Full disclosure, the guy in that picture isn’t me. With that said, allow me to tell you a story.
A Weight Loss Journey
You see I’ve struggled with my weight pretty much my entire life. I was the fat kid that got picked on all through elementary, middle, and high school. In 2004 I finally had enough and decided to make a change. I tried to start eating a bit better, and I started going for 6 – 8 mile walks after work. It was slow going, but I started dropping some weight. It was the first time I’d really seen the numbers on the scale start to go down as far as I could really remember.
The next year I left for college and had a great time. While everyone told me to expect to put on “the freshman fifteen” in my first semester, I actually lost 15 more pounds in those first 3 months! I was eating better (comparatively) and I was going to the gym 2 – 3 times a day. By the end of my freshman year I had lost 30 pounds and had to buy some smaller clothes. My starting weight at the beginning of this story was 335 pounds, and by the end of my first year at college I was down to 300. That’s still a lot, but for me it was progress; and it was the boost in confidence that I needed to carry on.
I can’t take all the credit for this turn around. While it’s true that I was tired of always being the fat kid and feeling extremely unattractive, a big part of my success that first year was my wife. Well, we were dating back then, but she was such a wonderful cheerleader for me as I worked to get healthier. She cooked me chicken breast on her roommate’s Foreman Grill and steamed veggies because Lord knows I couldn’t cook to save my life. She would encourage me to work out when I didn’t want to and would come with me to the gym on occasion when I didn’t want to go alone. I also had friends and RA’s who would coach me and give workout tips because it was all so new to me.
In 2007 my wife and I graduated with our Associate’s degrees and prepared to transfer to another university a bit closer to our families. During that summer we got married and it wasn’t long after that that I learned that I was going to be a dad! By that point I had dropped 87 pounds to reach my lowest weight of my adult life at 248 pounds. I was feeling great even though I wasn’t working out as much as I had been I was still finding time to run in our neighborhood and walk around campus as much as possible.
A Turn for the Worse
As is common for men whose wives are pregnant, I gained weight with her. I mean, what kind of husband would I be if I let her eat alone? Especially when she was craving really good Thai and Mexican foods… and Oreos. I’m joking as I say that, but I did gain weight with her – about 20 pounds in 9 months. It wasn’t her fault at all. It was my inability to have self-control and to be driven by my stomach.
Over the next couple of years I lost a little bit of that weight but not too much, but in 2010 we found out she was pregnant with our second child. Second verse, same as the first and I gained even more weight maxing at about 290 pounds. I can’t say it was all from “sympathy eating”. I had transitioned from working at Starbucks where I was on my feet and sweating 8+ hours a day to a desk job running a local delivery business and the sedentary nature of that job made it easy to start packing on the pounds again. But over time I leveled out around 270 pounds.
Well wouldn’t you know it, those 20 pounds came back and they were here to stay. In 2013 our youngest was born and I still struggled to keep the weight down, but the ride was about to get crazy! You see the next year we were ready to start support (fund) raising to go do missions work in Uganda. We left our home of nearly 5 years and moved to central Florida, then to the Bradenton/Sarasota area on the Gulf coast. It was during this time that our plans to go to Africa fell through, and I took it hard… even if I didn’t realize it yet.
All Time High
Shortly thereafter my family and I moved again, this time to Asheville, North Carolina. It was around this time that I decided to go back to school and finish my Bachelors degree as I had stopped attending when our middle child was born. Over the next few months my weight would fluctuate drastically, probably due to the insanity that our lives had become at that point in time, but when the dust settled I was still over 300 pounds.
Fast forward to 2017 and I woke up one day to realize that I was officially the heaviest I have ever been in my life. I was up to 345 pounds; up nearly 100 pounds from where I was before my oldest was born. This hit me hard and try as I might over the last year and a half I am still fluctuating and hovering around that mark, currently around 332 pounds.
I tell you all of this because this is who I am. It’s not something I’m proud of; in fact I hate that I’ve gained so much back after years of hard work to lose it in the first place. Every day is a struggle with temptation all around, but I still press on toward my next goal.
I share this because I know that I’m not the only person with a story like this. I know I’m not the only person who has struggled with their weight for their entire life, and who can’t stand the way they look in the mirror. It’s not a matter of pride or vanity for me, I just want to be healthy for my wife and kids and to live longer than my dad did.
I guess I share this with you to encourage you (or maybe somebody you know) that you’re not alone, and that it is hard; but we don’t have to give up to the temptation of sweet, savory, or salty snacks that keep us in bondage.
I’ve decided to share this with you because I want to document this journey. I’m not planning to make this an everyday thing. I’m not going to take awkward underwear photos like some people do — I’m just not ready for something like that, but I do want to share what’s worked, what’s working, and what I’ve learned to avoid. Do with it what you’d like, but you’re invited on this voyage to a healthier life.