Male Before And After Weight Loss: I Lost 112 Pounds And Reinvented Myself
For Revgum, popular weight loss programs didn’t bring the results he wanted. He made the decision last year to finally take control of his weight and has since lost 112 pounds by changing his eating habits and starting a running program.
1. What prompted you to begin this weight loss journey? Did you have an “Aha!” moment?
I had been obese for most, if not all, of my childhood and up through my 20s. I had low self esteem, I was shy, and I relied on being the “funny fat guy” in most social situations. Most people thought I was perfectly happy the way I was, but deep down I knew I was not.
Through my 20’s I struggled with chronic pain, a back surgery, borderline hypertension, and high blood pressure. It was becoming apparent to me that I was not going to live a long, healthy, and happy life with the direction that I was headed. Despite the signs that were presenting themselves to me, I continued to overeat and live a sedentary lifestyle.
On my 30th birthday I thought to myself that it was time to make some changes and to re-invent myself. Three months later, I finally made the first step and started going to the gym at lunch time.
2. What other “diets” (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?
I’ve tried Weight Watchers, Atkins, and those “cookie” fad diets in the past. On Atkins, I had lost about 70lbs in the span of a year but gained it all back plus some because Atkins just wasn’t a sustainable way to eat. I was only mildly successful with Weight Watchers, mainly because I would “cheat” too often and get discouraged. The “cookie” diet was a waste of money, I couldn’t stand eating those things for more than a week.
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 became an active person by going to the gym and burning 400 to 500 calories four or five times a week as well as walking and hiking on the weekend with my wife. By the time I was just under 300lbs, I decided that I might give running a try even though I was completely embarrassed and hesitant at first. I had heard of the program “Couch to 5k” through a few friends, and decided that I would give it a try.
With the frequent milestones accomplished each week of the “Couch to 5k” program, I was feeling better about myself and starting to see that I might possibly enjoy running. I wrote this in my journal after 4 weeks of the program.
“At first I was a hesitant at running on the treadmill because I rarely saw someone my size doing it.. at some point I realized that I’m getting a lot more out of running than maybe someone who has that tone/fit body and is in maintenance mode. Maybe they remember being my size once, I hope it gives them some sense of encouragement to keep going. When I’m not sweating as much as I do now, and maybe this running seems easier than it does now, I hope someone big runs right next to me to remind me where I’ve come from and what I’ve done.. so for now, hopefully I’m doing that for someone else.”
In early July of 2010 I graduated from the “Couch to 5k” program and continued to run. 5k, 10k, 15k, and Half Marathon distances became familiar to me over the last half of 2010 as I trained and raced. While I ran further distances, I became increasingly interested in how far I might be able to move my body. On June 4, 2011, I’ll test my ability with the Marathon distance in Newport, OR. Through the Summer and early Fall I’m training for both the Portland Marathon and ultimately the “Autumn Leaves 50/50” Ultramarathon which I will be attempting to run 50 miles in under 11 hours.
4. Please describe how Calorie Count was instrumental to your weight loss.
I use Calorie Count all the time to look up calories and nutrition grades for the food that I am uncertain of. It helps me to learn more about making healthy choices and keeps me honest with my calorie intake. As a lifelong foodie, I’ve been focusing how to prepare healthy food that is still very tasty. My wife, who is making awesome progress with her own weight loss goals, is my primary test subject for new recipes and health foods. Along with tracking my fitness progress, I also share the best foods and my recipes on my blog at http://www.revgum.com
5. What difficulties did you experience losing weight?
In the past I’ve always been so impatient and would give up trying to lose weight at the first sign of difficulty. I’ve learned to view weight loss as a long term goal and to really focus on living a healthy lifestyle first and foremost. Late in the Summer of 2010 I had my first extended weight loss plateau and it was a difficult eye opener for me. Prior to this plateau I had been losing several pounds a week and my confidence had been building and I was feeling really great. One week lead to another, and another, and finally my body let go of another 5 pounds. During those few weeks I had used Calorie Count and other web sites to learn about my basal metabolism and a good target calorie intake for the amount of exercise I was doing. Even though I was eating 6 or sometimes 7 times a day, I was not getting enough calories and I think my body was dipping into starvation mode. As I get closer to my goal weight, the plateaus are more frequent and each pound of weight loss and hard fought. When you enjoy what and how you are eating, and leading an active lifestyle I found that I really can enjoy fighting hard for my health.
6. How long did it take you to see results? When did you realize that you were a success?
I started to see results with weight loss within 3 weeks of starting to eat healthy and go to the gym at lunch time. The first 3 weeks were definitely the most difficult and very easily could have broke me in the past. I didn’t really internalize my success until I had lost 100lbs almost exactly a year after I started. It was a deeply emotional experience for me and gave me pause to really look back and reflect on what I had accomplished. Weight loss and physical fitness had never been something I truly applied myself to in the past, so that year of effort always felt like “something new and different”. Looking back at it now, I couldn’t imagine living the way I used to.
7. How do you prevent relapse?
I continue to enjoy and indulge in the food that I love, but I pay very close attention to moderation. I’ve continued to set goals for myself with regard to running, and the training for these events makes it fairly easy for me to get a high calorie burn many times a week.
8. How has your life changed now that you’ve lost weight?
After having lost over 110lbs, I am more confident and feel like I have much more energy. I walk with my shoulders up and I look people in the eye, I’m not embarrassed to be myself anymore. It was a total surprise to me that I enjoy looking good and dressing nicely. Its been fun to donate all of my old clothes on my way down to my current size.
One side effect that I don’t think is discussed as much is how expensive it can be to have to get rid of your entire wardrobe and buy new clothes that fit right! I went from a 44 pant size and XXL shirt to a 36 pant size and L shirts. There were quite a few pants and XL shirts along the way that just fit too loose and have had to be donated along with all of my old “fat clothes!”
9. How long have you maintained your current weight?
I’m still gradually losing weight, about 3 to 5 pounds a month since about February. I imagine that it might take the rest of the year to get to my goal weight of 200lbs, only time will tell.
10. What five tips do you have for other dieters?
- Indulge: I think the #1 most important part of weight loss is to indulge every now and then. Early on during my weight loss, I would set aside a full day to indulge (in moderation) in the foods that I loved. Think of it as a reward day, and NOT as a “cheat” day. I think you have to get around the mentality of indulgence having the negative feeling of “cheating”, otherwise you’re defeating the discipline you exercise on the other six days a week. The more weight you have to lose, the less it makes a difference when you have a day with moderate indulgence. I’m not talking about slamming a full pizza and a 6 pack of beer, but more like a few slices of pizza and a couple of pints. Maybe just a few cookies, or a piece of cake. When you indulge in your favorite foods, really enjoy every bit of the taste, smell, and how it makes the body feel. Over time, your taste for food will change and you might even find that an indulgence becomes something that is actually fairly healthy (I like pineapple!). Eventually, you will probably find that you don’t care as much for some of the foods you used to love, and your body will probably not feel so good after you’ve eaten them.
- Fiber: Seek out foods that are naturally high(er) in fiber. I doubt you can really “overdo” fiber, and I’ve read that the typical American diet is chronically lacking in fiber. I would try to eat a salad (no Iceberg lettuce, that stuff is garbage) with darker greens before I had the entree for lunch and dinner. Eating a salad first will give your brain some time to register the bulk in your stomach and it will start to fire off the “I’m full” messages before you get
too far into the entree. You likely have more entree than you really need at first, so don’t worry about finishing your plate..next time just take a little bit less. Again, pay attention to what you are eating and how much, you’ll have to continually tweak the portion sizes as you lose weight.
- Eat before you are feeling hungry: If you start to feel hungry, it’s already been too long. To ramp up your metabolism, you should eat and maintain a steady blood glucose level and shouldn’t feel energy spikes and crashes throughout the day. I found that I need to eat every 2 or 3 hours, with the food between meals being around 200 calories. Typically a piece of fruit, handful of nuts, some pretzels, or something along those lines makes for a good snack.
- Invest in your education: Every body is different and everybody needs to learn what works best for their own. Read from many different sources for weight loss, learn about the food you have access to, and educate yourself on portions and ratios of protein, carbohydrate, and fiber. The time investment at first is very high, but as your learn how to fuel your body you will have a good foundation of knowledge to draw from. You have to learn how to eat properly outside of your carefully controlled environment. If you’re out having a meal with friends/family, you need to know what kind of foods are the best choices for you, how much to consume, what to substitute, and how to adjust your food intake for the remainder of the day.
- Do this for yourself: It’s nice to have encouragement from others and validation on your success. First and foremost, you have to want to do this for yourself. You’re the only person who is capable of making the healthy choice that will continually present itself. Is there really any better gift to your friends and family than for you to be healthy and present in their lives? Be an inspiration to others by doing this for yourself.