Saturday, December 31, 2011

Battling the bulge - it is possible

The start of a new year, the start of a new weight loss goal. That’s the routine for a lot of people and this year I’m one of them.

Maintaining a healthy weight has always been a struggle for me. I’ve never been a fitness expert, but I’ve always tried to keep up with the latest information and trends in weight loss and dieting. Now, after losing 30 lbs. in the last 10 months, I feel like I’m finally on the right track. I can still stand to lose some weight and tone up, so this year that’s what I’m going to do.

I wasn’t always overweight. I was really fit when I was in grade school – one of the fastest runners in my class. Then again, I was also very active.

I was usually out until the streetlights came on – riding my bike or playing at the park across the street from my house.

Then I discovered this wonderful thing called the Internet – more specifically AOL.
America Online and my computerized X-Men video game were definitely the two contributors to the belly that I’m still trying to get rid of today.

Packing on the lbs.

From middle school until college my weight went on a steady incline towards unhealthiness. During my freshman year of college I gained the fabled Freshmen 15. Caramel rolls available for breakfast every morning made it real easy to go past the 200 lb. mark. By the end of my sophomore year I was at 215 lbs.

The next two years I lost some weight – getting back down to 198. During those two years I was a Resident Assistant, which meant I was on duty about six or seven times a month. Each time I was on duty, I went on rounds three to four times a night – across the building and up and down the four flights of stairs. I also started playing racquetball on a semi-regular basis. Even that little bit of physical activity really helped. The other thing that helped was sleeping in. As a result I usually skipped breakfast. That probably wasn’t the healthiest thing to do, but it did work. I ate lunch and dinner at the student union and tried my best not to have any snacks in my room.

I hadn’t really made it an objective to lose weight during those last two years of college, but since I did I figured I might as well take advantage of it. In the summer of 2008 I joined the local CrossFit – a 45-minute mix of weight lifting and cardio. I got down to 195 lbs.. I had to actually buy some new clothes, including three new suits. The clothes I was wearing at 215 lbs. looked so loose and baggy on me.

2 years later

In December 2010 I spent a lot of time sitting at home, sending out resumes, searching for jobs online and filling out application forms. It was the holidays and I was out of work, so I indulged in a little comfort food.

Come March, about 9 p.m. the Sunday before I started my first day of work at my new job, I decided to pick out my clothes. I figured I’d get this task done ahead of time and give myself me an extra five minutes to sleep in the next morning.

I found a shirt and pair of dress pants that would work, but to be on the safe side I figured I’d better try them on.

Sure enough: they didn’t fit. It wasn’t a ‘suck in your gut a little bit and it’ll be alright’ situation. It was a case of ‘there’s no way in Hell these pants are going to zip up.’

I tried on another pair. Same thing. Another after that. Same thing. I tried on every pair of dress pants I owned. One of them fit because it had a hidden elastic waistband. None of my jeans fit except for the pair that used to be too big.

I stepped on the scale and saw the harsh truth. 221 lbs. I’d never weighed that much in my life.

I told myself, from that moment on, I was going to lose weight until I was healthy again.

Shedding the weight

An opportunity came up for me to move from South Dakota to Charlotte, North Carolina in the spring of 2011. Once I moved there, I immediately took advantage of the nice weather by dusting off my tennis shoes and running on a regular basis.

Well, it wasn’t so much running. More like jogging. Actually it was more like jogging for about a block and then walking for a block and a half. Jog a little bit, walk for a while. That was my routine.

I was really out of shape.

Honestly, I’ve never been a big fan of running. If I wanted going to go exercise I would hop on my bike and ride several miles. The only time in recent years that I did any running at all it was while playing soccer or racquetball – and I only did that a few times a year.

I’d always felt foolish, running around with my belly jiggling all over. Since I was so out of shape I figured I must’ve looked pretty foolish too.

It was different in Charlotte though.

So many people were outside walking dogs or pushing their babies in strollers. Kids were riding their bicycles. People of all ages were walking, jogging and running. It probably helped that I didn’t know any of them, but for the first time I just didn’t care about how foolish I looked. I was busy focusing on my weight loss goal.

While I still can’t say I enjoy it, running sure is an effective way to burn calories. I ran three or four times a week for about 45 minutes. After a while I started losing weight. It gradually came off, little by little.


This morning I weighed 192.4 lbs. From 221 lbs. to 192 lbs. Looking back I can’t believe I had an additional 30 lbs. on my frame. It was less than a year ago too. That’s perhaps what I’m most surprised about.

I still remember looking down at the scale and seeing 221 lbs. It seemed like such a daunting task to get to a ‘normal’ weight.

I think what really helped is that I didn’t set a specific weight loss goal. I knew that I had to lose weight, eat healthier and be more active, so instead of setting a goal of losing 30 lbs. I set a goal to live healthier.

After 10 months of putting in the effort, the weight is staying off. While I’m still not a big fan of running, I do feel a sense of accomplishment each time I get out there.

I still have a lot of work to do, but, just like I did this past year, I plan on taking it one small step at a time. While I don’t have an exact goal in mind, I know that I could stand to lose another 15 lbs. At that point I should be much more toned up than I am right now.

That’s my end goal: I want to be able to take off my shirt and not have to suck in my gut. I’m tired of seeing fat rolls when I’m sitting down.

I can’t really imagine slimming down to 175 lbs. but after this past year, I know it’s possible.