?
- If I had to tell Dieters 5 tips, the biggest tip is, do not diet. Diet is a word for people who want temporary results. Instead change your lifestyle. Make your food choices daily and learn to eat properly on an everyday scale, not just for 30 days.
- Next would be to stay active. Even if you are parking your car at the back of the lot to go grocery shopping, you are walking that much more that day. You are walking more than everyone parked closer than you are. 30 minutes a day can change your life. Dedicate 30 minutes a day to becoming healthier. Whether it is walking, Yoga, or working out, 30 minutes will make a big change in your life.
- Third is seeking support. I have not read about many people being successful in their lives without some sort of support. Find like minded people in your life through friends or family or a social club.
- 4th is quit talking about it and just do it. Simply enough, if you are only going to talk about it the only thing you are going to burn is time and oxygen.
- 5th, is never give up. Do not allow anyone in your life to take your dreams or goals from you. No matter what, make it a part of everyday life and just do what you set out to do. People will try to stop success, because they themselves may not know success. Show them what it is by not giving up, even if you slip and fall a moment, get right back up and keep going even if it is slow, it is still forward.