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People who have met me over the last few years may not realize that, when I was in my mid 20s, I looked like a completely different person. My obesity story begins this way: at a height of 6 feet and weight hovering around 265 pounds, I had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 36 and was heading down a dangerous health road if I didn’t pull my car over to the shoulder and unload some weight from my trunk – literally.
My weight loss story could have started with a trip to the store to buy protein shakes, a membership at the neighborhood gym, or even something more drastic – gastric bypass surgery.
However, a series of small, pronounced actions helped me get closer to my over-arching goals.
My Story: Why I Decided Obesity Will No Longer Define My Life
Just after turning 22 years old, I began noticing it was getting harder to put on the pants and shirts I had worn only a few months earlier. This realization came after 3 or 4 years of living a relatively sedentary lifestyle brought on by academic studies, spending too much time behind the computer, and no longer getting outdoors to exercise like I did when I was a kid.
While some people may find it hard to believe that one can balloon from 190 to 265 pounds without noticing, I am sad to say it is true – I never noticed. The massive weight increase transpired over the course of a few years, and during that time I had grown somewhat oblivious to my health as I focused on school and my writing endeavors.
I didn’t even realize that I was so overweight until one day I was delivering trash from my apartment to the receptacle about 50 yards from my front door during a summer afternoon and discovered that I had never felt so exhausted handling as physically simple a task as carrying a ten-pound bag of household trash about 150 feet in the Florida heat that I had spent all my life in.
How My Story Goes From Obesity To Weight Loss Triumph
I had made a decision to start trying to ease my weight down by cutting out of my menu the very items I think helped bulk me up so quickly in the first place, such as double cheeseburgers, frozen convenience foods, and other types of food that are really high on empty calories, low on overall nutritional value, and sure to give me a quick trip to diabetes land.
For me, cutting out these foods didn’t happen overnight, though I know a lot of people do resort to cold-turkey techniques when trimming the fat from their meals – and their guts. Instead, I opted for an approach that has worked better for me in the past in a lot of cases, and that was progressive improvement toward my goal.
As I was 22, time was on my side, too. Still, I was already into adulthood and not getting any younger, so I knew I had to act fast if I were to avoid going into middle age down the road with a spare tire around my waist.
So, I had to do much more than just start cutting back on foods of poor nutritional quality. I also had to bump up my intake of foods that are healthy – such as vegetables and fruits (of which I always aimed for eating five servings of total, each day).
I also started drinking at least 8 full glasses of water each day, which replaced a good portion of my soda intake. While I did drink fruit juices, namely orange juice (which has about equal the amount of sugar as soda), it at least has much more nutritional benefit than soda.
In actuality, I never actually stopped eating any particular food. I still had my cake (and ate it, too – literally!), but I simply stopped eating as much of the unhealthy food as I used to. Really, I took the “moderation is key” approach to health and made lifestyle changes that I knew I could sustain even after I had lost the excess weight.
• Walking, biking, and/or swimming at least 30 minute to 1 hour a day, 5 days a week
• Limiting my soda intake to about 12 ounces a day
• Getting up from my computer every 30 minutes to stretch and walk
• Trying to maintain a consistent wake-up and bed time each and every day
• Allowing myself no more than about 1 hour of dedicated TV time every day
• Taking the stairs instead of an elevator and parking far from a storefront when the weather permits
• Never smoking anything or doing drugs (haven’t touched these things and never will)
Of course, this was my personal path to success. Everybody is unique, and your metabolic needs will be different from mine, so I suggest you talk to your doctor before starting any type of weight loss routine. But, I do hope you find inspiration in my story, and I wish you all the best in losing weight and living a healthy life!
Here are some links you may want to check out in your quest to lose weight and get healthy:
- Choose My Plate – United States government guidelines for nutrition and healthy eating habits
- Weight Watchers – One of the oldest, most successful, and moderate weight loss programs in the United States
- Better Health Channel: 10 Tips to Plan Your Exercise – Some common-sense approaches for making daily exercise an obtainable goal
- Fit Day Weight Loss & Diet Tracker – A free log you can use to monitor your improvement and record your success
I want everyone to live their best life… for as long as possible. So I often write about the health screenings that we all should be getting — to help catch potential health issues early. (Yes, I get my screenings too.) I also share my knowledge and experience with specific health problems that I am personally familiar with.