Sometimes when I look back at the recent years and mentally revisit my successes and failures over the years, it’s hard to believe I ever lost 140 lbs. I have days when I expect to wake up, look in the mirror, and see my former obese self looking back at me and then realizing again that I’m not that person anymore.
Today I’m going to tell you what’s worked for me both mentally and physically along my road to success. Here are the five ways I used to help me trim 140 lbs, and dramatically change my life.
In most cases anyone who is overweight doesn’t have a hard time with this part of the process – the dream.
I’m willing to gamble that most of us at one time or another have dreamed, fantasized, or aspired to be something greater not only physically, but in life.
Sadly – For a lot of us the dream remains a dream, forever. This goes beyond weight control issues, it really holds true for everything in life.
Life is short.
Those of us who spend too long in the dream will watch their teens, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s go by. Until it’s too late. Before we know it – We realize we have spent our entire life dreaming, and never taking action.
A lot of us don’t have the knowledge, self-control, perseverance, work ethic, or the ability to self-sacrifice to spark the change that makes our dreams come true (I know I didn’t).
Sometimes we dream so much that the dream itself is all we have, the hope for a better life or a better future. If you were ever like me, you might stare in the mirror and visualize a version of yourself that is 15, 30, 50, even 100 or more pounds lighter.
The dream is important. The dream helps drive you. It helps you visualize what you want and generates a trickle of motivation. Without dreams, we couldn’t condition ourselves to change.
I had the dream for years.
For years I saw a leaner, faster, stronger, healthier version of myself. A version of myself I could be proud of. A version of myself that people would praise and respect. Dreaming was great until I finally came to the grim truth – and the truth gripped me like a vice..
#2: Be Honest
Telling yourself the truth might be the hardest thing anything can ever do. Admitting to yourself that you’re wrong. Coming clean that on some level you failed yourself, and failed your body.
These thoughts hurt. They hurt so damn much.
We as people are self-preserving. We don’t really want to admit our insecurities or our shortcomings. We find blame in things that aren’t truly to blame for our circumstance. Through self-perseverance we try to emotionally and mentally disconnect anything that casts us in a negative light.
Lets face it. It’s hard as hell to admit when we’re wrong.
At the turning point, for the first time in my life I had to have an honest conversation with myself. I had to tell myself that I was personally responsible for my own obesity. I had to admit that it was making poor nutritional choices that put me into the boat I was in. I had to face the music that I was downright lazy about a lot of things.
The few times that I thought I had that magic moment, and was ready to lose weight, I really wasn’t – and I failed.
I had to admit that the effort was half-assed. (maybe even quarter-assed :))
#3: Let Go
In literally every sense of the phrase, I had to teach myself for the first time in my life to let go.
I had to let go of the lifestyle I was holding onto, let go of the people in my life that were holding me back from greatness and I had to let go the fear of failure.
I had to let my mind and my habits stop controlling what I was and who I was.
A lot changed for me in this period of my life. What a lot of people might not tell you is that losing weight and the road to a healthy lifestyle has moments that aren’t very glamorous.
I can tell you (at least in my personal story) a lot of things changed about who I was and not all of them at the time were for the good (although I suppose what is “good” is open to interpretation).
I’m going to be very upfront and tell you that when I went through the type of psychological self-reconditioning it took to completely transform my life and body, it had an enormous fallout in other parts of life both good and for the bad.
Let me tell you a story.
I was with a moderately-to-severely obese girl through the end of high school and into college. We were together when I lost the first 50 pounds and even though I was still “heavy” she became very jealous (and in some ways spiteful) of my accomplishments.
Even though this effect was unintended I think she was insecure that I was starting to get more attention from people. Her own family, friends, and even strangers.
Ultimately I had to break up with her so I could move forward with the direction of my life which didn’t really include the path she was staying on.
I had to let her go.
Another quick story – I worked in a job doing adult foster care for the mentally disabled for a while. The job was relatively easy but also in some respects quite grueling mentally exhausting.
I can’t go into details to respect the privacy of the people I cared for but I can say that it was very unglamorous. The turnover rate was extremely high. I saw people walk in and quit the same day they came in.
The pay was really quite terrible (Around $7.00 an hour) but the barrier to entry was very low they would employ anyone with a willingness to work. In a small town it’s suffice to say I worked with some very, very interesting people.
I’m grateful for the experience but I had a strong desire to be more.
As my dream became a reality I cleaned myself up and began to lose even more weight.
More doors opened!
Whether people realize it or not a lot of obese people (my former self included) are judged in things like job interviews. While I’ve never hired anyone personally I’m willing to bet my last dollar that being in decent shape, attractive, or at least appearing “cleaned up” goes a long way towards career opportunities and virtually all opportunities in life.
This was true for me at least.
I’m not going to say that I got a job based on looks, far from it.
What I’m saying is that the effort and work ethic garnered from the effort of self-improvement that developed naturally as a side effect of fitness propelled me into focusing on education, my skills, and ultimately ushered me into a financially different world. A world that was dramatically different than what I was used to and would eventually have strong impacts to my core values as a person.
Financials aside it’s worth mentioning that the further and further along I got into the transformation that I would eventually receive more attention from the opposite sex. (Big surprise, right?)
It was crazy discovering who was “in my league” (and even still “out of my league”) as I continued to transform.
I had to develop a new type of confidence to co-exist with my new appearance. Some hearts were broken on the path, both mine and others for a lot of reasons but I you think hard enough about it I realized some of those reasons were because the people that I were when we were “happy” together changed dramatically over time as I continued to go down the path of self-development and grew a stronger sense of self, a new set of values, and strengthened emotionally and physically.
I’ll also touch on the subject of basic friendships.
I’m not an antique yet but I can say with some wisdom that the activities you participate in (or choose not to participate in) could potentially have a strong impact on your friendships if you lose a lot of weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
It’s quite possible that a routine of Sunday beer drinking and sports watching could become replaced by a routine of cycling, hiking mountains, and white water rafting. Happy hours can become walks in the park. Friday night partying could become your gym time. Get what I’m saying?
Unfortunately, not everyone is going to be down with your new found interests and sometimes it can be difficult to find a balance when you participate in things that while they are definitely fun, go against the grain of your goals and ambitions.
It’s not uncommon for you to be misunderstood during this phase I like to call, “the letting go process“.
Somewhere along the way I can guarantee the people in your life will begin to comment that you’ve lost weight and are looking good (the positive side).
On the flip side, some of you might have family telling you that what you are doing is unhealthy. You may also even have friends use extreme words like, “obsessed” to describe your new passion for a healthy lifestyle.
This is the difficult and unglamorous side of losing weight, but it’s worth telling you about. I would guess a few people reading this story can relate to this in some ways. (I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below this post if you have one!)
The bottom line? You may upset some family. You might lose some friends. You may face challenges with a significant other. Your career situation could change.
I can’t tell the future of course, you may encounter none of these. I felt obligated to share with you some of the changes that happened to me and I’ve heard of the same things happening to people I’ve become friends with.
All of the above being said – I can honestly say I’m thankful for all of the changes I went through.
I built a social circle of fantastic and supportive friends.
I moved out of state (From Michigan) to the Washington D.C. metro area and got an absolutely amazing job.
I met a beautiful and wonderful girl that just recently moved in with me. Her name is Megan.
I can say that more now than ever I truly love my life, how’s it changed, what I’ve become, and who I’ve met along the way.
#4: Finding Inspiration
The great thing about the internet is that its chock full of wonderful inspirations around every corner. Here is one of my favorite forums where people regularly post their fat loss transformations.
Honestly, I didn’t even know what kind of resources existed when I first went down the road to change.
It would take someone very close to me (my best friend) to become a proverbial northern star to spark what would be an invaluable source of information and inspiration.
Let me introduce you to Brian.
Brian was sort of a goofy and fun loving guy. We met and became close in middle school when we joined the wrestling team and traveled together. He was a little below my weight class but he was pretty large for his age. If I remember right, I was 12 at 205 pounds and he was 11 at around 185.
Brian and I would go on to be in band class together (We both played trumpet!).
We were both competitive, and we would eventually sit together as the best two trumpet players in our class. We competed in a few ensembles and would even play at the local Veteran’s club called AMVETS and do some good cause events for the community, like playing taps for veteran memorials.
We hung out a lot – and he got very good at sports. He would go on to wrestle at state competitions and get several awards for excelling in football.
Unfortunately, he ended gaining quite a bit of weight. While I ended up over 300 pounds he got up to around 265 (Which was pretty heavy for him.)
When he finished high school and went on to college I stayed in close contact with Brian.
He went on to get a personal trainer named Jason, lose 50 pounds, and actually decided to get into (of all things) bodybuilding.
This was around 2006-2007.
Bodybuilding. At the time, I thought it was the most obscure, bizarre, and backwards concept imaginable and that only people like Arnold Schwarzenegger did that.
I was so enthralled with his progress though that I had to know what he did.
I had so many questions.
He would go on to tell me all about his diet, his weight training and cardio routines, and what supplements he took.
I was instantly hooked!
I’m not sure if it was because it was the first time in my life I saw someone make that sort of transformation or because he was my friend and he did it.
Whatever it was, I knew it worked and I wanted to know more.
(I never became a bodybuilder and never really wanted to, but I wanted to know how it worked, and how these people became the leanest and some of the most physically fit people in the world.)
I found one of the best motivations for me was seeing other peoples progress pictures.
I hoped that one day I would have my own to share. I scrolled and scrolled through as many as I could find, reaching out to people personally to learn how they achieved such amazing transformations. The friendships I built were incredible, and the lessons learned incredibly valuable. Even today when I’m finding it tough to make healthy decisions, I’ll still check on peoples progress and always find myself dumbfounded with admiration at the absolutely amazing things people have been able to accomplish.
I trusted in a lot of the things Brian told me about fitness but I needed more information.
You can sort of say I went on an information gathering frenzy.
I would spend the next couple years learning as much as I humanly could about the human body, how muscles worked, and what type of workouts were optimal for fat loss and muscle gain.
I watched interviews and videos off all the top athletes and fitness authorities discussing diets, weight training and cardio. I read book after book. I researched every food imaginable to learn about how they worked in the human body and if they were “good” or “bad”.
The single most important thing I had on my side throughout the transformation process was knowledge.
Having a thorough knowledge base of what actually works, and what doesn’t, was critical to my success.
Along the way I’ve encountered so many people offering outright bad advice, it was mind blowing. It’s no wonder fitness and dieting seems so confusing.
The reason I made this blog was so I could put all of that great information I’ve accumulated and put it to use and give back to all the people and resources who helped me along the way.
I wanted a way to make it simple and easy to understand for people like you, and need some direction or a helping hand.
If you haven’t already, I highly suggest you subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss all the great stuff I want to share with you. I really hope I get to know all of you on a personal level and become an inspiration to you like Brian was for me.
I just want you to know you can e-mail me anytime if you ever have any questions, struggles, or just need to get something off your chest.
To recap, I want you to leave this post with these five things in the back of your mind.
- Keep dreaming
- Be honest to yourself
- Let go of what holds you back
- Find an inspiration
- Learn as much as you can
Watch out for my upcoming posts to learn more fun fitness tips, and I’m looking forward to your own success story. (If you already have one, please share below!)
Cheers for now!