- Posted July 25, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your 'Aha' weight-loss moments
Setting a Goal For Life
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
My name is Yusuke, and this is a story about how I changed my life around by setting a goal for life.
I have been overweight all of my life. Just like everyone else, I have tried every type of dieting plan as well as have been in and out of gyms (continuing to pay the membership for years after I stopped going). We all set those weight goals, but most (including myself), fall short and rebound.
In 2006, my wife and I had our daughter Sara. As she got older, chasing after her was a struggle, both mentally and physically. I would often time be so out of breath that I would almost pass out.
In 2010 at the age of 37, my weight was at its heaviest. I was slightly over 270 lbs. At 5'10", I was carrying around a lot of weight. I hated how I felt, how my body looked, and who I had become. I was never a social butterfly; however, being self-conscious led to being anti-social. At one point, I did not even want to leave the house and always had the curtains over the windows. I was depressed. Depression led to eating, eating led to weight gain, being overweight led to mental and physical breakdowns. I was so self-conscious that I would avoid going to the doctors for any illness, since I did not want them pegging my weight as the reason. Yes, denial... A perpetual negative cycle would only stop at death.
One day around Christmas time of 2010, something snapped. I was sick and tired of who I was, how I looked, and who I have not become. Gradual changes or short-term diet / workout plans simply were not effective for me. The probability of rebound was too high. I decided that a more drastic change was necessary. Having read up on diet plans in the past, I decided to focus on drastically cutting down on sugar and carbohydrate intake. I chose to keep one day a week (usually Saturdays) as my cheat day where I could eat/drink whatever I wanted. You can’t keep pushing your body to the extreme without having a release valve. For the rest of the six days (Sunday through Friday), I would be on a strict no sugar and carbohydrate diet. My wife, Megumi, was quite skeptical at this point. Rightfully so since in the past, my commitment to weight loss and fitness usually did not last more than several months at a time.
For a couple of months, the feeling of withdrawal was intense. It was quite the struggle to not reach for that burger, pizza, pasta, donut, cookie, candy bar, potato chips, caramel latte, let alone rice and bread. After awhile though, my body stopped craving them. My stomach size also started to shrink. Both of these conditions led to craving less unhealthy foods as well as eating smaller portions, even on cheat days. Slowly but surely, I was rewarded with weight loss and increased energy. At that point, I knew this was the right path to take.
I decided to set a goal. A goal for life. I was not only going to lose weight by way of clean eating, but I will also be physically fit for the rest of my life. Again, a drastic change and huge commitment for me. Crazy enough, it worked...
In 2011, I started lifting weights at the gym three-week days a week before work. It felt quite awkward at first but after awhile, I was feeling stronger and constantly having more energy. I rewarded myself by adding treadmill runs for the other two-week days. Running for me is just like the jokes. Unless I was being chased by a bear or an axe murderer, it was never something I did. Throughout the year, I stuck to the diet plan as well as my five days of weight lifting and running. By the end of 2011, I lost 81 lbs, was much stronger, and simply felt great. Therefore, I decided to reward myself again...
In 2012, I decided that running on a treadmill was simply not for me. I just felt like a hamster on a wheel. The only thing missing was a water bottle attached to the machine that one could gnaw on as they ran. One day at the office, a good friend Anja gave me great advice. Anja has been running for many years and is a very active and fit person. I look up to her as my mentor through my journey and she has given me wonderful advice on fitness and nutrition along the way. She strongly suggested that I switch from treadmills to running outdoors. 'We live in Colorado, one of the most beautiful states with many trails, and you need to take advantage of it!' she says. One day I decided no more treadmill, and only running outdoors. Another drastic change. Not only did it work, I was hooked.
I continued with the diet, three days of weight lifting at the gym, and two days of running outdoors. I, FELT, AWESOME! By this time, my wife was fully convinced that I was dedicated and committed to this life change. She was there every step of the way to support me through this journey, and I very much appreciated it. By the end of 2012, I not only lost 94 lbs from the start, but I also ran 10 different races that varied from 5km to 10km in distance. I was over the moon with my progress. So naturally, I rewarded myself again with more running and weight lifting.
In 2013, I took the running to a higher level. I joined a local running team referred by a good friend Yoko, who is a diehard avid runner. Yoko taught me what determination is, by running a trail half-marathon with a broken foot. She is a true warrior! Thanks to the team and their support, I not only started running longer distances, but I now had friends to run with. It definitely made the runs much more fun. I now ran on Saturdays with the team, and went straight to the gym for my fourth weight lifting session of the week. I also started to focus part of my weight lifting days to include calisthenics (body weight exercises). I also decided to run in ANY weather condition Colorado threw at me, except for when there was lightening. I ran on hot, cold, windy, rainy, snowy, and freezing days. Even when we had an epic flood in Boulder, I still ran. That evening, all roads out of the city were shut down, so I couldn't drive home. I stayed at a hotel nearby my office, and ran the next morning simply because it was my running day. And let me tell you... running in the mountains in a foot of snow with your hair completely covered in snow and your eyebrows all iced up, is such an incredibly liberating feeling! I continued with my diet but I shifted more into maintenance mode where I would intake more carbohydrates. I weight lifted four days a week and ran three days a week. I was having so much fun exercising and seeing the progress.
At the end of 2013, I thought, why should I be the only one to have this much fun? I suggested to my wife Megumi and my daughter Sara that we should have a weekly family activity. We could do short runs around the neighborhood on Sunday mornings. It took some coercing at first (i.e. good food following the runs); however, they started to enjoy and look forward to this weekly event as much as I did. One mile became two, and soon my daughter was regularly walking and running three miles (5km). Seeing my daughter run and smile with excitement was such a wonderful feeling. So yes, you guessed it. Once again, I decided to reward myself.
In March 2014, I decided to enter my daughter and me together in a short four-mile race in Denver. She was nervous, especially since her longest running distance was only three miles. At seven years old, she not only entered her first race ever, but she killed it with a 12min 39sec per mile pace, never stopping once! When we crossed the finish line, she had the biggest smile, and at that moment, I knew she was hooked. Two months later in May, we entered the famous Bolder Boulder 10km race together, and she not only destroyed her longest distance record, but she also ran it non-stop with a 12min 3sec per mile pace. I was so proud of what she accomplished, and I could see a boost in her confidence level.
Now, my daughter and I go on a six mile run every Sunday, and we have a nice father daughter moment as we run. Last week, she tells me how much she enjoys running with me and asks if she could go to the gym with me. Priceless...
As of July this year, I am down to 168 lbs (lost 102 lbs) and I am close to my ideal fitness level. I ran a half marathon in Denver in May, and I will be entering my first sprint triathlon in September. I am happy with my achievements; however, being able to share this wonderful experience with my daughter has been the most rewarding part of this life changing journey.
Last but not least, I wanted to give a shout out to my wife Megumi. I cannot thank her enough for the support and encouragement she gave me throughout my journey so far. She now joins me in eating smaller portions, even more healthy foods, and runs like a maniac on Sundays!
Best of all, since I set a goal for life, I cannot wait to see what challenges lie ahead of us! Thank you for reading my story.