I ended Part 1
with the cliffhanger/teaser that my path would soon change. And boy did it. By the way, you have yet to see me at my heaviest.
It was not until I was 22 years old that I finally decided to do something about the way I looked and ate. Coincidentally, a friend of mine from work decided that he wanted to lose some weight and asked if I wanted to join him.
Now, prior to this I had at times “tried” to lose weight, but I was not really serious about it and I did not have a plan. So that usually lasted a week or so at best.
This time was different. This time, I was ready to start making some changes. I mentioned my defining moment, and this was it. There were no angels or church bells ringing through my ears, but something in my head clicked.
I was better than this, I deserved better. This was my first baby step toward wellness
The Little Known Plan, Called Atkins
My buddy had a plan that he had used to successfully lose weight in the past. It took me no time at all to agree to do this “diet” with him.
The plan was the little known program at the time, called the Atkins Diet. Heard of it? ;-) He explained to me how it worked and I thought, “Wow, this is great. I like to eat meat and cheese and I can handle salads.”
Then he told me that I would need to workout also, again I thought, “Great I have that covered too. My parents have a Nordic Track ski machine. I am all set!”
So, off we went. Both of us set out on our weight loss journey, my starting weight was 260 pounds. At 5-10” tall, you could say I had a bit of a journey ahead of me.
"It's ok, I've got the necessities."
Within a couple short weeks I had worked my way up from a half mile to completing 3 miles on the Nordic Track, 5 days a week, and had already lost a decent chunk of weight. Somewhere in the 10 pound neighborhood.
Things were going well and I was losing more and more each week.
I continued to do only my cardiovascular workout on the Nordic Track, no weight training (more on this in a minute), and was eating a steady diet of a salad with chicken for lunch and two grilled chicken breasts topped with cheddar cheese and salsa for dinner.
Yes, that was it.
I look back now and realize I was essentially starving myself thin. But at the time, I was what you might call ignorant to healthy living in general, and it was working, so I thought I was on the right track.
After about 6 months of this I had lost about 60 pounds. I was pumped. What I didn’t realize is that my body was basically eating away my muscle (in addition to the fat) because of the extremely low calorie level and lack of a weight training program.
Along came Sheila
This was about the time that Sheila and I met and then started dating, after I charmed her with my wit and awesome sideburns. ;-) We began to work out together, which for the first time for me, included weight lifting.
I was so weak from what I had done to my body previously that when I would do bench presses I could only do them with the 45 pound bar...no added weight.
This was the case for all of my muscles. Sheila and I were practically lifting the same weight. Talk about mastering the task of impressing your girlfriend. Yikes. You don’t use it... you lose it. This was a tough lesson learned.
Another thing that changed, at this point, was my diet. This was not an overnight shift by any means. It was a process. Sheila about smacked me in the head when I told her what I had been eating.
I started to introduce a narrow range of veggies, complex carbs, lean protein, and healthy fats into my diet.
At the time, Sheila was following the Weight Watchers Points Program, so I started to “count points” along with her. It is ironic now that we look back and think of how, even then we were STILL eating far too little.
While Weight Watchers certainly has its time and place, and works well for some people, it was not the right fit for Sheila and me. Most times, we would eat “on the diet” during weekdays, and then blow it on weekends.
We still didn’t get it. We still
had so much learning to do.
This is the cycle that I was stuck in through most of my college years. While I was still far less than my heaviest at 260 pounds, I was slowly and consistently putting on a pound here and there.
By the time I finally stop lying to myself and had enough I was clocking in at right around 210 pounds, up from my low of a scrawny-skinny-fat 170 pounds.
The good in all of this, is Sheila and I were on this path together, which is something I am grateful for, as not everyone has this type of support system.
We both wanted a better life. We wanted health and wellness, we were just confused and didn’t know how to go about getting it.
We had both hit our rock bottom and were ready to finally go “all in” and make the changes we needed to make in order to finally achieve our goal.
Along Came Leigh
This was when Sheila threw a Hail Mary pass out and Leigh Peele
caught it. Now, I know that most of you reading this have probably already read Sheila’s story and know how we met Leigh and began training with her.
I don’t want to spend any more time pimping Leigh, because well, I want her head to still be able to fit through doorways, so let’s just leave it as... Leigh kicks some serious fat-loss ass.
Leigh came into our lives at this particular point for a reason. Whether or not you are a believer of fate, the law of attraction, or destiny for that matter, she appeared right when we were ready to finally “listen.”
Up until this point, we couldn’t see what we were doing wrong. We had blinders on, like so many people do.
We knew the basics, and had already laid the foundation ourselves, we just needed someone to teach us how to get our body and metabolism to work with us
, rather than against.
That was about two years ago. Since then, I have shed roughly 40 pounds, going from 210 (pic taken after starting at 203 lbs.) to 170 pounds.
If I had to guess, I would say that my body fat percentage is in the low double digits to near single digits, although I have never had it tested.
Please excuse the undies.
The Importance of Mindset
These days, we are more so focused on living a life of health and wellness, and I think that change in mindset has helped us move through and past much of the baggage that was previously holding us back.
You see, the most impressive aspect for me is not just the weight loss. Remember, I had been there before. But rather, the fact that I lost it, have kept it off, and completely changed my composition overall.
These days, I could realistically bench press or squat my previous overweight self. Something I don’t think I ever would have imagined being able to do.
Being healthy and living well truly involved a mindset shift for me. I now look at food in a whole new light. As mentioned above, I focus on health
, rather than “getting rid of my huge gut,”
like in the past.
Although I do still enjoy food and cooking, I realize now that food is fuel for my body, and is not something that controls me. If I really want to eat something, I eat it, but I am conscious and aware of the give and take that is involved in living a healthy life.
That could mean getting out and being active, putting in a little more time at the gym, or cutting back on another meal later in the day or the following day, if I do choose to indulge on occasion.
I also really cut back on partying, i.e. drinks and munchies. As for fast food, I don’t eat it unless I am travelling and in that situation I get a turkey sub from Subway. In general fast food is something that I prefer not to have.
Honestly, that type of food does not sound appetizing anymore, even though it is what I used to eat all the time. My tastes have changed, and now I instead crave some of my own recipes, turning some of my past favorite recipes into healthier versions.
Living a life of wellness, for me involved some big changes. But it was a process and I didn’t change everything overnight. I think that was a key part of it sticking.
I had to travel the road, learn some lessons, and grow to become the person that I needed to become in order to maintain the body that I have achieved.
I made mistakes along the way, but you know what, those mistakes are the experiences that have made me strong and have taught me my most valuable lessons. What was hard at first, has now become easy, almost second nature.
I am also happy to say that activity is also a huge part of my life again, and one of my goals is to begin pursuing my love of hockey once more.
When I look back at who I was even two years ago, I am grateful for all of the experiences that have helped me to grow into who I am today.
I do not consider myself "finished" with my body, as I think that wellness is not really about reaching one specific destination, but a lifelong process of evolving into a stronger, leaner, more flexible person.
I still have a journey ahead of me, but that is what is most exciting. I have the power to shape my body, and my life in more general terms, into whatever I want
. And that idea is the most powerful of all.