I sort of realized as I’m typing this that there were so many factors in me gaining weight. I decided to break this up into two parts. Part I is like the foundation of my weight gain. Part II will be the weight loss portion. Sorry for the long read.
Part I, Weight Gain
When I was in high school I wasn’t involved in much. I tried skateboarding, but I wasn’t into breaking bones as easily as my friends were. It was almost like a rite of passage, the skating kids wouldn’t include you if you didn’t break your arm attempting to pull off a fakie backside off their homemade box ramp. I just found myself wanting to ride my bike or attempt skating and surfing. Needless to say, I wasn’t the star athlete of my hometown, I was just a regular teen just finding my place in life.
As a teen I never struggled with weight or body image, I was tall, lean, and always active. It wasn’t until I started dating my wife that we both discovered we had shared a love of many things, one most important: FOOD.
We never ate at home, all of our meals were either fast food, diner, or chain restaurants. We ate what we wanted whenever we wanted. I went from being a lanky 168 lbs. to 200 lbs. in what seemed like overnight. None of my clothes fit and I started to become very self-conscious and started building a negative body image. I would try to hide behind bulky jackets and clothing during the cooler months and then squirm with self-doubt and discomfort in the warmer months. I avoided my picture being taken and stayed away from anything that would draw attention to me. Aside from my marriage and two wonderful children, nothing else seemed to ever go right. I had no confidence, and no spine when it came to being bullied at work. My co-workers and superiors had zero confidence in me and I was belittled and pushed into a corner. I just assumed this was my place in life.
The only outlet I had I was being involved with the local volunteer fire company and would regularly attend weekly training exercises and drills. I remember my skewed thought process when it came to physical fitness and wellness. I thought one night of intense activity was my healthy gateway to justify eating garbage throughout the rest of the week.
“I thought one night of intense activity was my healthy gateway to justify eating garbage throughout the rest of the week.”
Then it happened, well two things happened: First, it was like I had something to prove, I obtained firefighting certification after firefighting certification and just never felt satisfied. I was missing out on my young family’s early milestones and my wife and I hit a really rough patch in our relationship. Second, I wasn’t feeling good, I was always sick, always out of breath and just tired all the time. One night during RIT (rapid intervention team) training I was the lucky firefighter that got the role of “victim” or “downed firefighter” and had to be rescued by my peers. As I felt my fellow team members struggle to rescue me (my weight: 260 lbs plus the added weight of fire gear: 80+ lbs), I came to the scary realization that had this been a real scenario, we all would have been dead.
That’s when I knew, something had to change. And here’s the thing about change; it can’t be comfortable or easy. When you make a comfortable and easy change, you are setting yourself up for failure. When you make a change, commit to the new process and don’t look back!
“… here’s the thing about change; it can’t be comfortable or easy. When you make a comfortable and easy change, you are setting yourself up for failure. When you make a change, commit to the new process and don’t look back!”
First, my work was a toxic environment, the management there was inadequate at best, and the atmosphere didn’t make it any better. I was killing myself for mediocre pay and thought working overtime was the key to making a healthy living. My boss would play mind-games with me and belittle my contributions. I was reminded on a weekly basis how much I cost the company, and how it would be cheaper for them to outsource my work. I was constantly in fear of losing my job. Being in a constant state of worry led to stress eating and mentally just wore me out. I was tired all the time and was starved for energy. I would consume 2-3 energy drinks a day, eat fast food and candy (because it was convenient and easily obtained), and actually thought smoking would help curb cravings. I even took caffeine pills on a few occasions to stay awake at work and dabbled in weight loss pills to help control my eating habits.
People, are you reading what I’m writing?! Looking back, I must have been mental! There were so many warning signs that after 5 years of slogging it out, making the decision to quit was long overdue. When I left that job, I weighed somewhere in the ballpark of 260+ lbs., I say ballpark because I refused to weigh myself because I knew the number would bring me down.
Part II, Weight Loss
Let’s take a look at a few things: It wasn’t until I left my crappy, toxic career behind and decided to embark on a new journey, that I discovered a few life lessons.
Life Lessons Learned:
Lesson 1. Get rid of toxicity in your life! Whether it be a nagging boss, negative influencers in your life, so-called “friends”, watching the news, social media, think about what brings you down and let it go. Then take a moment and think about who you want to be. Then surround yourself with like-minded people and take the first step in what I like to call a lifestyle cleanse.
Lesson 2. You can’t outwork a bad diet. One night of intense physical activity is not enough to keep you in shape. On the same token, smoking, or popping pills, or weight loss gimmicks are nothing but smoke and mirrors. Ditch the gimmicks and commit to something more tangible and real. Join a gym and meet with a trainer to develop a fitness program. I stress, fitness program, and not weight loss program because you need to change your mindset and not view this as a once-and-done program. This is a lifestyle change.
Lesson 3. Pardon my French, but EAT REAL FUCKING FOOD! Stop eating junk, stop eating what’s convenient and fast, and start eating shit you can pronounce! The simpler the ingredients the better. Veggies are your friend, and friends help you out and lift you up. Ditch the crap and start investing in your health with real food.
Lesson 4. Love and encourage your partner. So much of my success comes from the love and support of my wife. Together we supported each other’s goals and together we’ve accomplished great things. Take a moment and express gratitude for what/who makes you feel good and do what you can to reciprocate that positive energy.
Lesson 5. Do what you love. Running can be a love/hate relationship and I find the more I run, the more I appreciate this lifelong friend. We have our ups and downs, and we learn from one another – just like life. Live and learn and don’t give up what you love.