Confessions of a Former Fat Guy
Mike Watts thought he’d be big for the rest of his life. Then he dropped 60 pounds
Weight Before: 230
Weight After: 170
Vitals: Mike Watts, 28,Boston,Massachusetts
Occupation: Marketing manager
Time Required to Reach Goal: 8 months
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The Setback After graduating from college in 2004, I worked in marketing for the beverage industry—where eating out is part of the job description. I ravaged bread baskets and ate three-course meals loaded with carbs. In 18 months I gained 60 pounds. Although I was once a fit rugby player, I was daunted by what it would take to lose the weight. So I began talking myself into a new image: Maybe I’ll just always be the fat guy. It wouldn’t be so bad, right? I gave away all my size 34 pants and resigned myself to size 40s. Friends joked about my weight, and I didn’t stop them.
The Wake-Up Call It’s shocking, the trade-offs we make. I was willing to let my body balloon because I always had things I wanted to do instead of exercise, and I didn’t want to change the way I ate. But as I gained more weight, those little freedoms stopped feeling so liberating. I was having trouble tying my shoes, and I felt awkward (and overdressed) at pool parties. Finally, watching from the sidelines as friends splashed around at one party, I decided I was wrong: My body was worth working for.
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The Food A nearby takeout joint offers large pasta meals for two with rolls; I used to eat all that myself. I was having restaurant fare six or seven times a week. So for my first change, I started making meals at home and tracking my food intake on an online calorie counter so I could understand what I was eating. I discovered that I could create flavorful food with half the calories, and now I love meals with baked chicken, rice, couscous, and vegetables. And when I indulge, I do it in moderation: I still order that same pasta meal for two sometimes, but now I share it with my girlfriend—and there are leftovers.
The Fitness My workouts began simply: I started walking around town after work. Soon I was running a mile and a half each day and forcing myself into the gym. I’d think, Just make it in the door, do 20 minutes, and you can leave. That seemed easy enough—and once I was there, I always stayed longer and pushed myself harder. How could I not? I’d come that far, and the gym was surprisingly satisfying once I was actually working out. Now I’m there 5 days a week, lifting weights for 35 to 45 minutes to work my entire body, and then doing cardio for the same amount of time. No matter how my day goes, I always feel better afterward.
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The Reward When you’re heavy and in a rut, you lower your expectations: You look at things and think, I can’t accomplish that, so why try? I know I did. But as I slimmed down, I started challenging those assumptions. I never thought I’d be able to run a marathon, so I ran one. Now I look for other races and think about which ones I can finish. I’m on a mission to push myself—to attack the things I once thought I couldn’t do. It’s how I know I’m never going to be “the fat guy” again.
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