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    Posted July 23, 2014 by
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your 'Aha' weight-loss moments

    The Roach-Infested Apartment Diet

    My moment was the result of a long process. I had been in a relationship that I was not happy in, but one of the good things it did for me is to teach me that vegetables aren't evil. My partner's insistence on eating them at meals, and my interest in watching the Food Network show Good Eats, taught me better ways to cook vegetables so that I could tolerate them. I still wasn't enjoying them, but as time went on, I slowly added small amounts of them into my food.

    Nevertheless, I was at my highest weight when we broke up, at around 205 pounds. For a guy with no discernible muscle mass, at 5'9", that was a lot.

    Sadly, I had been overweight almost as long as I could remember. I first gained weight when I was 10 - the result of dropping out of karate (which took away my main outlet for calories) and discovering buttery crackers and spray cheese. These became my go-to meal and snack for years. When I started 4th grade, I could run a mile in 8.5 minutes. When I finished 4th grade, it was over 12 minutes.

    This weight problem had caused many other problems in my life, including relentless torment from bullies at my school and an inability to exercise when I wanted to (such as when I fell in love with snow skiing). Then, in the year or two leading up to my diet, I was diagnosed as hypertensive, at only 29.

    So then, during my 31st year, several things happened at once - I lost my job of 9 years due to layoffs, I broke up with my girlfriend, with whom I had been living, and I was unable to collect unemployment due to the fact that right when I lost my job I moved to California with her. When I moved back to Oklahoma, I got a tiny apartment, in an area I thought would be pretty good, despite its low cost.

    I decided that since I was jobless and needing to save money, I would begin cooking all of my own food. When roaches and later rats began showing up in my kitchen, I started taking care of things better, keeping the kitchen clean and learning to organize my food and keep it properly stored. Both infestations cleared themselves up. Since I was cooking for myself, I was able to slowly incorporate more and more vegetables, and slowly reduce the amount of unhealthy snacks I was eating. I forced myself to learn to eat yogurt (which I had previously hated) and made that my go-to snack when I needed something between meals.

    I knew that I wanted to lose weight, but I was more focused with trying to figure out how to eat healthy. I knew that dieting was not a temporary thing, but a lifestyle change.

    By doing it slowly, by removing one thing at a time, etc., I was able to lose 60 pounds. I began working out, although I never became addicted to it like some people seem to be. Despite getting stronger (running longer distances, doing more pushups and pullups), I never gained any more weight - my weight stayed stagnant at 145. I considered this a victory, as it must mean that fat was being replaced with muscle.

    And now I also know that the yogurt I was eating was unhealthy because of all its sugar, and the rice I was eating was unhealthy because of all its empty carbs. I eat brown rice and whole grain breads for my carbs now, and have eliminated almost all sugars (except for those naturally occurring in the whole fruits and vegetables I eat). I am getting thinner slowly, while maintaining my weight, and I feel healthier than I've felt in my whole life.

    I'm also learning to cook foods that are hyper-healthy, full of whole grains and lacking sugar. I'm trying to teach others in my life how to cook these things, and posting successful recipes online for folks to share. I can only hope that my story can help my friends who are overweight to find healthier lifestyles as well.
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