Today marks the three year anniversary of when I decided to do something about my poor health and get the help that I needed. It took me around 8 months of working with a personal trainer to lose 70 pounds. I weaned myself off of the personal trainer and managed to maintain my weight loss ever since.
I don't mean to get too proud of my accomplishment, but I do like to celebrate success, and for me, maintenance is success. My hope is that my own journey can inspire others who might be struggling. Especially those who are telling themselves that it's too late or they are too old. I started my journey at the age of 49 and in one month I will celebrate my 52nd birthday. Today I am leaner and stronger than I was 30 years ago.
For those of you who haven't heard my story, it isn't anything spectacular. I'm just a normal guy who put on weight gradually over a period of 30 years, with a couple of brief bouts of quick weight loss and regain. But when I was 49 I was comfortably numb. No one was pointing out my obesity and telling me to change. I had a comfortable way of living. Sure I was on medications for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heartburn. There was also the incident where I couldn't find a suit large enough (size 56) for my daughter's wedding until I sought out a big and tall specialty store. And I couldn't see my feet when I looked down. And a host of other things that crept up on me that I didn't really notice much.
Then my wife started getting nervous about my snoring and said that I seemed to have trouble breathing at night. I went to the doctor who ordered a sleep test and was diagnosed with sleep apnea. The recommendation was to get an oxygen machine to use at night. I then saw a vision of myself as a fat guy who had to use an oxygen machine to keep himself alive at night. Was that how I wanted the rest of my life to go? Was I that guy? The medical equipment company began to call me about renting the oxygen machine, but I couldn't bear to answer the phone. I knew I needed help but knew I lacked knowledge of exactly how to achieve better help. So out of desperation I started working with a personal trainer (Bryce Bean) at a place called Total Health and Fitness. Of course I knew that I needed to eat better and exercise more. But I was looking for accountability, knowledge and support. I had always considered personal trainers as a luxury for the rich. But when I compared the cost of a personal trainer to the cost of being overweight and unhealthy for the rest of my life, the investment of a few months was well worth it. He was able to get me going, set goals, track progress, educate me on how to exercise and eat right, and give me some accountability. And since I was spending some hard-earned money on the service, I decided to commit totally to whatever he told me to do - if I failed or made slow progress I didn't want it to be because I was weak. So for around 8 months I was able to consistently lose about 2 pounds a week. To the point where I became one of their success stories, a proud moment for me.
Believe it or not, losing the weight was only half the battle. Then I was in this strange state where I felt like a stranger in my own skin. I bought new clothes...lots of them, as my wife will attest. I got rid of all my old clothes and committed to never needing them. I started this blog. I became a host of the Men's Health 52-day Challenge. I listened to health and fitness podcasts daily. I strength trained and did cardio workouts every week day religiously. I continued to eat healthy. I participated in online weight loss forums. Also a number of other tactics, all aimed at ensuring that I would never put the weight back on. And it all worked, mostly.
A course correction
I track my weight and body fat on a regular basis, so a few months ago I noticed that even though I had managed to keep off most of the weight, gradually I had put back on about 20 pounds. This presented a bit of a psychological challenge to me. I knew how to lose weight, I had done it before. But my motivation to become more serious, make new goals and get back into the game was weak. I began to doubt my ability and resolve. What kind of fitness and weight loss blogger doesn't know how to tackle a 20 pound weight loss regimen?
So I created a 4 month plan for myself where I set a goal to lose 20 pounds and 4% body fat. I called it my "High Tech Weight Loss" plan just because I was pretty geeky in terms of the tools I used to monitor and track my progress. But it basically boiled down to tracking the foods and calories I was eating to ensure that there was a deficit that would lead towards a one pound a week weight loss. I'm still doing my program, but so far it's been great to be back on the bandwagon and in 10 weeks I have lost 10 pounds, so despite all the inaccuracies of measuring food consumption and calorie expenditure it's been working amazingly well. Read all about it and my weekly updates in this blog post.
Then and now
Weight: Before (295), Now (225)
Body Fat: Before (36%), Now (16%)
Pants Size: Before (46), Now (36)
Health Conditions: Before (High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Sleep Apnea, Heartburn), Now (None)
I'm still enjoying my journey, creating new goals and achieving new results. And I plan to keep it up as long as I am able.