- Posted December 9, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your 'Aha' weight-loss moments
7 Years to a New Me
I was 23 years old. I weighed 350 pounds, had a nearly 50 inch waist, chest pains, and felt completely hopeless. I had basically never set foot in a gym. Heck, I couldn't run up a flight of steps without getting completely winded. I could go into any number of fast food restaurants where they knew my name and what my order was. I drank 2-3 liters of soda per day. I would estimate my calorie intake at upwards of 5,000 calories daily.
I was also a walking heart attack waiting to happen. I used to have constant chest and jaw pains. The first sign you're in trouble is when your jaw starts aching horribly, and I'd say this was happening to me at least every other day if not more. I can also recall a few times getting up to go to the bathroom and nearly passing out. One night, I blacked out for a brief moment just long enough to slam my head into the wall. Scary? Yes. However, it still didn't get me to wake up and realize I needed to do something.
That moment didn't come until New Years Day, 2006. That's the day my grandfather died suddenly in the car on the way to eat lunch with my mom. He was in his 80s, so they didn't do an autopsy, but he clearly died from a massive heart attack. He had a couple pacemakers and several heart related hospital visits in his older years, so it was just a matter of time before the "big one" hit. That was the day he died, and it was also the day I would tell people I was born for the second time. I would have never made it to 87. Hell, I am not sure I would have made it to 30, and I truly mean that. It was time to change my life before it was too late.
January 15, 2006. Starting weight: 350 pounds. I went out and bought the Atkins Diet book, read it cover to cover, and decided that was how I was going to lose my weight. First off, this is not an endorsement of the Atkins Diet, as my methods and ideologies about dieting have changed very dramatically over the years. However, that was the starting line for me.
I essentially quit it all cold turkey. Junk food. Soda. Everything. I look back now and I'm not sure that was the way to go because I had some pretty killer withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms, you ask? Yes. Junk food is a drug. Soda is a drug. Sugar is a drug. All as powerful as any illegal drug out there. A lot of professionals liken their effect to that of cocaine. I can't argue with them, because I felt awful for several days. My body had literally been running on sugar and bad dietary fat for so long it thought I was killing it when it went away.
However, I persevered. After four or five days, the headaches and craving subsided, but it was a long few days! Then something strange happened. I had more energy than I'd had in years. I slept better. I felt better. Eventually, I even started looking better. I'll skip the boring part about my daily meal routines and just fast forward to August, 2006.
I didn't have one single cheat day, meal, or anything else. I lost 100 pounds almost on the dot (picture 3). I very literally felt and looked like a new man. My pants size went from a 50 down to 38. XXXL shirts became XL shirts. For the first time in years, I had confidence. It was amazing.
However, I was also at a point where the scale wouldn't budge another pound. The problem was, I didn't lift any weights during this time or really do much exercising at all except for walking. I was what you would call "skinny fat," and I literally had no idea what to do in the gym, or really how to even exercise. Thankfully, my friend Tony invited me along to work out with him at his gym and teach me some things about lifting and exercise.
Now picture this. A 6'5", 250 pound man struggling to bench press 15 pound dumbbells. I had zero strength. I dieted away not only a massive amount of body fat, but also a massive amount of lean muscle mass. So here I am, 15 pound dumbbells, struggling for my life to bench press them. A few times, my left arm literally died and if it weren't for Tony I would have had a black eye more than once. I also did my first time on the elliptical at the gym. I did seven minutes. It was the worst seven minutes of my life, and I literally couldn't stand up, sit down, or do anything without leg pain for a week.
I know this all sounds completely terrible, being sore and weak, but it lit a new fire inside of me. 15 pound dumbbells quickly became 25 pound dumbbells, which quickly became 40 pound dumbbells. People started asking me if I had been lifting weights. If it was possible, I felt even better about myself than I did after the initial 100 pounds. I became something I thought I'd never live to see. I became addicted to fitness. That was 2007.
August 2007-August 2011 (picture 4).. It may not look like much. I don't have abs. I don't have hulking muscles. However the guy on the right weighs the exact same amount as the one on the left and instead of bench pressing 15's, he can bench press 80's. I had never been in such good shape, and frankly I would have never thought such a thing was possible. I felt incredible, and wanted everyone to feel as amazing as I did.
It was about this time I started thinking about becoming a personal trainer. I had a wealth of knowledge I had acquired through Tony (I can't thank him enough), reading countless books and articles, and through my own trial and error. I wanted to share this with people and help them achieve the goals like I never imagined I would reach. So I asked my dad to help me pay for the program to get certified, and in early 2012, I got certified through the National Federation of Professional Trainers.
This is me. Right now (picture 5), as I'm typing this. I'm in the best not just shape of my life, but in the best HEALTH of my life, both inside and out. Eight years ago, I never would have imagined I'd have my own personal training business, fitness website, and be doing something I love on a daily basis. I wake up every day happy to go to work, and I literally get to work out like it's my job, because it is!
However, had I never got off the couch and applied myself to this thing, I truly fear I may not be here to write this. You have to quit saying "tomorrow." Eventually, and unfortunately, there may not be a tomorrow for a lot of people because they didn't say enough is enough. You owe it to yourself, your family, and your friends to be the best you you can be. Are you ready? Get out there and do it!