In episode 2, learn the full story behind how I lost 90lbs:
- Full backstory and how I arrived at 270lbs
- How I quit smoking cigarettes
- What prompted me to lose weight
- How I ended up losing 90lbs
- Major health struggles following the weight loss
- Overcoming addiction and emotional turmoil
- Lessons learned from the experience and where things stand today
(Credit for the musical intro blurb goes to Joe Rogan).
Thanks for listening and remember to make wise choices!
Episode 2 YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/L46UbM-HOQo
Audio Only Link: http://traffic.libsyn.com/wiseeats/Wise_Eats_Episode_2.mp3
Back in 2009, I lost 90lbs and dedicated my life to health, fitness, and self-improvement. Up until that point, I never had a consistent exercise regimen, and often abused my body with food and alcohol. Despite my long battle with obesity and poor lifestyle habits, today I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been. I eat a well-balanced diet, exercise in some form every single day, and try to be an example for those around me. But it wasn’t always this way.
Growing up, I was a picky eater. I wasn’t satisfied unless I had a McDonald’s happy meal, pepperoni pizza, or some other type of fast food. I would cry and beg and plead with my Dad until he gave into whatever I wanted for dinner, and he usually would.
When it came to food, I was given the freedom to make my own choices growing up. Mom passed away when I was five, so Dad raised three boys all on his own, and he did the best he could. He cooked meals at home often, but I would whine, fuss or flat-out refuse to eat unless it was some type of junk food with a cold pop. Even my school lunches were usually a white bread sandwich, a bag of Doritos, a Mountain Dew, and a hostess pie for dessert. Most nights, Dad would let me have whatever I wanted for dinner, whether it be pizza, Burger King, or just a grilled cheese and chicken noodle soup, and I loved him for it. He’s actually a fantastic cook and I wish I could go back in time and not be such a spoiled brat! Nowadays, healthy eating is a passion both of us share. He actually has a pretty amazing weight loss story himself. After being diagnosed with diabetes and eventually having a leg amputated, my Dad quit smoking, drinking, lost 60lbs, and no longer deals with the disease. He’s also had to overcome a tremendous amount of emotional adversity, having tragically lost his wife and two of his sons. His strength has given me the motivation over the years to keep moving forward no matter the circumstances. He may not have taught me the right way to eat and exercise, but he did teach me how to be a good person.
Poor diet and lifestyle choices followed me into my teenage years. In early 1997, when I was 13, my 18-year-old brother Jason was tragically killed. One of the greatest idols in my life had been suddenly torn away from me. He was my leader, my best friend, and I was lost without him. Thankfully, I had great a support system to get through, but the depression from losing my big brother didn’t help my lifestyle choices.
At age sixteen, I started smoking cigarettes because I thought it would make me more popular. Every day, my school lunches were fast food sandwiches, cheese sticks, pizza, and other junk foods. I drank at least 12oz of soda with every meal. Each morning, I would wake up so miserably tired and drained of energy. My exhaustion was so severe that I would sleep through classes or skip them altogether. Although I maintained good grades and graduated, I wonder how much more I could’ve accomplished if I had been eating and sleeping well.
After graduating high school, my habits got even worse. Every day I was eating some sort of fast food or processed food. I consumed alcohol too often, smoked close to a pack of cigarettes per day, and rarely got quality sleep. I supplemented these poor choices through occasional exercise, but not with any consistency. I spent a few semesters in college, but changed my major three different times, and eventually stopped going altogether. I simply didn’t have the motivation or mental dexterity to get through school at that time and had no idea that my lifestyle decisions were holding me back. I worked a few different jobs, mostly in food service, which didn’t help my diet. In 2004, I was such a screw-up that I got fired from Big Boy of all places. Shortly after, my Dad got me a job at the factory he worked at, which helped me find some stability.
5 years out of high school, I hit a big milestone. On May 2, 2007, I decided to quit smoking cigarettes, and used the memory of my late brother Jason as motivation. The day I quit would’ve been his 29th birthday and a full decade since his death. I couldn’t continue wasting away my life when he never got a chance to fully live his, and wanted to make a change that he would’ve been proud of. I had finally decided that quitting was just something I needed to do; that it was within my power to overcome it. It was hard, and it took me two tries, but I did it. After 7 years of smoking cigarettes, I finally quit cold turkey at the age of 23. I’m so thankful I made this choice because it was a game changer. Unfortunately, my health got worse before it got better.
I gained a ton of weight after I quit smoking. I was done with cigarettes but replaced my craving for nicotine with food and alcohol. My girlfriend Julie and I were living away from home for the first time and making consistently poor choices. We were both overweight and eating whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. Our dinners usually consisted of take out, fast food, and fried food. When we did eat what we considered a normal meal, it was often something frozen, boxed, or processed. We battled for years to change our ways, but failed. Julie eventually decided that she was done being overweight and chose to undergo weight loss surgery. First, she tried lap band surgery, but withminimal success. Then, she underwent gastric bypass, which was much more invasive. Initially, I encouraged her to try losing the weight on her own, but eventually supported her decision to go through with the procedures, a decision I would regret later on.
In March 2009, my weight had reached an all-time high. I was 6ft, 272lbs, and on a one-way path toward lifestyle-related disease. I rarely exercised, and my daily routine revolved around the next junk food meal I would consume. At this point I decided to make my second biggest lifestyle change; I was going to lose weight. It was time to take back control of my life. I finally woke up, looked at my lifestyle, knew it was within my power to overcome my addictions, and made the choice to do it. It was that simple. I think having the determination to quit smoking a couple of years earlier empowered me as well. At the end of the day, if you want to make a lifestyle change, it comes down to discipline. Getting healthy is a choice and it takes will power, plain and simple. You have to make the commitment, and once you do, it’s motivating. And it’s addicting, in a good way. And believe it or not, once you start, it gets easier as you go along if you stick with it. At least it did for me.
So, with a renewed sense of passion to shed some pounds, I got to work, and began tracking all of my meals. I didn’t follow Atkins, Paleo, Keto, or any other “fad” diet. Instead, I educated myself. I found a website called The Intense Workout, which introduced me to diet tips and exercise routines. I was shocked to discover that the majority of foods I was eating were exactly the types of foods I should’ve been avoiding. I owe a debt of gratitude to Intense-Workout.com for helping me get started on my fitness journey 10 years ago. Today, I have compiled my own diet tips and workouts that I hope can inspire someone else to get healthy. Those are available over at Wise-Eats.com/FatLoss.
My diet strategy from day one was very simple: journal and count calories. I didn’t focus on quality of foods as long as I kept my total calorie intake down. My diet was still very poor; I just ate less overall. I would often have supposedly “healthy” processed foods like Lean Cuisines and Healthy Choices during the week, then cheat meals galore and alcohol on the weekends. I allowed myself to do pretty much whatever, whenever, as long as I logged every single calorie and restricted intake on several days of the week.
Starting a diet journal turned out to be another game changing habit. No matter what I ate, good or bad, I wrote it down and got an estimate of the number of calories I consumed. My goal was to keep the calorie count below my daily requirements. I also began jogging and occasional weight lifting. In my journal I recorded all meals, calories, and workouts. Keeping a journal is a habit I maintain to this day. I have recordedevery meal and every workout since the very beginning.
By restricting calories, I lost weight immediately. Each week I would track and record my weight, which dropped on a pretty consistent basis. If I didn’t lose anything one week, I would usually lose even more the next week. I had good days, I had bad days. I never ate perfect. Weekdays were reserved for low calories, and weekends were reserved for cheating, a lot. Looking back, it’s amazing the foods I was able to consume and still lose weight through calorie restriction. As long as I averaged a low per day calorie amount for the week, I felt like was doing good. And for weight loss, it worked!
No matter how many people want to contest it, actual weight loss is simple math. It might be cliché, but the philosophy is true: calories in, calories out works. It’s not the most sustainable way to keep weight off permanently, but it is the fundamental principle underlying weight loss. If you expend more energy than you take in, you will lose weight. The problem is, many people don’t develop sustainable habits like getting stronger and making exercise a regular priority in their life. They start a routine, fall off, and go back to their old inactive habits, just like I have done many times in my life. Lucky for me, I eventually found a way to stick with it, and now I want to help you do the same.
Now that I was watching my calories, the next thing I did was limit soda and fast food. If you’re listening and still drinking soda, it’s time to Wise Up! Do whatever you can right now to stop or at least cut back! Soda’s harmful effects on blood sugar impact your mood, performance, energy levels, and brain function. Even diet soda is filled with poisons that alter your body chemistry. The only thing these drinks do is rob you of energy and potential. They’re also highly addictive. Quitting was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but I gradually phased it out of my diet, and it changed everything! Today, I won’t even touch the stuff, nor do I desire to. It’s not even an option in my mind. But it took many years to get to that place. Same goes for fast food. During my weight loss, I mostly limited fast food to weekends only. Today, I rarely eat any type of junk food at all because I truly enjoy the taste of real food and the feeling of feeling good!
As I gained more knowledge on fitness, I eventually transformed my diet and workout regimen completely. I started cooking at home and lifting weights more consistently. I replaced frozen diet meals and heavily processed foods with home-prepared meals. I drank mostly water and focused on whole sources of nutrients like nuts, fish, chicken, whole grains, vegetables, and fresh fruits. I started making fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies. I also got smarter about my meals away from home. I would prepare large batches of food and pack it into containers to have convenient, healthy meals at work. To this day, I still prepare about 90% of my meals at home, and my grocery list has evolved greatly. You can see the full list over at Wise-Eats.com/ApprovedFoods. Back then my diet was far from perfect, but I made small changes as I went along, and getting in the kitchen was a great place to start.
On August 16, 2010, 17 months after I started calorie counting, I had lost 87.4lbs. I was making wise choices and finally feeling great about my body, which was something I had never felt before. I had accomplished a massive goal, but now what was I gonna do? Little did I know I was about to enter one of the darkest periods of my life and that my battle for health had only just begun.
With no weight left to lose, I no longer had a specific fitness goal and was back to eating junk food nearly every day. As my routine deteriorated, my weight began to fluctuate and my immune system suffered. During Christmas of 2010, only 4 months after I had lost 90lbs, I got one of the worst flus of my life. You’d think that might be a wakeup call to start eating healthy again, but it wasn’t. Even after recovering, my food choices continued to be the worst they’d ever been. I was yo-yo dieting on an epic level and paying the price. In early 2011, I got the flu AGAIN, this time so bad that I temporarily lost vision and suffered some brief body paralysis. I was home alone, terrified, barely able to move, and wondering if I’d be able to stay conscious long enough to dial 9-1-1.
I was 90lbs lighter, and the healthiest I’d been my whole life, yet I was so sick I thought I might die. It was clear that my poor habits were severely affecting my health, but that was the least of my worries.
At the time, my girlfriend of six years was bedridden after suffering complications from two separate weight loss surgeries. Julie was too young and healthy to ever get them done in the first place, and although she fought hard to recover, the damage had been done. At just 25 years old, the weight loss surgeries took her life. It was another shocking, difficult time, and a major wake-up call. In a way, I believed I had failed her. I felt that if I had gotten my health on track sooner, I could’ve helped her, instead of just enabling her lifestyle choices and standing by during her surgeries. If I had been smarter, healthier, and more compassionate, maybe I could’ve inspired her to overcome her addictions the way I did. Looking back, I think her death inspired me to keep going. I was tired of being sick. I was tired of being overweight. I was tired of being sad. I was tired of being tired. And I had just watched another person that I loved die when if only I had my shit together maybe I could’ve done something to prevent it from happening. That’s why I knew I couldn’t let her loss be in vain and it confirmed that I needed to stay the path I was on. I hadn’t helped her, but I could still help myself and others. I knew that my transformation had only begun and that there was no turning back.
Since my initial weight loss in 2010, I’ve kept the 90lbs off and completely changed my lifestyle. My learning experience since then is what I look forward to sharing with everyone through Wise Eats. Today, at 35 years old, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and only getting stronger. I haven’t been sick in years and am crushing each day with energy I didn’t even know existed back in 2009. Now, I want to help people who face the same struggles I did and inspire those looking to improve their fitness.
So, that’s my 90lb weight loss story, but really, it’s only the beginning. In the next episode, I will share 10 weight loss tips that I learned from this experience. Be sure to subscribe on iTunes, YouTube, or wherever you’re hearing this, so you don’t miss out on future episodes.
When it comes to losing weight, making the commitment is the hardest part. We already know what we need to do, whether it’s exercise, diet, or willpower. That thing we need to do is already in the back of our mind, we just need to Wise Up and do it. Until we step up and actually commit to doing that thing, nothing is going to change. I knew my lifestyle habits were horrible, but I continued living in that vicious cycle until I decided that enough was enough. Finally taking control of my health changed everything for me. No matter what the circumstance is, stop just thinking about what you know you need to do and commit to doing it, no matter what.
Thanks for checking out second episode of Wise Eats. If you like what you’re hearing, please share with any friends or family that you think this story could benefit. If it can help even one person, then it is well worth putting out there. My dream is to help people become the best version of themselves. If you’re just listening to this, I encourage you to check out my YouTube channel where you can see me in person recording this podcast, along with pictures, videos, workout clips, and much more. The videos allow me to get much more creative, so I hope you check them out and enjoy watching. You can access everything at Wise-Eats.com, just search for Episode 2. Also, be sure to contact me and get a shout out on the show. Members of WCN with the best questions, YouTube comments, 5-star iTunes reviews, Facebook comments, or any interactions in general will get a shout out on future podcasts. So, become a part of Wise Choice Nation, and let’s all get better together. Until next time, thanks for listening, and remember to make Wise choices!