My Run To Success and Happiness
Grategatsby lost 92 pounds over the course of a year by overhauling his eating habits and adding exercise. He’s now an active, healthy, energetic man who loves to exercise. His story is an inspiration to all of us and demonstrates how dramatically we can all improve our health, fitness and enjoyment of life with the right approach and the right attitude.
He contacted us through our Share Your Story feature and provided the following answers to our questionnaire.
1. What made you decide to lose weight this time?
I spent a weekend in New York City with my mom, and she just could not enjoy the World's Greatest City. We couldn't walk two blocks without stopping, we'd have to go back to the hotel every 2 hours for her to cool down, and she was rarely happy. I knew I couldn't keep living a life that would lead me to that type of place.
I was also staring down the end of my 20s, and I felt if I didn't make changes before my 30th birthday, I probably never would.
2. What other "diets" (programs, products, plans, or services) had you tried in the past?
I had great success a few years back with Atkins, but it all came back. In college I messed around with over the counter and prescription diet pills, but I never made any life changing decisions, so I'd "improperly" get rid of the pounds, but I didn't get rid of how I got the poundage, so it'd come right back - and normally worse.
3. What changes did you make to your usual diet, activity, lifestyle, and attitude?
I took my options away. I live on a college campus, so I eat 80% of my calories in the campus dining center. I do not buy bad food anymore, so once the dining center is closed, I have nothing to choose from now except for the fruits and nuts in my apartment.
I took up running with the Couch To 5k program. I will always be an advocate for that system, because I know how much it helped me. Running got me back into the weight room, got me back on my bike, got me to go to aerobics classes, and got me into yoga. Once you've been the fat guy running around your neighborhood in broad daylight, how much more embarrassing can any other physical pursuit be? I keep a blog now of my workouts at http://365to30.tumblr.com/ where I'm hoping to track 365 workouts between my 29th & 30th birthdays.
I like to always say "If you want people to see the results, they've got to see the work," and I'd definitely say the lifestyle I keep now shows off the stark change between what I am and what I used to be.
4. How did Calorie Count help you to lose weight?
I first found this place by constantly googling how many calories were in this item or that food, and it must have been months before I realized this was a place, not just a tool! Once I joined I found a welcoming and supportive community, and I've found great ideas and options.
I'm fortunate to still have a very high maintenance calorie requirement, so I'm not counting every calorie (yet), but I do value the ability to come to Calorie Count and see a grade and the details when I'm considering what to put into my body.
5. What was most challenging about losing weight?
Starting. I don't want to jinx myself or brag, but once my mind and my will decided this is full-blown-war against the fat that has overtaken my body, I haven't had a "challenge" yet. I honestly have fallen in love with this process, and I know that was because my mind bought into it and my body followed suit; like General Patton said, "If you are going to win any battle, you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do... the body is never tired if the mind is not tired."
6. How long did it take you to see results?
I felt results after a week. It took me about a month to really see changes in the mirrors, and within 3 months I was already proud.
7. When did you realize that you were a success?
I see pictures now and wonder who that guy is. Last month I competed in our school's "Dancing with the Staff" and one of the judges basically said it would have been a much different performance if I hadn't lost the weight, and the crowd of students just gave me a round of applause. How many people actually have had hundreds of people clapping for their success?
8. How do you prevent relapse?
I still have miles to go. But I'm not too afraid because my mind has changed, my tastes are different, and my idea of "fun" is different. I'm signing up for my first triathlon this summer. I love yoga now. I couldn't imagine giving up these things to go back to candy bars and gallons of milk.
9. How has your life changed now that you've lost weight?
The problem with being that kind of obese is that you feel both Invisible and Always On Display. Now when I go out I'm not worried about who is looking at me, and now I'm also proud of who is looking over in my direction.
I've always been a "Free Spirit" but now I don't feel like a punchline.
10. What five tips do you have for other dieters?
- Set goals. If you don't know where you're going, you'll never get there. And even if you don't meet your goal exactly, you'll still be better off than if you never tried.
- Plan, but don't lose your flexibility. I can tell you what my focus is for every month this year. Can I tell you exactly what workout I'm going to do on July 18th? No, but I know what my focus is going to be that month.
- Take things away from yourself. Go a month without eating meat, you'll discover all sorts of veggies and fruits you never would have thought to eat. Go a month without eating sweets, when you get back to them you'll be SHOCKED at just how strong those Little Debbies are, and maybe you'll only eat 1 instead of 4 next time.
- Diversify and have fun. If you have 100 pounds to lose, you're going to be fighting this for at least a year, more realistically 2 years. You probably already have one job you hate, so do whatever you can to spend the next year or two enjoying your weight loss.
- Give all you've got. Then take 5 deep breaths and give some more.
If you would like us to feature your success story, you can submit it here. The most insightful stories will be featured on this blog and in the weekly "Success Stories" newsletter.