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From Fat Man to Batman… Kinda

At my heaviest I weighed 270 lbs.  My day started with a Large double double.  For those not from Canada, that’s a coffee with 2, 18% creams and 2 heaping spoon fulls of sugar.  It’s basically liquid candy.

By 10 am it was time for another pupil dilating dose.  Throw in a couple more throughout the day, about 4 or 5 and you never really feel any heavier than the wind.  Your organs however, are working overtime to dump and process all this useless intake.

At the time, I was in my mid 20’s working a sales job and spent my days sitting at a desk in front of a computer.  The only exercise I was getting was the walk from my office to the car.  It was literally 100 steps away.

I was eating fast food daily.  A Wendy’s double burger with bacon and cheese, large fries and the biggest coke they had for lunch.  Then a couple McDonald’s double cheese burgers for the ride home.  The only vegetables I was eating were the grease soaked lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and onions on the burgers.

Oh!

We can’t forget the deliciously fried and salted potato sticks on the side.

Not being able to see my tools past the shed… if you know what I’m saying… should have been a wake up call.  Don’t ya think?

Nooooooope!

Being damn near 100 lbs over weight.  Eating nothing but bread, sugar, heavily processed meats, more caffeine than a horse could handle.  Living a sedentary lifestyle. Coupled with the complete absence of nutrition and a heart condition.  Is what I believe led to the addition of an implanted defibrillator, due to an episode of tachycardia, that, ultimately made me one of the younger subjects of biomechanics.

Probably should have tried to loose the weight though, hey?

It wasn’t until about 10 years after having my new battery pack installed, that I would push at working out and loosing the weight.  Initially, I did cut down and stop eating so much fast food.  Over a few years I slowly shrunk down to 245 lbs.  Ended up finding a job that had me on my feet 9hrs a day.  2 years at that job and I would get down to 230 lbs.

You might be thinking, “damn that’s a slow ass transformation”.

See, when you have a device implanted in you, acting as back up so you don’t die.  It messes with your head and creates a lot of anxiety around physical activity.  Preventing you from really pushing yourself hard.  For me that was a major mental hurdle.

Every time I would start to get my heart rate up, I would be in a heightened state of awareness.  If it was at 90 beats a minute.  I felt like it was at 180.  Again this was all mental and eventually I got over it.

Now I can say that I am the healthiest I have ever been.  Eating considerably healthier than ever and aware of my heart rate when I’m working out.  But no longer afraid of it.

I’m down to 200 lbs, at 5 foot 11 inches tall.  My target body weight, based on the body mass index.  Says that I should be around 180 lbs.  I am still working towards it.  I was down to 195 at one point, then started using free weights to fill in.  Nothing heavy because of my battery pack, but, still able to rebuild a “solid muscular foundation”. (I put that in quotes so you could read it with a Schwarzenegger voice. Go ahead try it out, it’s fun.)  I’ll wait a second…

I’m not going to be posing for Men’s Health or Muscle and Fitness any time soon but I can very confidently say that I have a new shape and it’s not pear.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, that you can find any countless number of reasons not to change your lifestyle.  Weather it’s fear of loosing out, fear of failure, or just pretending like you don’t have the time.

Being divorced with 3 kids, working about 50 hours a week on a rotating shift.  I completely understand the obstacles.  I didn’t wake up one day and head down to the gym and start running on a treadmill.  In fact I hate running.  I still don’t do it, but I probably should.  I just tell myself I don’t need to, I look good and running is hard…  Do you see what I did there?  Take a second, let it sink in…

Changing any aspect of your life takes baby steps.  As long as you know what you want, you can achieve it.  Start with the fundamentals.  Gradually and slowly build a foundation that will prop you up when you slip from time to time.

Here’s what I did.  First step was to cut out the fast food lunches and snacks.  I let myself have the coffee, because I wasn’t ready to give it up.  But I limited it to 3 a day.  The first one was a large.  Then a medium mid morning.  Then the same mid afternoon.  I slipped up a lot in the beginning.  I’d look at my lunch and think, “…but Wendy’s is so much better, I’ll just grab that and leave this for tomorrow.”  That happened pretty consistently throughout the first month.  Eventually I got ticked off at myself for not being able to follow through.

Slowly strengthening my will power and self discipline by eating home made lunches. Made it much easier to let go of my need for liquid candy.  By the time I was ready to cut that out.  All I had to do, was decide.  Decide I was going to make my coffee at home.  It was a bit of a let down at first.  Didn’t quite taste as good.  I was still putting cream and sugar in it, but the cream was maybe 10%.  With just one, NOT heaping spoonful of sugar.  Gradually over time it became as tasty as the coffee I had been buying. Eventually it lead me to adding coconut oil and milk, instead of cream and sugar.

While on the path to better nutrition.  I end up having a discussion with a friend of mine, who had decided to eliminate wheat from his diet.  Finding out, that it promotes inflammation and bloating and is considerably harder on the digestive process, leaving you feeling heavy and lethargic.  I thought, “that makes a lot of sense, I’m going to try it for a month”.  So when I got home, this time I actually did empty my cupboards.  I took all the bread I had and tossed it.

Getting rid of bread, you start to realize how much of a staple it is in every meal.  It’s one of the harder sacrifices I’ve had to make.  But at this point I don’t miss it.  I will be honest. If I go out to eat, I don’t avoid it, I eat it.  I just decided that the best way to moderate it, was not having it in the house.

I can honestly say, that its absence promotes a certain level of imagination when making meals.  It does do a good job of forcing the addition of vegetables or fruits to them as well.   No longer having that bloating filler inflaming your digestive tract makes you feel much lighter and energetic too.  The trick to succeeding at weight loss is not deprivation. It’s building self discipline and will power.

Most people overwhelm themselves, changing their entire diet and overloading their physical capabilities right out of the gate.  Ideally, taking small steps, like slowly removing one unhealthy choice at a time and taking the appropriate period to adjust to the change, is most effective.

Give yourself a simple plan.  Plan to remove that bag of chips at night, or the coffee in the afternoon.  Make your lunch for work.  If you can’t do that, make your dinner at home. Try not eating bread for a month.  Go super simple and just eliminate sugar from your coffee.  All it takes is making one small change, sticking to that change and allowing the benefits to out weigh the sacrifice.  Patience leads to progress.

Our brains want to trick us.  It wants us to seek out immediate gratification.  Satisfaction of its adolescent need for pleasure.  It’s like having a 3 year old at the controls, pulling leavers and mashing buttons.  It’s chaos.  We have to tell it how to think.

Changing what you put in your body and how much.  Is the first step.  The addition of an exercise plan further embeds the mental and physical fortitude to promote those changes.  Keep it simple.  Build momentum slowly.  Be competitive with your failures. Reflect on your progress with pride.  Eventually when you look down at the scale.  You won’t just see numbers and your feet.  The foundation you’ve built will fill the landscape.

I know you’ve heard it before that, nutrition is a life style change.  It absolutely is but it doesn’t have to be insurmountable.  It should be enjoyable.  Challenging and most importantly inspiring.  Don’t get caught up in the immediate gratification.  Realistically it’s a time to patiently absorb, recognize and feel the subtle difference in a changing body.  What a lot of people don’t tell you, is that changing what you ingest will seemingly go unnoticed.

One day, the realization of new found energy levels catch you buy surprise.  Next thing you know you’re not reaching for that 3pm cup of coffee or sugary pick me up.  Oddly this new found energy is actually most noticeable when you slip up.  You grab that burger on the way home because you don’t have time and you have to get the kids.  Or rushing to a meeting and you need something to fuel your brain.  Once that initial rush of calories wears off.  You’re left lethargic and stuck.

I have recommended to friends in the past, that they try getting rid of bread for a week. Upon completion of that week, add bread to dinner on the weekend.  See how you feel for the next few hours.  Almost every one reported back, After eating that meal a-la bread, they just wanted to go to sleep.  They felt heavy footed.  As if they were stone giants trying to walk over quick sand.

The decision to loose weight, reshape your body and become healthier is one of the hardest decisions anyone can make.  It’s all encompassing.  Most of us think we should start running or going to the gym to burn off the calories.  Inevitably, what we learn, or what we should learn, is that adding exercise to our daily routine will shed some pounds in the beginning, but our bodies are adaptive and there is no substitute for the recommended fuel type.  If your not properly prepared for your engines output, your going to burn out.

You can and will loose weight just buy limiting and restructuring your daily intake.   So start there.  Slowly and steadily change the octane your putting in your system.  Once your comfortable with the lower growl of your engine and the quicker launch off the line.  Then start adding some exercise.

Like learning a new skill the foundation of change is built on the fundamentals.  Slowly build your nutritional skill set.  Commanding that, will propel you into greater physical accomplishments, which in turn will solidify your self discipline and will power. Ultimately, providing you with resilience and maybe even a slightly cocky smile in the face of adversity.

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