I looked in the mirror and it finally hit me–I was overweight. Severely overweight. Perhaps even “morbidly obese.” How could this be? I had left for college just a few short years earlier in great shape–a wiry guy who was 175 pounds and almost 5’11.
I must have looked this heavy for a long time, but I had never fully realized it until now. Sure I knew I had put on weight. I knew I wasn’t as athletic as I used to be and that I was huffing when walking around campus. But was I really this huge? I demanded a scale.
Step 1: Admitting The Problem
I stepped on and the scale made a strange noise as it sprung to action–landing finally at 280 pounds. All the beer and the fast food and the lack of exercise had done quite a job–and in such a short time.
You would think such a shock would make me change my ways. Would force me to “shape up” and start dieting. Well, it did…for a while. But every time my “diet” would eventually lose steam. I never went above 280 pounds, but I was a constant yo-yo of 255-280 pounds for the next several years. I am ashamed to say that not even my wedding inspired me to lose the weight. The day came and passed and I was still extremely overweight.
Obesity runs on one side of my family. I always prided myself on having a great metabolism and taking after my other side of the family. It would appear that genetics had finally caught up, or that not even a great metabolism can be a match against fast-food twice a day followed by a 6 pack of beer for dessert.
In graduate school the drinking and partying came to a stop–but the unhealthy eating habits did not. Nor did the weight come off me. I found myself constantly bringing up the fact that I “was athletic and thin” in high school–as if to say “I’m not like the other overweight people.” Self-hatrid is the only word that can accurately describe such a mindset.
Step 2: What Got Me To Finally Become Serious About Losing Weight
If a wedding didn’t get me motivated to lose weight then what possibly could have? I’m sure that’s the question you’re probably asking right about now. The truth is I became inspired by a book.
I wish that book were The Bible or even a great weight-loss book, but it was actually a book about how to find a job in my field. You see, in the final year of graduate school I was finding it nearly impossible to find a job. I had solid credentials and kept receiving interviews–but I would then never hear back. Somewhere inside I knew my appearance (i.e. my weight) must have been part of the problem. I couldn’t afford new suits so I looked like that fat guy wearing a too-small suit instead of the professional image I wanted to project.
Anyway, I was reading this book about finding a job in my particular profession. The author was one of those “I tell it like it is!” types who acted so above everything and offered this really harsh advice. I got to a passage that basically said–although I am paraphrasing:
“Nobody wants to hire a fat person. If you’re fat people will think you’re lazy. Even if you’re not lazy that’s just the truth about the way people think. I’m not saying it’s wrong or right but that’s the way it is. If you want a job get to the gym and stop being so fat.”
I read that passage over and over again. And then I cried by myself as though somebody had just singled me out in person and said those things. Now I’m an emotional person–but I am still a guy. In other words I try not to cry very often. It’s against man code and who am I to object? But I won’t hold back now from admitting that I had a complete meltdown. My wife came home and I was red-eyed and apologizing for how we would never be able to pay back our student loans because I was too fat to find a job.
As Jerry Maguire says: “Breakdown….breakthrough.”
I woke up the next day fully resolved to lose weight. But this time my mindset was completely different. I no longer wanted to “go on a diet.” I wanted to get healthy. It is that mindset that has carried me through for 3+ years of maintaining 100 pound weight loss. Less than 1% of people who lose 100 pounds or more maintain their weight loss.
Sometimes I start slipping to be sure. Other times I feel like a ticking time bomb. But over the next few months I am going to write about health in general here at Prairie Eco Thrifter. I am also going to continue my story. I lost the weight without using a fad diet or spending a great deal of money. Simple honest advice and a decision to live a healthier life is the real key to weight loss, in my opinion. Over the coming months I will discuss how I lost the weight in much more detail.
I look forward to sharing my story and what I have learned with each of you. If you ever have any questions, please comment or send me an email.