In early November, 2017, I built my wife a small shelving rack for the kitchen. With the extra pieces of scrap wood, I spent the better part of an afternoon making a stool so that I could sit down and tie my shoes. And the next morning, when I sat down and did so, I broke down crying.
We often don’t give thought to the small choices we make each day, or how closely our health affects every aspect of our life, and I was no different. I faced one stunning and painful realization after another over the next few days. I didn’t have a “big frame”, I wasn’t a “burly guy”, my thick beard and open buttoned flannels weren’t an attempt at style but to try and hide myself. It wasn’t “always hot” in everyone else’s car and house, I was just fat and overdressed. I was now 5’7″ and 300lbs and it was severely effecting my health and lifestyle.
But I didn’t give up. I resolved to change this and fix it, once and for good, for the benefit of myself and everyone I know and love. Not after the holidays, not next Monday, NOW. I knew that ten years of complete negligence could not be undone in a week.
I knew that no miracle berry, supplement, tea, superfood or “detox” could lighten anything but my wallet. I knew no extreme diet like keto or paleo could provide anything but temporary results. And most of all, I knew that I couldn’t realistically change all of my bad habits overnight.
I started with a small change every new week. First, I stopped eating fast food. Then, I committed to do some form of exercise three days a week. Next, I decided to try smaller portions of only home cooked food and avoid any product with added sugar. Shortly after New Year’s, I was astonished when I weighed myself again and saw I had lost 24 lbs already.
So I kept pushing, I started counting calories, taking my exercise more seriously, tracking my progress weekly, cutting out diet soda, and most of all, staying dedicated and consistent no matter what life threw at me. Nothing would halt my journey. If a week went by without progress, I tried something different or made a change.
At the start, it was only about losing weight, the number on the scale, and something physical. But as the months went by, I began to learn more about myself than I ever imagined. I learned that my weight gain was merely a symptom of a larger problem of self neglect. I learned not to take excuses, not from myself or anyone else. I learned that the path to a better life lay in my attitude and choices, not my body.
Through the journey of losing 150 pounds, I gained countless new things. My clothing went from size 3XL to S. My waist from 44 to 28. My glasses, shoes, and wedding band no longer fit.
But it wasn’t the physical benefits that I was most happy to gain. It was when I suddenly had the energy to go through my normal day, the confidence to speak with conviction and sincerity at my brother’s wedding, when I no longer needed to hide from photos, and the newfound clarity to forgive the shortcomings of others and focus on inspiration and improvement, rather than jealousy and malice. My son and wife can now behold a man, rather than a mess. And I can tie my shoes wherever I want!
It is at this point I no longer refer to it as weight loss, but as life gain. It isn’t a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. There is no end to this journey, because it will be a lifelong endeavor. I am instilled with a new spirit, confidence, and happiness which is beyond words, and I am humbled by the experience.
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