This was originally posted on the /r/LoseIt sub-Reddit.
I think the time is right for a proper introduction. Hi, my name is Mike and I know what you are going through. Weight loss is a journey… a hard, slow, methodical journey. The goal of this journey is lifelong health and once you get there the rest is easy, right? Well, not so much.
Back in 2009 I was coming to the end of my 8 year marriage and starting the process of getting a divorce. It was amicable, my ex-wife and I are much better friends than we ever were husband and wife. I have a 10 year old son that both frustrates me and amazes me like no other can. I learned more about myself from that failed marriage than I ever would have learned staying unhappily married. In 2009 I had already been out of the Navy for 5 years and my weight had crept up steadily over the years, topping out at 290lbs. On my 5’7” frame I was about 130lbs overweight. I knew I was fat and getting fatter. I played a ton of video games; I worked a security job that had me sitting behind a desk for 8-12 hours, 5 nights a week. I was working overnights which compounded the issues. Mix all that with being back in the dating pool I knew that it was time for a change.
I left my job as a security guard and started working in the footwear department at L.L. Bean. I helped open there store here in Albany, NY and after the first day of setting up the footwear backroom (a ton of walking, lifting and bending over) I was laid up in bed for 3 days, unable to move without shooting pain radiating from my lower back and into my legs. I had self-diagnosed it as sciatica due to some Google-fu while trying not to move while lying in bed. Google told me the best treatments for sciatic pain is to do just what I could not do, move. So I, very painfully and slowly, went for a walk down the street, maybe 300 yards out and back, each step long and deliberate. By the time I had made it back to the house I was walking freely. Six walks over the next two days and I was back to normal. I still ate like crap, but having a job that forced me to be on my feet for the better part of 40 hours a week helped me go from that high of 290 to around 260lbs in about 18 months. Not a great weight loss feat but it set me up for the next part of the story.
The first woman I dated after separating from my wife was a big girl, but she wanted to make changes in her life as well so we started on the weight loss journey together. We cut out white wheat, sugar and salt. The 3 “white deaths”. I started running 3 days a week and weight training 3 days a week. In the matter of 4 months or so I went from around 260lbs to 240lbs, counting calories and working out. I wasn’t strict meaning that if we went out to dinner all bets were off. I was in a new relationship, meeting new people and having a good time. It was good to see some progress. I had left my job at L.L. Bean for a position working for the State, so I was back behind a desk but I was armed with better eating habits and a gym routine that was keeping me steadily losing weight. My relationship with my GF lasted about 16 months, and without getting into too much detail we went our separate ways, not exactly on good terms. Such is life.
The next part of my weight loss journey led me to dating and eventually living with a woman who had recently had gastric bypass surgery. If you are not familiar with the diet restrictions associated with this surgery it is essentially low-carb, small portions and as nutrient dense as you can get. It was easy to eat healthy in this environment. Again, I wasn’t perfect and routinely ate meals that would be considered “off the rails”. I was still working out (more bodyweight stuff) and running more frequently (generally 3miles a day, 3 days a week). The time frame here is 2011-2012 and I was able to dip my weight down to 188lbs by July of 2012. For those of you that are counting that is over 100lbs! I was steadily losing weight towards my goal of 160-170, I was focused on my health like I had never been at any point in my life. Then, out came the rug.
I know that it’s not a healthy practice to attach one’s self-worth to the love and affection of another. It is a definite recipe for disaster. The woman I was with during this time was both the women I thought I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and the woman I could never see myself spending the rest of my life with. She was physically beautiful and becoming more so by the day (she had lost over 140lbs because of her surgery) yet I always knew that that fact would be the end of our relationship. Her personality was so similar to mine (I can tend to be sarcastic and even a little mean) that although we never fought, we never really were able to communicate out real emotions and insecurities. As she became more confident in herself, I became less confident in us. Stuff happened, a picture of her kissing a friend at a Halloween party, inappropriate conversations with a guy in Texas (granted this was very early in our relationship so I just let it go, forgave her and moved on), e-mail conversations with an older guy she knew where she had her car serviced. It all just kind of made me a little crazy and the tension built and built until the relationship couldn’t contain it. I didn’t trust her and she didn’t want to be with someone that didn’t trust here. It blew up in a nasty way. We broke up the day before my birthday 2012, had a lease we couldn’t get out of for 3 months, so to say tension was high in that apartment was an understatement. I tried to make some efforts to salvage the relationship but she had moved on (rather quickly I may add) to a new guy and I was left, living in an apartment with a woman I still cared deeply for, but know was so bad for me. I didn’t fall into total disrepair until after I had moved out, had my own apartment, and was alone.
This was actually the first time I had lived on my own in my entire life. I was 36. I maintained my running but my diet went to complete crap. I would eat great for breakfast and lunch but dinner became McDonalds on the way home from work followed by a run to the convenience store for ice-bream and snacks. Mentally I knew I was sliding back into bad habits but emotionally I didn’t care. I started going out with friends, drinking heavily on the weekends, seeking attention any way I could get it. Looking back it’s sad to think that this was the part of my life when I met my future wife and started the health regression that has me where I am today. So, about 3 months into my bachelorhood, after drinking and eating my way back to about 200lbs I met my current wife. Let me tell you this woman is a Saint and the most selfless person I have ever met. I’m not going to bore with any details but let’s just say that she helped me through the emotional issues I was having with the breakup with my ex, issues I was having with being a part time father, and eventually the issues I was having with going from 200lbs when we met to the almost 280lbs I sit at today (well, today I am 270lbs having decided that enough is f’ing enough).
So how did I gain back all that weigh? Simple… I got happy and lazy. In the past I had tied my weight and weight loss to whoever I was with. I never lost weight for me, I never made the decision to get healthy for me. I did it because the person I was with was doing it and I needed to keep up. I needed to become the person I thought that person would love. Man that is a destructive way to do things because it isn’t stable. So, I got married to the person I know is with me for me, not who I look like or what I weigh. We have an amazing, so amazing little baby boy. We have a good life and I am happy, truly happy for the first time in a long time. I’m happy, except I am unhealthy. I want to be healthy again. Well, that’s pretty much it. I forgot to mention that early on in the relationship with my wife I trained for and competed in a Sprint Triathlon, you know Swim, Bike, Run. I crossed the finish line fighting back tears. I felt like that was going to be the moment that got me back on track. Yeah, it didn’t. What it did do was add another moment in my life that reinforced the notion that if I set a goal and work toward it I can accomplish it. It is important to remember past victories, learn from the failures and move on.
Here are my goals for the rest of 2016.
- Lose 20lbs by the 4th of July when my mother comes to visit, she’s been doing Weight Watchers and has lost 30lbs, go Mom! (Update: I hit 20lbs lost on June 6th!)
- Start running again. I tried a few weeks ago and it is just too much for my back. I have started walking to and from work (about a mile each way) as well as walking at work on my breaks and lunch (probably an additional 3 miles). I will try running again (C25K) when I get below 250lbs. (Update: I recently finished Week 1 of C25K, no back pain!)
- Commit to a 3 day per week strength training regime. Probably bodyweight training to start. Yeah, I need to get on that.
- Yoga. I want to do more yoga… and foam rolling, with the foam roller I bought like 5 years ago!
- I’d like to be under 200lbs by the end of the year. I think that is an attainable goal.
Beyond 2016? Triathlon training, hitting my target weight of 160-170lbs. Running 5k events regularly and training for longer distances. Maybe even a marathon someday. Go to the beach and take of my shirt and not feel like Shamu. Take my current CICO program and transition it to more of a hole foods, food quality type of eating.
If anyone is interested I am always looking for friends and motivation on MyFitnessPal so feel free to send me a friend request!