I ordered a digital scale and a food scale from Amazon as well. I had moderate success with Weight Watchers in the past and knew that I'd have to learn how to get my portions under control, and I needed to know where I was at to start so I can track my progress. The scales were delivered on a Saturday, and Sunday, June 30, 2013 became Day 1. I didn't have one more big meal where I binged on pizza or fast food or ice cream or whatever. Those kind of habits and that kind of mentality where it was okay to do that is what got me to where I was in the first place.
I woke up Sunday morning and stepped on the scale. 384.4 pounds. It was admittedly a little bit relieving to see it down from the 390 pounds at the doctor's office six and a half months earlier, but it was incredibly relieving to see that it didn't cross over into the 400 pound range. It was the smallest of victories, but it was a victory.
After weighing myself, I signed up for MyFitnessPal, possibly the greatest weight loss tool available, in my opinion. I entered my height, weight, age, etc. and set it to lose as much weight as possible per week. The site calculates what your calorie and macronutrient goals should be based on whether you're try to lose weight, maintain your weight, or gain weight. Once I had that in place, I went downstairs, measured out a cup of cereal and a cup of milk, and logged my first entry into MyFitnessPal.
The next thing I did was drive to the nearest Retro Fitness gym and sign up for a membership. I didn't want to just lose weight, I wanted to be active and healthy as well. My degree was in sports business, I love watching sports, and I used to love participating to whatever degree I could. I wanted to recapture all of that. I chose Retro Fitness because besides the convenience of locations close to my apartment and my hometown, a membership required a one-year commitment that was nearly impossible to break. I used that as a motivator -- either make the most of it, or be reminded with a $20+ charge on your credit card bill that you're still not taking your health seriously.
I still had no idea what I was doing at the gym, and I couldn't afford a personal trainer, but at least I was there. I had been told in the past that losing weight was simply "eating less and moving more." Although I wasn't quite sure that a concept that simple was going to be the solution to a life of obesity, whatever else I'd been doing wasn't really the answer either. Day one at the gym consisted of 30 minutes on the elliptical and another 15 on an exercise bike. And that's pretty much all I would do for the next four months.
And that's all it really took. I continued to weigh and log and monitor my food on MyFitnessPal and just move more. I stuck to four days a week of cardio. If I couldn't make a day for whatever reason, I made sure that I did NOT just leave it where it was on my calendar and I did NOT just delete it out; I pushed it to a later date. I didn't want to make any excuses and I didn't want to set any precedents that it was okay to be lazy or slack off. I was serious about the change this time.
The first week saw me lose 5 pounds. The next was 3.2. Then 5.6. Followed by 5.4. At the end of the first month, I had lost 20 pounds. Before October started, I had lost 52.6 pounds and was nearly back at the 330 pounds that I had reached in my sophomore year of high school, and it only took 3 months.
I began to realize that the only thing that had ever been holding me back was... me.
I didn't have a real long-term weight goal in mind. Just "healthy". I hadn't been in a medically-defined "normal" weight range for my height and age since I was eight years old, so I didn't really know what it would feel like or when I was there. BMI calculators suggested somewhere around 168 pounds, but that seemed too low to me, and to be honest, it seemed so far away and unrealistic that I didn't really think it would be possible.
Instead, I set smaller, more attainable goals that would also challenge me. Reach a certain weight by birthday (I met that goal -- twice). Lose 100 pounds total before the end of the year (I missed it by 1 pound). And so on and so forth. Using graphs and trends of how my weight loss was going, I'd be able to see where I "should" be at a certain point down the line, and I'd try to beat that number. It made it very easy to stick to the calorie goals MyFitnessPal was giving me.
I also learned a lot about food and nutrition. It was suddenly crystal clear that it WAS just a matter of eating more and moving less. But I also learned that not all food was created equal. The amount of food from McDonald's or Wendy's that would fill me up was WAY more calories than if I just made my own lunch. You don't really realize the harm you're doing until you start really paying attention to and logging your food. Or at least I didn't. I never felt like I was starving myself. I never felt hungry. I just ate a lot smarter. I learned to budget my calories. If I knew I was going to have a late night where I wanted to snack, I'd make sure I left calories for it.
These were all simple concepts that were working pretty flawlessly. The only thing that had been holding me back was me.
In the summer after I graduated college, I was at the graduation party of one of my best friends. Somehow, the topic of running came up with her family. I had famously made the comment, "Unless you're playing a sport or your life is in immediate danger, running is stupid."
Since I was leading this new, healthy lifestyle, I figured I would give running a try. I found out about the Couch to 5k program, a program designed to transition you from being sedentary to being able to run a 5k. I began their 9 week program in the beginning of November, just 5 weeks before my alma mater's annual Big Chill 5k. Although I knew I wouldn't be able to run the whole distance since I wouldn't have completed the program, I was able to set a realistic goal for myself -- 45 minutes. I trained and managed to do it in just under 43 minutes.
A little bit later on, I discovered DDP Yoga, a bodyweight workout program that is a hybrid of yoga and dynamic resistance. After seeing this video, I began to work that into my routine as well -- how could I not?
I continued to run, I continued to do the elliptical, I continued to count calories. I never "cheated", I just budgeted for foods that I wanted. I didn't restrict myself to any fad diets or juicing or have any surgeries anything like that -- I just made smart, conscious decisions about what I was eating. It was really that simple.
I stepped on the scale on August 31, 2014 -- 16 full months after I joined MyFitnessPal and signed up for the gym -- and the scale read 179.8. In 16 months, I lost 204.6 pounds.
The only thing holding me back was me.