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    Posted January 13, 2014 by
    Sioux Falls, South Dakota
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your 'Aha' weight-loss moments

    From Bearded Biggie to Bearded Vegan


    In 2008, during the Spring semester of my senior year of college in rural Minnesota, I had come down with a case of pneumonia. During my initial check in at the doctor's office, the nurse conducted the usual routine: measuring my height, taking my temperature, and checking my weight. I was always aware that I was a big guy and while many of my friends loved me regardless, it was always a big insecurity of mine. Therefore, I would purposefully avert my eyes when I would step on a scale. However, during this particular visit, the nurse said my weight out loud. "370 pounds." I was shocked. I was completely unaware of how my weight had gotten so out of control. Although hearing that large number was both scary and somewhat humiliating, it was the wake up call that I needed.


    After graduation, I began working on my Masters of English at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. I lived on campus in graduate housing and my apartment was roughly 1/2 a mile from the building in which I taught and had classes. Since I could basically see the building from my apartment it just made sense to me to walk to class, something I had to do about two to three times a day. Unbeknownst to me, I was walking up to two to three miles a day. This, paired with a new, healthier set of eating habits (no more cafeteria food), began to set the wheels in motion for my weight loss. I remember dropping two pant sizes during the month of October and being absolutely thrilled. Although I was spending more money on new clothes each month, I was noticing a healthier and happier me.


    This weight loss continued during my graduate career and took a new turn when I was chosen to teach at the American College of Norway in Moss, Norway in 2010. During my 4 1/2 month stay there, I lost 35 pounds. This was largely due to the fact that I walked to most places and because of the food I was choosing to eat. Norway has strict food laws, resulting in a surplus of healthier foods. When I came back to the States, I knew that I would need to change my diet if I wanted to continue with my weight loss ambitions.


    Over the next three years, I became more active and took up running. My wife (who was my fiance then) and I decided to try a pescetarian diet where we ate fish, along with fruits and veggies, but no red meat or chicken. This spurred my weight loss even further and the results were very recognizable. I would run into friends from my early college days and they wouldn't recognize me.


    By the Fall of 2013 I had lost 140 pounds. I ran my very first 5K earlier that summer with my wife by my side and I was the happiest that I had ever been. I went from a size 52 pants to a 36 and from a 4XL shirt to a Large. Currently, I have taken up fat biking and my wife and I are both vegan. My weight loss experience has been incredibly enlightening for me. It has exposed me to new and exciting experiences and challenges that I never dreamed I could accomplish. It has also made me more aware of who I am and who I want to be. Chances are I'll never see the nurse who uttered my weight out loud that day, but to her I owe great thanks.

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