Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How I lost 80 pounds

It’s been almost a year now since I realized the importance that I loose a few pounds.  Since I started I’ve had many people, friends, acquaintances and strangers alike ask me how I did it.  I’m going to tell you.  Some have heard this before, some have not, but hopefully, Readers, you can get something out of this.

me march 3 March 3rd 2010

The secret is chocolate.  Loads of it.  Eat so much that you think you will be sick.  Then eat a little bit more.  Then sit and watch TV. Pow, the pounds melt away.*  That’s how simple it really is.  Oh wait, that’s what everyone WANTS me to tell them.  When I get asked how did you lose weight and I don’t answer like that people look at me like I’ve stolen their stuffed toy from when they were five years old.

So how did it all happen? Let me share something with you, an excerpt from my black belt essay, the paragraph that precedes the text I’m about to cite refers to a grading that happened in February of 2010, and how I thought I did not too badly at it….

About a month later Sensei Bowser had a group of the brown and red belts come in for a little test. Just us, a timer, some focus pads and a lot of gasping for air! It wasn’t an elaborate workout, but it was more telling than any other I had endured inside the dojo walls.

There was only one instruction following the session that I can recall. “Work on your cardio.” At that point, drenched in sweat and choking on dust I had vacuumed up from the floor after a mere 10 or 12 minutes of actual work, I could see why that day in September of 2009 had passed by with no event. I was not ready. My body was incapable of handling what would be the hardest test of all at the club.”

That was it, that was the beginning.  There was no long list of instructions, there was no guidance of what to do or how to go about it.  I took that instruction and made it my job.  At the start I went to the gym maybe four times a week, fitting it around school and work and karate and homework.  I had no help at the gym, but I didn’t seek any out either.  I went to the gym and I worked on the elliptical for at the start 20-30 minutes.  I was a big guy then, 230lbs, and that was enough for me to be finished.  Eventually the amount of time I could be on crept upward, and I saw results pretty much every day.

By mid April, a mere month after I had begun I had dropped about 28lbs.  I was at 200 pounds for the first time in about four years.  Originally that had been my goal.  I rewarded myself with a new Canadiens jersey still an XL at the time, because this had been the weight at which previous weight loss attempts had ended before.  Something was different this time around though.  I wasn’t simply starving myself to lose weight, and I wasn’t just losing weight, I was gaining ability.  I could be active longer, I could do more.  This is also around the time my second semester at school was ending and I then made the gym my #1 priority of things to do in a day.  I moved from only doing the elliptical machine to adding a few of the weight lifting machines.  I was really beginning to enjoy my time at the gym, even if an hour on the elliptical was tedious.

100_0973 July 16th 2010

I should mention here that it was not just exercise that made it all happen.  I made a huge shift in diet.  Fast food (besides Subway) was off the menu, cereal was breakfast and a small bowl at that, low calorie yogurt, or an apple or banana was a snack, a sammich and granola bar was lunch and dinner remained the usual types of dinner foods, chicken, steak, pasta, rice potatoes etc. but portions were controlled, and a cup of water before bed so my stomach would be quiet.  I ate about 1400 calories a day, and I was starving for the first few weeks.  After that it was not so bad.

This pattern of not much food and a heck of a lot of exercise continued, for another month and a half.  I was at the gym every single day, doing my own totally uncreative workout, and eating like a Hollywood starlet.

After I had lost 50lbs in all I decided at the start of June to get a trainer at the gym.  June 10th was my first assessment.  It went well and Jodi gave me a full body workout to use.  I did it, and within a few days we moved on to something else.  We changed to an upper body day and a lower body day, and she told me I had to eat more.  Just as I was beginning this workout I started my job at a day care’s summer program, and I had already started working part time at the gas station I had worked at years before. 

This brings me to something I have heard a lot of during the course of my losing weight.  It comes in various forms but let me just put a few of them out there.

“It’s easier because you’re a guy.”
”You don’t have the other things to do like me.”
”You had a trainer, so that must make it easier.”
”It’s easier for you because you don’t have people to look after.”
”I have more commitments than you do.”
”What’s your secret?”

These types of things upset me, some more than others, and some of them more so now than earlier.  Any statement that implies ‘easier’ I’m offended by.  I may not show it outwardly, but it’s offensive.  If there is anyone who thinks what I did was easy, I’d love to give them a week in my weight loss experience and they can find out how ‘easy’ it was.  That I have nothing else to do falls under the same category.  I would say that in the summer was when I had the least amount of other things to do and that list included:

Work 8:30-4:30
Work at least 3 shifts at the gas station
Attend (to teach or learn or both) Karate for all 7+ hours in a week (which I do enjoy, but it is a commitment)
Continue to build my relationship with Amber (even with so much going on with her and myself we found the time most evenings)
Be part of planning wedding things
Do my part around the house
Stay on top of eating right
Go to the gym
Other odds and ends that came up

Not a short list huh?  In the fall I had school full time, tutoring, and the gas station as the work commitments.

I did have a trainer, but what I don’t think a lot of people realize is that I only met (and continue to meet) with Jodi when it was time for a new workout, or to do an assessment.  I don’t answer to her on goals and milestones, she isn’t with me every day that I’m at the gym.  During this whole weight loss and now fitness adventure I was and am answerable to one person.  Me.

By September I was done losing weight, I was actually too light, weighing only about 148lbs at one point, and have since moved to programs that build strength and endurance.

Did I cheat along the way?  No.  I would be at work at the gas station, starving and surrounded by every type of yummy junk food you can think of, but I never had a single chip or chocolate bar.  Did I reward myself?  Yeah, but not with food.  My reward was the results.  It was seeing the timer go longer on the elliptical, it was lifting more weight, it was/ is peeling off my shirt when I’m done a workout and seeing that it’s soaked in sweat, it was playing hockey again in the late summer and not dying for air, and once in a while it was a comic book.  I ate good food, but I planned for it, and made it a part of what I was doing.

And that Readers is how I lost 80 pounds, it’s how I got in shape.  It’s not rocket science, just effort, and commitment, being driven for a goal.  It’s self-control and perseverance, it’s the wisdom to see (finally) what needs to be changed and the courage to make the  necessary changes.

100_3287 Jan 5th 2011

*Credit to Matt for the “more chocolate” solution to weight loss, it would be nice to use it just once in person when someone who I know has no intention of even trying is just trying to chat me up about exercise because they think it’s what I want to hear.

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