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    Posted February 24, 2014 by
    Warrington, Pennsylvania
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your 'Aha' weight-loss moments

    Becoming My Own Hero: How cutting out fast food helped me lose 140 pounds in 1 year.


    My name is Dave. Most of my life I have been known as “Big Dave” and I have been over 300 pounds since I was 14 years old. Yes, you read that correctly.

    My "Aha" weight-loss moment came at the end of 2012. I was posting picture from Christmas onto my social media pages.  I could not believe my eyes. "How the hell did I let myself get this fat?" It literally brought me to tears. The fact was,  I hadn't stepped on a scale in well over 2 years… The thought of it terrified me.

    I was fortunate enough to earn a Football scholarship in college and from day on, I struggled to make weight. I would take drastic measures to lower the number on the scale, putting my physical and mental health at risk. At one point I even passed out during a workout due to chronic dehydration and was very close to doing permanent damage to myself, all because of my ongoing battle with the scale. Once my playing days were over, I removed that stressor from my life. The day I graduated, I smashed my scale into pieces and threw it out. I hated that scale. Although today that is helping me succeed (As I still rarely weigh myself and focus on how I look and feel), in 2011, it made me oblivious to just how much weight I was putting on.

    In 1 short year, I had gained 125 pounds… again, you read that correctly.

    Working out 6 hours a day, as a college athlete, can usually offset some poor food choices, but I took poor food choices to a whole new level. I was addicted to fast food. During my time in college I would eat it 4-5 times a week and after college, every single day had AT LEAST 1 meal from a fast food chain. This was killing me, and I didn't even understand why. I thought, "I workout, I can eat this food...  I earned it." Which is why, at the end of 2012, when I saw those pictures, I was so dumfounded. I went to the gym all the time, much more than some of my fit friends, so to look at the weight gain over the course of a year was shocking. Little did I know, it wasn't the gym that was killing me, it was the kitchen… or in my case, the drive through.

    On January 1st 2013 I weighed 465 pounds. 4 years earlier,  I weighed less than 270 pounds. I had gained almost 200 lbs. in 4 years! Something needed to be done.

    I decided to make a change and immediately started doing research. I realized that my biggest issue was my addiction to fast food. So I made the choice to cut it out altogether.  As I am writing this it has been 440 days since my last fast food meal. Fast food wasn't the only thing I cut out. I was also addicted to snacking. I couldn't control myself while eating chips and other snacks. I would eat entire bags of one particular chip brand, (which will remain nameless but was nacho cheese flavored) in 30 minutes. So I cut out unhealthy snacks altogether. I also dropped Soda, sugary drinks, white breads/pastas, and cut down my sugar intake to almost nothing. Yes this seems quite drastic but the changes happened over time, and have made a huge difference in my life. I also picked up some great habits. I started running… well Jogging… ok aggressively walking. I also began eating very clean. I chose to follow a standardized meal routine. I would basally eat the same healthy meal for dinner 6 days a week, and switch it up every week. This helped me to stay focused. When I let myself choose my meals, I usually made the wrong choice. So I eliminated that issue.

    I also picked up a few secret weapons (That aren't so secret anymore). A meal replacement shake called Shakeology, and a workout program called Insanity, both of which are products of Beachbody. In March of 2013, I took on the Insanity Challenge, and lost 55 lbs in 63 days. I realized after a year of going to the gym and doing the same old, tired routine just wasn't enough. I needed someone to push me and on a Social Worker's salary, I couldn't afford a personal trainer. So I turned to High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) which is proven to be one of the best ways to lose fat, (2nd only to improving diet) . I chose Shaun T's "Insanity”. This program changed my life, and has given me the opportunity to help others do exactly the same.

    The question I hear the most is, "How did you stay motivated to beat your addiction?" Addiction is everywhere and it is not just reserved to drugs or alcohol. I was addicted to bad food, and it was killing me just as fast as the more mainstream addictions. The only difference was, there are no warning labels on a double cheeseburger;  just commercials and billboards, and newspaper ads reminding me how good it tastes. My addiction was incredibly hard to kick because I couldn't escape it. I would have to move to the North Pole to get away from fast food ads. To be honest, I don't believe you ever beat an addiction. I don't think I beat mine; I simply replaced it with something better. In order to cut out fast food, I needed to learn about it. I had to find out what I was eating, and what it was actually doing to me. I was eating this stuff every day, sometimes twice a day, and I had no idea what it was. It said chicken on the box so I took them for their word. After doing some research I quickly realized I was poisoning myself with this food. Once you truly understand how bad something is for you, it becomes much easier to remove. I replaced my obsession with fast food, with an obsession for knowledge, and keeping myself immersed in health blogs and podcasts allowed for me to stay focused on my goals. My not-so-secret weapon, Shakeology, calmed my cravings and gave me the nutrition I needed to get through the day full of energy, rather than full of crap food.

    Four months into my journey I had lost around 65 pounds and people were beginning to take notice. I became a Motivational coach and began helping others work towards their goals. This has been  the biggest motivator for me. Changing my life is great, but helping others change theirs has become my calling. It's why I am here. I used to think I was destined to play in the NFL and when that goal faded, I became incredibly lost, and even more depressed. I turned to food and it nearly killed me. But once I began helping others I quickly realized, this was why I was put on this earth. To this day, I never take that blessing for granted. I have helped over 300 people in the past year lose hundreds of pounds, all while continuing my journey.  It doesn’t get much better than that.

    In 2013 I lost 140 lbs. I ran in a 5K mud race. I kicked 2 addictions and I helped over 300 people begin their own journeys.  I became my own hero.

    There is no superman. If you want to be saved you have to do it yourself. You have to become your own hero, because no one else is going to do it for you. But if you take responsibility for your health, and you overcome all of the circumstances that you think are holding you back, becoming your own hero is the most empowering thing you could ever do. Excuses are everywhere, and they are so incredibly easy to make. But nothing improves self-esteem like doing something really, REALLY hard. Making a complete lifestyle change is certainly really, REALLY hard. But it's also really worth it.

    2013 was my year. Will 2014 be yours? Make the decision to change, and then work every single day to make it happen. Throw your scale in the trash and focus on how you look and feel. You're not a high school wrestler; you don't have to "make weight". So why are we so obsessed with the scale? Do the research, make the changes gradually, and do something hard. Run a marathon, Do a high intensity workout program like Insanity, go Paleo… anything that is healthy and will test you. Get your self-respect back. You deserve it.


    I challenge you to become your own hero. You will never regret this journey


    More Photos: http://imgur.com/a/84uhM#0


    For More Motivation: http://www.youtube.com/elonfootball73

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