There are few things more difficult in this life than trying to maintain a healthy weight. I have struggled with it my whole life, watching the scale going up and down like a ping pong ball. When I got married I was in a good spot. I had lost a lot of weight while living in Peru, since I barely had two pennies to rub together and ate only one full meal a day. But after coming back to the States and getting married, we enjoyed wedded bliss along with plenty of food and desserts. We were happy and carefree.
I noticed my pant and shirt sizes were going up but didn’t give it much importance until I realized how hard it was getting to chase my kids around, get up from the couch and pick things up off the floor. I stepped on the scale at a yearly check up and it glared back at me with a whopping 290 lbs. The doctor prescribed a complete blood panel and suggested I begin an exercise routine, especially cardio. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I seemed normal enough. My size 44 pants were even a little loose.
I got bloodwork results back from the doctor and I had high cholesterol, my good cholesterol was low and my sugar was borderline. So I started looking for exercise videos on youtube and found a 30 minute aerobic workout. I read the commentaries and those that tried it said they quit after just 5 minutes because it was too intense. I saw it as a challenge and told myself I was going to do the whole 30 minutes, with God’s help, for my children and my wife.
I started with three times a week and let me tell you, it was not easy! The instructor had us jumping all over the place and then I did sit ups for 10 minutes afterwards. It wore me out, but I kept it up for nine months and never gave up. I had lost 40 lbs and was now at 250. Summertime arrived and I was so sick of exercising that I lowered my intensity to once or twice a week and I allowed myself my fair share of ice cream, so I gained 10lbs back.
Once fall arrived, I looked up how much a man my height should weigh and it said 160-196 lbs, so I made a goal for myself to get down to 220 and I returned to my former exercise routine, adding 30 minutes of stationary bike on the off days. But I seemed to have plateaued and every time I got on the scale it still said 260. I talked about it with my wife and she said that I needed to change my diet as well. She found me a Weight Watchers book and we began counting our points together. Each food has a certain number of points according to calories, fat grams, and dietary fiber and each person is alloted a certain number of points according to their height and current weight. As you begin to lose, your points decrease so you can continue losing.
It was a huge sacrifice, but I stopped eating chocolate chip cookies, cheese, milk and bread products, stopped drinking Coke, and began drinking lots of water. I lost 10 lbs the first week… I was floored! I did not lose quite as much during the following weeks but continued to lose steadily. I looked up videos on what to eat for breakfast and lunch and began to analyze what my body needed to remain active without being so hungry all the time. I realized that oatmeal made me anxious and I was hungry again an hour later. Two eggs didn’t fill me up, nor did cereal. One day I tried eating a grapefruit and a breakfast salad of tuna with celery and grape tomatoes, and realized it was perfect. Between breakfast and lunch I would have piece of fruit or a cup of cereal to tide me over.
For lunch I would make myself a big salad with tuna, lettuce and spinach and just fresh lime juice and salt for dressing, along with a can of soup. This menu has been a great help for the past 20 months. When I have a hankering for something sweet, I enjoy ¼ cup of prunes and that helps to take the edge off.
There have been many difficult moments along this weight-loss journey, especially when I really want something sweet. I have to calm myself down, drink water and ask the Good Lord for His help. These moments of temptation happen quite often but thankfully I have been able to resist. I would always give myself a free day on Sundays and eat whatever I wanted. That way I didn’t feel completely trapped and without treats. I saw the numbers on the scale continue to go down and my clothes getting looser and looser until one day I was down to 205 lbs! I couldn’t believe it! I had lost 85 lbs and felt like a different person! I am still tired quite often, since I am almost 40 and my active boys keep me busy, but I am in a much better spot and am so happy.
For the past few months I have been maintaining. I continue eating the same diet Monday through Friday afternoon and then enjoy the weekend eating what I wish. I usually gain 5-7 lbs over the weekend and then shed them back off during the week to remain right around 210 lbs.
It is still a constant battle, as I struggle with anxiety, fatigue, and a big sweet tooth, but somehow I always find the motivation to continue on with diet and exercise. My children, my wife and my God are my motivation. They give me the strength to continue on. Even when it’s really hot or really cold, I continue consistently because I want to feel better, and now I have much more energy and am able to do much more.
I wanted to share my story because I know so many can relate to it, whether it be in the arena of food, exercise and weight, or some other habit. We all have our own struggles, our own motivations and our own levels of faith. May you find the motivation you need to be the best you possible!