“Like many other accounts of weight loss, I was overweight for most of my teens and up until my early twenties. I was aware of it and was ashamed of it. For years. At various points over my life I had tried many times to lose weight; attending Weightwatchers, getting gym memberships, trying to eat better. I tried it all.
‘Nothing worked.’ That’s what I told myself. Following every failure was a reassuring yet self-defeatist voice telling me that it wasn’t my fault and that nothing worked. I fed myself that excuse for years and years.
As I got older I started to notice how hard everyday activities were. Walking up stairs would leave me short of breath, walking the short distance to the shops would have me breaking out in a sweat, walking around at work left me incredibly tired. My social life consisted of drinking heavily. My days off were spent at home watching TV or playing video games. I hated that and hated myself. I hated that I drove a quarter of a mile to the shops instead of walking, I hated that my social activities almost exclusively took place in a pub, I hated my clothes were old and mismatched because I couldn’t fit into new clothes. At home my diet was my worst enemy. I ate portions that were fit for two or three people. Most of it consisted of heavy carbohydrates, fatty foods, fried foods and sweet, sugary foods. It was all comfort food all the time.
I felt awful. Every second of every day was miserable. It wasn’t until the tail end of 2016 that I started to join the dots. Everything I did, everything I ate, every bit of physical inactivity had created the person I was. I finally realized that it was all my fault. I knew that it was down to me to change it. Thinking back to the stories of other people’s weight loss it hit me like a freight train; weight loss wasn’t something that happened to people, it was something that people achieved.
I picked January 2, 2017, as the day I sorted myself out. I knew I had to take grand step forward into the unknown. If I took a step back, staying where I was, I knew I wasn’t going to change. I knew what was waiting for me in familiar territory; obesity, unhappiness and a likely early grave. By stepping forward, I had no idea what was there. Success? Hopefully. Failure? Maybe. I wouldn’t know if I didn’t try.
To begin to change, I started eating properly. I knew that this was the most important factor. Initially, I quit the bad diet cold turkey. I cut out the fatty foods, the sugary foods and all the foods that I used to make me this way. Over time I developed a better understanding of food, coming to realize that moderation was the key to a successful diet. My past failures had come from caving from the pressure of temptation. I came to understand that no one food alone makes you put on weight. Quantity and lack of moderation puts on weight.
Alongside learning how to build and maintain a healthy diet, I made sure I got plenty of regular exercise. Initially I started walking a few times a week. Walking before and after work turned into walking to and from work. Very soon I was doing long, multiple hour walks. By June I was running. Like my walking regime, I started with small runs. Initially I was walking a mile, running half a mile, walking a mile and then running the final half mile. Soon enough I was able to run a mile, then two, then three. Running very quickly became my primary source of exercise. Historically, I’d always despised running but here I found myself beginning to develop a passion for it. This newly discovered passion drove me to go harder and faster. I was running for miles on end and I loved that I was doing it.
By October 2017 I had finally hit my weight goal. I had dropped from 304 pounds to a healthy 185 pounds. I’d achieved my first real goal in life, but I knew that this wasn’t over and more importantly, it never will be. My next goal was to be able to maintain this weight. This meant adjusting my diet and my exercise regime accordingly. In many ways it was challenging. Where I had restricted myself from eating a certain amount every day for so long, I was now having to eat a little bit more. The trick with this in particular was to eat more, but keep it healthy – don’t find one quick fix to fill the new gap in the maintenance diet. Next was cutting down on the exercise somewhat. Rather than running six miles a day, I now started to run six miles every other day or run three miles a day.
With all of this change I found the person I used to be was a distant memory, now replaced by someone disciplined, confident, active and most importantly; someone happy.
As of March 2018, I’ve kept the weight off and have kept to my weight goal. My diet remains healthy and I still love running. I am now a member of a gym, working on the rest of my body to improve my general fitness, further improve my wellbeing and to vary my exercise. Roughly halfway through this self-improvisation process I swore to myself that I wouldn’t think of this as a journey. Journeys end. I knew that this achievement shouldn’t and couldn’t end, not if I wanted to continue being happy. Although I have achieved so much already, I have learned so much and continue to do so. I have good days and I have bad days. One of my key lessons was that one, two or even a score of bad days doesn’t need to end your progress. All you have to do is get back in the saddle and move forward.”
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