On March 8, 2015, I had to go to the doctor to get a couple prescriptions updated.
As part of the normal check-up, as is with every visit to the doctor’s office, I had to step on the scale.
It was a number I didn’t like. (honestly, is there anyone who really does like the number they see when they step on a scale?)
But I didn’t do much to change the number I saw.
Ever since middle school, I was always the chubby kid. It wasn’t much different in high school.
I ate whatever I wanted and as much as I wanted, generally not stopping until I felt full.
When I got to college, not much changed. Sure, I’d go on a couple binges during which I’d pledge to eat better and work out in the student activity centers.
Those plans never lasted very long.
But still, as the number on the scale slowly increased, often approaching my breaking point — 300 — I never cared too much to change my habits.
These pictures are from early in 2011; a mere months before I graduated college. I don’t know what the scale said during these times, but I’m sure I didn’t like it. I know for a fact it wasn’t north of that dreaded number, though. Still, just take a look, I wasn’t too far from it.
Four years ago, I watched as a friend of mine Garrett Gagnon — coincidentally the kid who started in front of me in both positions I played in football, as well as in baseball — drop a bunch of weight, get in shape and look, well, good.
Seeing his results was the motivation I needed to kick things into gear, get off my ass and do something about myself. I had let myself go for far too long and I was ready for a change.
For eight weeks, with the help of a handful of friends, we went through the Seung Ni Body Challenge in Saginaw. Despite working nights, not getting much sleep to attend early morning classes with my friends — we joined as a group to hold each other accountable, but our schedules rarely matched so we could attend a fitness class at the same time. Therefore, I was the one who bit the bullet and sacrificed sleep — I busted my butt in the gym, ate exceptionally well (compared to the way I was before) and was more conscious of what I was consuming.
I started the competition at 281 pounds and finished at 255. I felt great. I looked pretty damn good, too. See?
To no surprise, the weight was put back on. I don’t know how long it took or exactly how much was gained, but I stopped working out and the weight came back. I had reverted to my old ways of being relatively sedentary and ate poorly.
Much like when I was younger, I didn’t really seem to care.
It’s not that I ate junk food every day, but I was less and less diligent about the food I ate.
I was content with where my life was. A few months after the above picture was taken, I started traveling across the country and later the globe for work, and I had very sporadic schedules, often leading to eating quick, unhealthy meals when I was able to sneak food.
At the same time, on these road trips I was drinking. A lot. Talk about empty calories, but it was a way for my me and my co-workers to cope with the stress we were dealing with at the time with the long, strenuous hours we were putting in. (I once worked 216 hours in three weeks. I don’t think I’ll ever log that much work ever again.)
But as I got thicker, most likely putting on more weight than what I had lost in the first place, it didn’t faze me.
In June 2013, I moved to Portland, Indiana, to start my full-time journalism career.
I had no idea what I was in for; logging more than 40 hours a week (and often more than 50), getting used to the routine all the while experiencing a new city and state. I would often spend hours in the office working or out covering an event, so I was rarely at my apartment to cook or make food.
So, microwaved dinners and fast food on the road was how I ate most of the time.
Still, I didn’t care much about the number on the scale. Honestly I didn’t own one, nor did I want to own one.
I’m sure I’d be correct in saying my weight was closer to the dreaded number than ever before. I had always told myself the number would be the final straw; if, and once, I got there it would be the end-all of that current lifestyle.
I’d work out at the community center on occasion, taking advantage of one- or three-month specials, but never keeping with the routine.
I wasn’t necessarily pleased with my weight and health, but I wasn’t very unhappy about it either. I lacked true motivation to change because I didn’t see anything wrong with it, although I knew of the possible long-term damage that could be done; hypertension (runs in the family), diabetes (runs in the family), high cholesterol (runs in the family).
Still, that appeared to not be enough of a drive to make a change. I was content.
I tried to get back on a health kick — one that I dubbed my New Me Journey — following that doctor’s appointment.
It started partly because of my visit to the doctor, but also because I had come across the above picture of me and Jill. It was the best I had looked in as long as I can remember. I loved the way I felt then and I wanted to get back to that weight again.
But also to lose more weight.
I bought some equipment (dumbbells, exercise ball, and a mat. I have hardwood floors) to work out in my apartment in March 2015, but it proved to be too convenient. It was there. Always in my apartment. I figured it would be easy enough to work out if I didn’t have to go anywhere to do so.
The convenience of the workout equipment wasn’t the drive I needed. I was less likely to work out at home because I didn’t have to force myself go anywhere. It was a failed attempt at getting back to the way I was in May 2012.
As young boys, who is our first mentor, our first idol?
It was my dad that gave me my new drive.
My father had always been a big guy.
Apparently cancer changes a man.
Dad had always weighed more than me, but at 63 years old he decided to become more conscientious about his weight and do something about it.
In nearly a year’s time, my dad has shed nearly 100 pounds. He’s more active, looks like a million bucks and was the driving force for the rest of my family to start getting our weight in check.
He weighs less than me now.
My mother has lost weight and is healthier. Me and my brothers — with incentive from our parents — began our own health journey on the first of the year, with a little competition to see who could lose the most weight in six weeks.
I started at 282.4 pounds. I came in third.
I don’t know their starting weights, but here is what the three of us shed in six weeks:
Ben — 21.0John — 13.1Chris — 10.8
We took off nearly 45 pounds collectively. Not too bad.
I don’t want to make excuses for finishing last (hey, nice guys finish last, right?!), but my work schedule, especially in January and February, is very sporadic and hectic. It was difficult for me to pin down a routine to where I could prepare meals, eat them accordingly and still find time to hit the gym.
But, getting down to 271.6 was good enough for me, all things considered.
Not done yet
The first 10 pounds was a great step in the right direction, but I wasn’t satisfied.
I had to get more.
So I did.
For the last two years I had been playing basketball Friday afternoons at the community center with some friends. During the last two months, however, I’ve began playing twice a week for the extra cardio.
In addition, I’ve done a half hour of cardio four other teams each week (for a total of six days a week), and lifting on days I don’t play basketball.
I’m not the greatest basketball player, nor will I ever be, but I’ve gotten a lot better in the last two years. I’d even say I’ve made the most progression in the last three months or so.
Plus, with all the extra cardio, my endurance has gotten better, I can play longer and I don’t tire as quickly.
All the while, I had been losing weight. I was approaching it in 5-pound milestones, celebrating each day I lost weight but getting even more geeked for every 5 pounds.
Here’s a look at the last two months.
Remember, my starting weight was 282.4, so I was VERY close to reaching that fourth milestone of 20 pounds.
For the past week, I had struggled to break that mark. I even gained weight Monday and Tuesday.
Here’s a look at that last week.
Of course those two days of weight gain I was pissed. I had been eating well, I had been spending a lot of time in the gym (although Saturdays have become my off day) and still managed to go in the wrong direction.
Upsetting, yes. But not the end of the world. I fully expect to have some days that are better than others.
But I was soooo close!
Go back to that doctor’s appointment, March 8, 2015.
That number I saw on the scale?
It’s been customary for me during this New Me Journey to weigh myself after a workout. (I’ve even taken it upon myself lately to weigh myself beforehand too, just to see how much I’ve gained since my last weigh-in and subsequently how much I lose during a workout. Both values are sometimes staggering.)
Going into Wednesday’s basketball session, I didn’t think I was going to be able to hit the 20-pound mark since the first of the year, especially given how the last couple of days had gone.
But I played. I ran up and down the court. I continued to shoot around and attempt to dunk on an 8.5-foot rim. (I’ll get to that later.)
I returned home, stepped on the scale and what did I see?
I did it!
I hit the 20-pound mark.
More importantly, in a year’s time — since that doctor’s appointment March 8, 2015 — I had lost almost 40 pounds.
Upon starting the “new” New Me Journey on Jan. 1, I set myself another goal of being able to dunk on an 8.5-foot rim by the end of June. That gave me six months to shed some weight, strengthen my legs and throw one down.
When we play basketball at the community center, we play on 8.5-foot rims, and I am the only person who plays that cannot dunk.
So I wanted to change that.
A couple weeks ago I had tried extensively to dunk it, often trying a little too hard and bruising my hand on the rim. But day in and day out, I’ve gotten closer.
Wednesday, even before we played and with cold legs, Mitch (he’s been the biggest supporter in trying to get me to dunk) jokingly told me to try. He threw me a pass haphazardly, I took a couple steps and dunked it.
It wasn’t extremely clean, but it was a dunk nonetheless.
So on the day I broke the 20-pound barrier, I dunked for the first time.
Like Ice Cube: “It Was A Good Day.”
More to come
So I’ve lost close to 40 pounds in a year, but more importantly I’ve taken off 20 pounds in about 10 weeks. And, like I was after the first 10 pounds this go-round, I’m not done. I’m not satisfied. I need more.
I feel guilty on days I don’t go to the gym. When writing this Wednesday night (remember I had played basketball earlier in the day), I was getting antsy and felt like I needed to work out instead.
I don’t hate the reflection when I look in the mirror. I’m shrinking into clothes I haven’t worn in a long time but kept “just in case.” I feel like I have more energy and my strength is increasing.
My goal? I’ve alluded to it in past tweets, “#Op230”
That means I have another 30.7 pounds to go.
I know it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. It’s just going to take some work to get there.
I’ve got lots more work to do.
Until next time…