After scrolling through a series of photographs, I came across one with me in it. Having realized that I almost failed to recognize myself, nearly asking, “Who is that fat guy?” I became painfully aware of what had happened to me.
To put this kindly; I was overweight. My knees hurt and my ankles were bad as well. My face was rounded and bloated. My stomach was round too and the tattoo of an Asian princess on my lower rib and across my stomach had gained enough weight that she no longer resembled an Asian princess. Instead, she looked more like a pudgy Sumo wrestler with fat cheeks.
Effective May 1st 2016, I decided to make a sharp turn and change my direction. Along the way, I had to learn more about myself. In order to understand my eating habits, I had to learn about my triggers. I had to learn why I ate the way I did. What was going on at the time? How was I feeling and why was I eating this way?
Was I eating in response to something? Was I eating out of pride? What was I doing at the times when I ate most? Learning the answers to these questions was constructive in the sense that it shed light and led to a productive understanding about my behavior and emotions.
After seeing a photograph and realizing the weight gain; after feeling an ultimate sense of disgust about myself and my appearance; I made a clear and conscious decision that I never want to look or feel this way again.
After realizing the things I sought as a means of comfort and while coming to the realization that I ate in a compulsive, and almost mindless way, I established the fact that I needed to treat food that same as I treat addiction. As a result, I set new goals for myself.
To reach these goals, I had to look at the details of my daily routine. I reviewed my choices in meals and traced the times when I ate in binges, eating excessive amounts of food, and then rationalizing the reasons behind my meals.
I ate the same as I did when my metabolism was my friend and not my enemy. I ate without regard for my internal health—never understanding why I had digestive problems, energy problems, health struggles, posture trouble, and so on.
Food is a social and essential part of life. I continue to believe that food is love. I believe food is love and preparing and sharing a meal with someone is bonding. Mealtime is a warm time in the home. Much of my warmest and fondest memories of my family are centered on big family meals. This makes it difficult sometimes.
Making decisions to change the way we ate is not easy. What would life be like without pizza or pasta? What would life be like without greasy cheeseburgers, huge sandwiches, and above anything else in this world, how could anyone enjoy a meal without bread?
My go-to meals were easy, quick, and filling meals with no substance, no nutritional, or healthy value.
Although, admittedly, I enjoy fast food and that I am a fast food junkie (in recovery), I learned that fast food contributes to laziness, and laziness contributes to complacency, and complacency contributes to a life that falls short of better living.
Standing in front of a mirror, looking over what I had led myself to become; I looked at the size of my neck and jowls; my cheeks were puffed and my eyes were like tiny slits in a bloated, moon-shaped face. I looked at my stomach. I looked aged and tired. More accurately, I looked nothing like myself or the self that I imagined myself to be.
What came next was this: I stopped eating fast foods. I began feeding myself in a way that I deserved to be fed.
I chose to eat good meals with a good nutritional value. Fast foods may taste good, and admittedly, I miss that flavor of certain things and the aroma alone is hard for me to handle, but there is no value to them.
I learned to stay away from white flour and white sugar. These are basic. I stopped drinking soda. I stayed away from heavy, starchy foods, greasy, oily, and carb-fueled meals.
I eat lean proteins, complex carbs, and remain conscious about snacking because snacking is tricky.
Everyone asks the same question. “How’d you do it?”
And here it is. Here’s the secret to weight loss. The secret is there is no secret to losing weight. Burn more calories that taken in, and weight comes off. It’s that simple, right? Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Not for me it wasn’t
What I did was weigh myself in the morning. This is how I started my day and how I held myself accountable. I would often weigh myself after meals to learn how my body responded to different foods. I learned what works best for me. It’s that simple.
Our body is responsive to food. We bloat or retain water. I learned what foods work for me and which foods have my body react in a way that was less beneficial. I stay away from processed food. I keep to a low-carb day. I drink plenty of water (approximately half my body weight in fluid ounces because this is what was suggested) and aside from water, I drink coffee. I am not gluten free, per se, but I am gluten conscious. I stay away from sugary drinks. I found that while yes, I do enjoy the taste of sweets, there are natural foods with a healthy sweet flavor.
I cut down significantly on my dairy. No chips or anything like that; I eat freeze dried fruit to substitute my craving for them.
I choose to eat differently because I made a decision to live and look a certain way. And while dieting is important; dieting is not everything. I also learned that I need to exercise. No more excuses. I needed to walk more, do more, and be more.
I am often asked about weight loss. After dropping down from a size 36 waist that was tight around me and XL shirts with a neck over 17”, I began this trip weighing somewhere around the 215lbs mark. As of now, 55lbs gone, my weight ranges anywhere between 160-164, depending upon the day and meals I choose to eat; my waist is back to what it was when I was 26. I fit in medium sized shirts now. My digestive problems are no longer problems. My knees aren’t in pain all the time and my ankles are better too. My immune system is stronger now, which is a great thing around this time of year. I have been exposed to colds and flu symptoms, but I have not come down with anything. I have more energy. My weight loss and methods to maintain my weight loss have been helpful towards my issues with depression. Instead of complain or dwell—I chose to replace thought with action. Not everyone goes about this the same way. However, this is my life change and this is what I did.
I am often asked or hinted as a suggestion, “You can have cheat days, right?”
I’been told, “You have to give yourself a day to just eat what you want.”
I disagree with this. Same as no one would offer an alcoholic in recovery a beer, or some tasty alcoholic concoction, I think food and diets work the same way. Why tease or tempt myself? Why reconnect with old habits that left me feeling and looking so unhealthy?
It took a long time for me to get over my cravings. I still have them, although, now my cravings are more manageable. I still have urges. I still feel like eating what I want, whenever I want it. But why tease myself? Why give up what I fought so hard for?
My advice to anyone about to embark on this journey, and again, this is just my advice—if you want to lose weight: then do it. Change the foods you eat. And if you tell me, “I just can’t give up pizza, or you come up with some other excuse—then understand this is only an excuse, and no matter what is said to you, suggested or shown, regardless to how simple the math is—you won’t lose weight if you excuse yourself so easily.
I still keep a few of my “Fat” photos around. I keep them so I remember where I was and then I realize where I am now.
Most important thing to do is stay motivated. Keep hydrated. Feed yourself well and keep yourself healthy.
This is what worked for me.