I have always struggled with my weight. I was always active when I was growing up and I played nearly every sport available in my area. I was good at them too. But I also loved to eat. I’m pretty confident that if it weren’t for the number of sports I played I would have been much more obese in my childhood years.
My parents weren’t to blame. They tried to ensure I ate healthy and would keep a close eye on what I ate. But I became a picky eater and came to start eating only high carb foods such as bread, cereal, breaded chicken, etc. Oh, and lets not forget that I absolutely loved ice cream, cookies, and chocolate in general.
When I got to university, I was about 190 lbs which was chubby but not exactly fat. But that’s when the “Freshman 15” kicked in. With the amount of physical activity in my life decreasing and the amount of booze and fast food increasing, I quickly ballooned to about 210 lbs after my first year. Then 220 in my second year. I think I finally topped out at 230 lbs somewhere near graduation.
A breakup shortly after provided me with a spark of motivation and I got myself down to about 215 lbs where I resided for the next 8 or 9 years, give or take 5 lbs here and there.
But towards the end of 2012 I felt like making a change. I can’t credit any particular spark for getting me started, but the results to date have been nothing short of spectacular, to me anyway. Here’s my story of how I did it, from a starting weight of 220 lbs.
I had been in gym avoidance mode for some time for various reasons, one of which was embarrassment at how terribly out of shape I was. But I decided that I was going to start out slow and build up from there. I had been going sporadically for the month of December, but as holidays rolled around I soon lost my dedication.
But starting in the New Year I resolved to myself that I was not going to be another cliche of a person who vows to lose weight and eventually gives up 2 weeks in. As an additional motivator, I had read about a site called Stickk.com which allows you to set a goal and gives you the option to donate to a charity you hate if you don’t reach your goal.
It sounds a little negative (especially for a personal productivity site!), but there was an organization to which I felt strongly opposed listed. So I decided to set a goal to lose 10 lbs in a month. I wagered $40. The check-ins would take place on a weekly basis and if I didn’t meet the target $10 would be donated to this “anti-charity”.
I can’t say for sure if it was the thought of losing $10 or having the $10 donated to this “anti-charity”, but I met every one of my weekly targets for the first month which resulted in a 10 lb weight loss.
In this first month, I focused on lifting weights 4 to 5 times a week following a program I had found on BodyBuilding.com (I’d recommended Jim Stoppani). I would also incorporate 3 or 4 cardio sessions per week as well.
The Biggest Motivator
One of the biggest benefits of using Stickk.com was that it forced me to track my progress. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Every morning when I would get up, I would weigh myself. The impact of this little task was two-fold:
1) It allowed me to track my progress to see if I was working hard enough. If I didn’t see pounds dropping and I was getting closer to my check in day, it would serve as motivation to work harder at the gym to reach my goals.
2) It served as a motivator to see pounds coming off.
This weigh in served as a daily motivator to take my workouts seriously. Another side benefit of the morning weigh in is that it made me think twice about a late night food binge which had been a common occurrence in my life for many years.
In fact, in many previous attempts to lose weight this is where my diet would come off the tracks. I frequently would eat perfectly throughout the day, ensure I finished my workout, and then would allow it to all come undone with an 11pm binge.
So the thought of having to weigh-in in the morning served as a deterrent many times in avoiding the high carbs that I craved late-night.
The Running Habit
After my first 10 pound loss, I was happy with my results but now that I had a taste of getting in shape, I wanted to keep going. The workout program that I was doing had concluded (it was a 6 week program) and I was looking for a different challenge.
That’s when I decided to undertake the challenge of running.
There is a yearly 10-mile race where I live that I’ve always wanted to run, but I was no where near in shape enough to run 5 miles let alone 10. So I decided I would start small.
I set a weekly goal to run 10 miles in my first couple of weeks. It didn’t matter if I ran those 10 miles in 10 different sessions, two 5 miles sessions, three sessions of 3.33 miles. Whatever, I just had to run 10 miles.
I managed to accomplish this by running 4 sessions of 2×2 miles and 2×3 miles. These sessions were often hard, but in addition to tracking the number of miles I would run, I also tracked the time it would take.
In the weeks that would follow, I would focus my sessions on running three miles. What I began to notice is that I was beginning to push myself to beat my 3 mile time session after session.
Eventually my runs were getting closer to 3.5 miles per 30 minutes which was quite an accomplishment from where I started.
The results in my second month were again similar to my first month. I lost 9 pounds and felt much better physically. Every day tasks like walking up the stairs or taking the dog for a walk felt so much easier. With 19 pounds gone from my body, I guess I can understand why!
With two months of hard work under my belt and a more slim body to show for it, the month of March provided an extra boost of motivation. I had booked a vacation to a warm weather destination. I would be leaving in May for it. A warm weather destination naturally means swimwear. If I was going to be in swim trunks for a couple of weeks, I was going to make sure that I looked good in them!
So this added motivation and a stronger base built up from a month of running allowed me to increase the number of miles I was logging.
Aside from the 3-4 miles I was running 3 times per week, I was also building in a longer 7-8 mile run on Mondays.
As I had yet another goal set on Stickk.com for another 10 pound weight loss for the month of March, I was shocked to see how much weight I was losing week over week. With a few days to spare in the month I had reached my goal of 10 pounds lost and eventually ended up losing 11 pounds.
Although I’m leaving my thoughts on my diet towards the end, the importance of my diet shouldn’t be understated. I ate very healthy over the course of these past three months.
I’ll share some specifics of the type of diet I followed in a future post about my most important tips I’ve taken from this experience, but it should be noted that I didn’t starve myself. I didn’t follow a fad diet. And there was rarely a time when I felt very hungry.
I did ensure that I was eating several times a day. I was eating smaller portions while making sure I ate enough protein to make myself feel full. There were also some cheat days built in, as I am only human after all and there are always occasions that call for celebrations.
But the biggest thing I made sure to do was to limit the amount of take-out/fast-food/eating out that I consumed. The vast majority of my meals were cooked at home and I give much of the credit for what I’ve accomplished to this fact.
I’ll be the first to admit that the last three months have been difficult at times. I’ve had to work hard for what I’ve accomplished. But if you have been struggling with your weight and have wanted to get in shape, let me be the first to tell you that it feels amazing to see the type of results I’ve accomplished.
People will notice. Your clothes will feel looser and in some cases you’ll have to throw stuff out because it no longer fits. But most importantly, you’ll feel better about yourself and have a healthier you to show for it.
Tomorrow I’ll be sharing the most important tips I’ve taken from my weight loss experience, but if you have any questions or comments about your own experience, please let me know in the comments!