During my teenage years, I was very good at three things: sports, enraging my parents, and eating a lot. Baseball, soccer, and roller hockey were the sports I would play all the time. Growing up, I had no nutritional knowledge or education. I would not see any harm in eating 4 to 5 big meals a day. Everything from enchiladas, massive industrial-size burritos, and throat-scrapping cheap soda were part of my diet. People often asked “how the heck could you eat like that and not gain weight?”. If they could time travel 5 years ahead, they would see Murphy’s law play out on a “grand scale”.
Looking back, there was two reasons why I was staying physically decent during my late teenage years. The first was my daily sports activities, it was common for us to play 2-3 hours a day. The second was the fast metabolism most of us have when we are young. After the sport activities and metabolism slowed, I was automatically enrolled in the bad weight watchers club. In this club, I literally “watched” my weight balloon up to an unhealthy 288 pounds!
My Weight Gain
In college, my days of playing sports vanished and my eating habits went from bad to worse. For example, a 12-pack of healthy oatmeal bars would disappear in one night of playing Diablo 2. Being a video gamer doesn’t help either, as it involves hours of sitting per week. You know those family size bag of lays potato chips? I would dump the ENTIRE BAG in a big plate, add hot sauce (I love you, Mr. Tapatio and Gringo Bandito), and eat the whole thing during a movie. The scary part is, I did this for years – until my early 30’s in fact. I ignored the negative effects of an unhealthy eating habit during this time of my life.
After college and doing some job bouncing for a few years, life really happened for me. Marriage, kids, rent, bills, and elevated job stress. Who doesn’t want job stress, right? I settled into a busy routine that most of us have experience with. With my unchanged eating habits and life moving fast, my weight skyrocketed. Having fast food for breakfast, lunch and dinner was very common. The result was me becoming the heaviest I have ever been, 288 Pounds.
Deciding To Make A Change
At this point in my early 30’s, I had been overweight for over 15 years. Family pictures were something I dreaded being a part of. I would usually place items in front of me (like my kids) to hide my “happy rolls”. When shopping for clothes, I would get them a few sizes bigger to be comfortable. These of course, made me look bigger than I already was. My kids have always been very important to me, I want to be there for them. Attending their college graduation, their wedding, and becoming a grandpa was something I would think about.
Being 100 pounds overweight can’t help anyone be around for their kids in the long run. This reason should be the only reason anyone needs to get motivated and become healthier. However, this was not the only reason I decided to change. It took another unexpected reason to start losing weight. While moving some boxes around the house, I managed to injure my lower back. After seeing the doctor, I walked away with two choices: live in constant pain, or lose weight and minimize pain. For those reading this with chronic lower back pain, you know how bothersome and uncomfortable this is.
My Doctor did not sugar coat it, he simply gave me great advice. You are 100% in control of how you live the rest of your life. Those were the words he said that I still remember and live by today. This was the turning point in my life. I had enough inspiration, motivation, and a big reason to make a change.
My weight loss journey begins
After I finished cursing the box that caused all my pain (it was a box full of old plumbing parts), I took to the internet for weight loss research. My knowledge of nutrition was close to zero at this point, but I knew that to lose weight, I needed to eat better. Most people beginning their weight loss journey encounter all the fat loss diet programs first. They are everywhere, from TV, radio, and internet ads. At the time of my initial weight loss journey, I came across Herbalife.
My co-worker at the time was selling Herbalife as his “business idea” of the month – he always had the entrepreneur spirit (entreMANURE is what he called it). They got me started with taking a shake twice a day, with a “sensible” meal in between. With Herbalife, I managed to lose about 20 pounds in about 3 months. However, Herbalife quickly became expensive with their shake and pill requirements. Additionally, my co-worker had moved on to his next business idea and my supply ran dry. During these 3 months however, I got motivated and encouraged knowing that losing weight is completely achievable.
Learn From Everything – Even Fad Diets!
After Herbalife, I joined Weight Watchers. In about 18 months, I lost about 40 pounds. This program teaches people two important concepts in successful weight loss. The first concept is nutritional education. Weight Watchers rewards users for eating healthy food items and penalizes for eating junk. The concept this program teaches is slow, progressive weight loss. The long process of losing weight has the benefit of creating healthy eating habits. Long term weight loss success depends on these two important concepts.
After a year and a half with Weight Watchers, I felt confident enough to plan my own meals, make healthy food choices, and continue losing weight without using my toes to count points. Diet programs get a bad rep these days in the forums and communities. People talk about them not working in the long run, and how they will make you gain double the fat once we stop with the program. However, the biggest benefits in these programs are that it gets people started and educated. If you feel your nutritional knowledge is lacking, a program like Weight Watchers can help you get started.
The Next Level – Meal Prep And Exercise For The Win
Without a doubt, when I introduced Mr. Exercise to Mrs. Meal Prep – sparks went off and I started to blast fat right off my body. My starting workout routine was 5 days a week, for about one hour each day. At first, I concentrated on cardio, but I wish I had started resistance training earlier. I highly recommend starting resistance training early on, there is a lot of information out there on the fat-burning benefits of pushing weight around.
With meal prep, I started with microwavable frozen veggies, steaming brown rice, and grilling meat for the week. I slowly moved on to making egg omelets, tasty oatmeal, protein pancakes, and much more. Cooking was never my thing, but with practice, I became dangerous at it. After only a few months of meal prepping and working out, family and friends were complementing my weight loss.
You are probably saying “But Daniel, you make this sound so easy”, and I need to say to you that it’s not. I was not born a cook, a nutritional expert, nor was I born with the ability to add more hours to my day and dismiss the laws of physics. You need to go through the process of learning the basics of nutrition, cooking, and time management one day at a time. I am your normal citizen that you can find occasionally at an ice cream shop. Weight loss is a journey that initially is a rough ride, but I promise you it is worth it. My back to this day still bothers me a little bit, but due to my weight loss, the pain is far less. I am able to play with my kids in the yard, and I am passing down my healthy habits to them.
Goals And You
Currently, I have lost over 100 pounds and my body seems to hover around the 180 lbs mark. My hopes with this blog is to get someone out there inspired, even if it’s just one person. This blog will have everything I’ve learned during my journey, including meal prep tips, healthy recipes, some cool products I use, and exercise advice. I still have some fitness goals I would like to reach, and if you are reading this, you may have been thinking about setting your own. My advice would be to stop thinking about it, go with what you know, and just start. Learning along the way is better than waiting for a perfect plan. As General Patton said: “A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week”.
For most of us, our bodies are constructed from 80% diet, and 20% physical activity. I have dedicated most of my blogging efforts on the diet part, since you cannot out-exercise a bad diet. By preparing and planning most meals, anyone can achieve their weight loss goals like I did.
Here is a special section on my website dedicated to helping anyone get started preparing meals for weight loss. I hope you enjoyed reading my weight loss story and that it inspired you to do the same.