Name: Christopher Earl Hall
Height: 6 feet, 1.5 inches.
Before Weight: My highest weight was 270 pounds. My pants were a tight 42 inches, and my cholesterol was about 257.
How I Gained It: I wouldn’t call it eating — it was more like shoveling as much food in my mouth as possible. I was not satisfied until my stomach was full. I ate as if I was going to die if I was not stuffed. It was all about satisfying my urges and making myself feel good. And the food could not have been less healthy — I’d be lazy and get pizza or burgers for dinner for my boyfriend and I. I’d get Chinese takeaway for a quick meal for us. For desert, we’d go down to the corner store for a candy bar. I ate a lot of sugar, chocolate, and cookies.
Breaking Point: There were a couple of breaking points for me, although I think of them more as turning points. I was always unhappy with my weight, and I always felt uncomfortable in my pants and in myself. I got more depressed when I had to buy pants in increasingly larger sizes. This all put pressure on me, until one day I felt like I woke from a bad dream. I suddenly thought, “I am stupid for doing this to myself.” I also realized the damage this type of diet was doing to my relationship, and that for both our mental and physical health, I needed to make changes.
My father also began to experience problems related to his weight. His blood pressure increased, and he had problems with his knees and his back. At one point he was found to have major blockages in the arteries around his heart, and needed to have a stent put in place. I realized that could be my future if I didn’t make changes.
How I Lost It: I needed to change the way I thought about food and realize that it’s not there to make me feel good or safe — it’s the fuel that drives my body. Every bite has to contain as much nutrition as possible, with the fewest calories and fat. Most of my cravings were to satisfy my immediate need for comfort. I was very depressed, which was no surprise; how could my brain function properly if I was not giving it the building blocks it needed?
I made radical changes to my eating habits. I no longer skip breakfast — I usually eat a banana or two, with oatmeal or another whole grain cereal. My snacks include whole grain cereals, nuts, fresh and dried fruit. But I’ve made the most changes to my dinners. Beef and pork were replaced with chicken and salmon. I increased my intake of fiber and I discovered how delicious fennel was, both raw and baked. I eat salads several times a week — One of my favorite salads uses quinoa, wheat pearls, cranberries, almonds, and olive oil tossed with spinach and topped with baked chicken. I no longer eat any white flour or rice products. I get healthy oils from the fish, avocados, nuts, and olive oil, which has cleared up my acne-prone skin. I also feel that this has helped improve my mood and decrease my panic attacks. I’ve really begun to read labels on my foods. I avoid sugar, corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners, but I don’t miss them — in fact, I find that I get sick if eat any.
I also began to eat less at each meal. I realized that my stomach was not meant to hold a lot of food. I read that we have a tendency to overeat because our plates are so big so I now try to use smaller plates. More snacking during the day and drinking a lot of water helps keep me feeling full.
I’m not at the point where I like exercising yet, but I have slowly been making minor improvements there. I’ve found that small changes can make a big difference. I don’t take the bus, preferring to walk eight blocks to the grocery store and about a mile and a half each way to and from work. I do not take the elevator to my fifth floor apartment. Why waste electricity when I have legs to do the work? I do some light, strength building exercises at home. These don’t seem like a lot, but I have added some muscle. My next step is to begin going to the gym and start really working on my cardio and muscle building.
After Weight: 185 pounds. My pants are now a comfortable 32 inches, and my cholesterol has dropped to 148.
It took Christopher a year and a half to lose the weight, and he’s maintained his loss for more than six months.