Growing up, food was a big part of my family. At family gatherings, it was all about the food. Thanksgiving and Christmas were fantastic! I always found it amazing that after 20 people filed through the grand buffet and Grandma's house, it hardly looked touched at all! As a child, both of my parents were large and the fad diets came and went. In middle school, I began to gain weight. I was not active and had no idea what portion control was. I had plenty of friends and was well liked by many people, but I never felt on par with the rest of my friends. I gained weight steadily from middle school through my junior year of college. My inspiration to lose weight came mainly from my father. When I was just 8 years old, he was 39, he survived a dissecting aortic aneurysm. He has since two other open heart surgeries to correct issues relating to the first event. Both of my parents were large and they both have had gastric bypass surgery to lose weight. When I was in high school, I began having chest pains and sought medical help. All I could think about was my dad and I can remember thinking, "I must be having a heart attack." I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with angina resulting from high blood pressure and a fast pulse (tachycardia). The doctor said I needed to get my weight under control. With my personal experience with weight related health scares as well as an extensive family history of diabetes and obesity on both sides of my family, I knew I needed to change my life. I was in my junior year of college and I weighed a staggering 355 pounds. I wore a 3x shirt and a size 48 pants. I started going to the gym and doing the elliptical for about 10 minutes at a time. That was all my knees and joints could handle. I began to track my food intake with myfitnesspal and started calorie counting. I slowly learned to use the app to monitor other aspects of my food intake including protein, carbohydrates, and fats. I slowly increased my workout intensity and motivated my self through music and focusing on my ultimate goal. I knew that at 6 foot 5 inches, I needed to loose a significant amount of weight. I kept up my new eating and exercising lifestyle for nearly 4 months before I saw any results at all. Then, after that 4 month mark, I began seeing results. I began dropping anywhere from 3 to 5 pounds per week. Over the course of 1 year, I had lost 100 pounds and was still losing. I was now running approximately 3 to 5 miles per day 6 days a week and doing 4 to 5 days per week 30 minutes per day of weight training. Finally, after 1.5 years, I had lost 140 pounds just in time for my wedding! I am now holding steady at this weight and I continue to exercise regularly and eat with my new habits. I no longer require the use of myfitnesspal as it has taught me how to eat healthy. I am now in a size 34 waist pants and a large shirt. As I made my way to my ultimate goal, one of my main areas of motivation came from knowing that I wanted to be around to live a long and happy life with my wife and my future children. I enjoy my new active lifestyle. If I had to give some advice to someone out there that needs help, but doesn't have the motivation to make that leap forward, I would just say that it takes baby steps. You can't just get off the couch and run a marathon. You also can't go from eating a double quarter pounder to lemon salmon and asparagus overnight either. If you take it slow and steady and be persistent, you will see results. None of these fad diets will ever work (long term). Until your shift your mindset from "being on a diet" to simply "eating healthier", it will never last. The hardest part is staying motivated. Exercise with a friend. Find a community. If I can do it, I know anyone can. There is no magic, I promise you that. It is hard work, but the end reward is so worth it.
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