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This is the type of blog posts nobody really wants to write about themselves. It’s embarrassing, difficult to admit, and you really have to set any ego you have aside and just be 100% honest and critical of yourself.
I had to write this though, for me, and for you.
Why It’s Important
Sure, you could take a look through my progress pictures and tell say, “Wow! This guy is awesome! He completely transformed his life!”
But that doesn’t even come close to painting the whole picture. The question I want to answer with this post is..
“How the heck did I get like this in the first place?”
If you don’t take an honest look at what you came from, how can you ever expect to change the present, or the future? If I didn’t tell you this story, I’d feel like just like another guy peddling fitness like it’s some kind of commodity. In fact, I’d feel downright dishonest.
Now – I can’t change the past. Nobody can. I thought if I shared this story with you, maybe you can relate to some of these things, or better yet if you can’t, maybe you’d be willing to share your story in the comments below. It doesn’t matter if you were only ever 10 lbs overweight, or 300 lbs overweight, or 50 lbs underweight, I want to read your story!
OK, so let’s step into my lego “Back to the Future” Delorean and go back in time, all the way back to 1986.
It’s been said once or twice that bad habits start early. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I’m definitely not an exception to that rule. Being a kid for the most part was good, but it had a few rough patches like I suppose most kids do. I wouldn’t really change much about it because it made me the person I am today. But as I look back, there were a lot of factors in my childhood that played a big role what would become a pretty extensive adolescent (and eventually adult) obesity .
The Trailer Life
As a toddler you don’t really have much control over anything. Unfortunately, the things you learn to accept as normal can be extremely influential for both the bad and good. For instance, I think my parents did a really nice job with disciplining bad behavior and building moral ethics, and the differences between right and wrong. On the flip side, my parents didn’t have much money, education, and had what I could only describe as a “small town mentality”.
My dad struggled with alcoholism and my mom struggled with opiate addictions, and was only very young when she was pregnant with my brother and I. Where I’m from this wasn’t particularly uncommon. Luckily for my brother and I, they did a reasonably decent job at hiding these things from us and recovering from them. That being said, things were tough sometimes.
A trailer in the middle of the woods, in the middle of nowhere, on less than an acre of property.
Needless to say, there wasn’t much to do. Nearly neighborless, I’d spend a lot of time biking around my yard, playing in the dirt, and shooting baskets on a makeshift basketball hoop.
In retrospect it had a certain amount of charm. It was peaceful, only the echoes of cows mooing and birds chirping. As an adult it’s nice to visit! As a kid with that reality day-in and day-out, boredom would eventually set in.
I didn’t have anyone to play with and my parents mostly weren’t around or weren’t willing to participate in my involvement in many activities. My mom was always sleeping getting ready to work a nightshift and my dad was planted on couch, usually in a strange unbreakable chain-smoking hypnosis with the TV which had two channels, three on a good day if the antenna was pointed just right.
The Great Escape
In the late 80’s, Nintendo corporation so graciously introduced the NES. I was only 2 or 3 years old when our household became equipped with this amazing piece of technology. After all, it was relatively cheap entertainment.
When my parents bought this, they probably thought it was a novelty.
To me, it was an escape.
An escape from a childhood devoid of social connections. I had no friends. I had no extended family except for a couple aunts and a grandma I’d see once or twice a year. For all intensive purposes, my brother hated me as child and alienated me as much as possible.
So what did I do?
I sat on the floor, and played video games. I played them until my thumbs were buried in calluses. Until my eyes hurt from staring at the screen. I played, and played, and played..
Until I got hungry.
My house was filled with inexpensive off-brand food bought in bulk sizes. Visualize family size bags of cheetos, cheese puffs, crackers, giant boxes of brownies, fudge rounds, swiss rolls, and cookies. The most processed, inexpensively produced food that this planet has ever seen.
But then I got thirsty.
What better way to wash down a salty, nutrient less meal of empty simple carbohydrates than to drink as much soda pop and sugar filled kool-aid and juice as possible?
What ensued would become a decade long binge of simple carbohydrates. Pasta, chips, cookies, ice cream, cereal. What did I have for protein? Hot dogs, and bologna. Pound after pound of cheap, processed lunch meat.
These were staples in my household.
Needless to say, I became a fat kid. I was fat enough that I was uncomfortable in most jeans, so I wore sweatpants to school. I don’t think my parents minded – after all sweatpants were a lot cheaper than jeans.
I would eventually be called names. “Fat boy” was pretty popular in the 90’s. I’d be picked last for teams at every trip to the gym. You know, the sort of things kids face as obese children.
Enter the Internet
My extensive interest in video games was actually a foundation for me to become very good with computers when my parents bought our first one when I was around 8. I’d spend the next few years tinkering and teaching myself literally everything about the computer, and of course getting into more and more video games. Eventually we would get internet service on a dial-up modem when I was around 11 or 12.
I was finally connected to the world.
I may have been in a trailer in the middle of the woods but I could find any information I wanted or talk to anyone from anywhere. I would sit and consume entertainment and information on the internet non-stop for the next couple years, learning even more about computers, teaching myself to build webpages in raw HTML, and (of course) playing online video games.
The Divorce Talk
Eventually my adolescence would be taken over by domestic violence. My parents got divorced after 15 years and it made an already unsettling time of life, even worse. My dad would eventually refuse to pay child support and spend the next few years in jail after returning to alcoholism post divorce, extensively stalking my mom and becoming basically, an enormous asshole. My mom would have to work extra hard at this point in her life to pay her bills, working long night shifts at Walmart. My grades in school would get worse for awhile. It was an all around sad time in my life and I just didn’t want to be around anybody.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually loved being social. I just didn’t want to be social with people who judged me on my appearance or life or people who didn’t have similar interests to me. You can imagine in a town of 200 people there weren’t many candidates, until I discovered this online game that was actually a world full of thousands of people, called Everquest. People who accepted me for who I was, and enjoyed spending time with me. At the time, it was a new and addicting concept. It numbed the painful realities in my life.
I would eventually change my sleeping schedule around this game. I would sleep as soon as I got home from school from 3pm – 9pm so that nobody would bother me at night. My mom was fragile and on edge at this point in her life, and honestly as a teenager I didn’t really want to constantly sympathize with her or listen to her picky complaints about things, so I got around this by “napping”. When she left for her night shift job, I’d wake up and play Everquest from 9pm until 6am and go straight to school. I’d spend age 13 through 17 doing this as much as I could get away with it, gaining 25 lbs each year from the time I was a freshmen to a senior. In four years I’d gain 100lbs, becoming the biggest kids in my graduating class at 305 pounds.
Believe it or not, I actually made some good friends in high school. I would learn to play the trumpet and euphonium and get pretty good. I was hugely passionate about music at this time in my life, so it was natural for me to start Central Michigan University (Fire up Chips!) as a music major. I started dating a girl (who happened to also be obese) and most of our time spent together would be around eating.
To top that off, my dorm had a cafe that was basically all you can eat food and I would eat as much pizza and chocolate milk as you could possibly imagine. What most people call the freshmen 15 was actually the freshmen 30 for me. I’d balloon up to my highest weight of all time, 335, at the end of my freshmen year in college. I was only 18 years old.
You can’t always control all the factors in your life that contribute to your situation, whatever it may be. Perhaps you have a story like mine, and maybe it is totally different. I think by the time I was 13 I should have known better but the lifestyle was so ingrained to my life that I just didn’t have the self control or capacity to care to change. I wanted to, don’t get me wrong. I remember thinking as a teenager about all the girls I had a crush on, and I always thought to myself. “If I just lost X number of pounds, she’d go out with me”. It would take some hard life lessons before I developed the fortitude and self control to really take control of the situation.
Once I reached that point, it was all about education. I knew a lot about the things I cared about – music and technology. I really knew absolutely nothing about food, calories, macronutrients, micronutrients, other than I thought fat made you fat. I sure as heck didn’t know anything about working out. I would spend thousands of hours teaching myself everything about how the human body worked, how different types of food worked in the body, what was good, and what was bad, trying things for myself, and putting that information into action.
Now is your chance to take action.
If you haven’t already I want to encourage you to subscribe to my blog so you can catch my upcoming posts that take you into step-by-step detail of why I then decided to lose weight, and exactly what I did to lose 140 pounds, what I learned in the process, and share some of my knowledge with you.
If you don’t want to subscribe, I’d at least like to encourage you to share your story below. I want to hear what challenges you’ve faced and what lead you to where you are today.
Thanks for reading my blog and I hope you enjoy what’s coming up next!
Until next time,