Meet Charles Scott
A MyFoodDiary.com Success Story:
When Charles Scott first joined MyFoodDiary.com
in May of 2004, he tipped the scales at 562 pounds. Over the next 24 months, he shed 300 pounds and lost 30 inches in his waist. In the following interview, we find out how he did it, what motivates him, and how his dramatic weight loss has affected his life.
How would you describe your health condition before you started your weight loss journey?
I had a number of medical conditions that all seemed to be getting worse as the years went on. I had been 350 or more pounds over my ideal weight for the vast majority of the last 25 years. I must have been blessed with good genetics because it took awhile for that abuse of my body to start breaking it down. But, good genetics or not, when my body started to break down, it took off with a vengeance. After I turned 40, I developed high-blood pressure. The stress of the extra weight caused me to develop Central Serous Retinopathy (CSR), which caused me to lose some of the vision in my left eye. I was a borderline diabetic and was headed for full-blown diabetes. I started having really bad lower back pain whenever I had to walk for more that a few minutes. I developed arthritis in my right knee. I had to have cortisone injected into the joint just to be able to walk on it. Lastly, I developed severe lower leg edema. My family doctor told me that if I did not get the weight off, I was going to die in the near future. Things had gotten so bad that I literally could not reach my feet to tie my own shoes. My doctor suggested that if I could not start losing this weight immediately that I should consider getting gastric bypass surgery. I thought about it. I decided that I wanted to get healthy using diet and exercise if I could. My doctor was right; I was killing myself – not just one, but two fast food hamburgers at a time.
What motivated you to make a change? What keeps you motivated?
My 7-year-old daughter, Katy, is what motivated me to change. I had always thought I would work on losing weight so that the other kids would not make fun of Katy because her dad was fat. I had the best intentions to do that. I tried several times.
In May of 2004, Katy was about to be in the 1st grade in a few months. Dad was topping out at 562.3 pounds. I never knew how much you could love someone until my daughter was born. Katy's mom is in very poor health. My parents are in their early 80's. At almost 600 pounds, I could not get any life insurance. My own health was going down fast. It hit me like a bolt of lighting that I was about to fail in the most important thing I would ever be tasked to do in this world: take care of my daughter. If I did not do something, I was going to eat myself into an early grave and leave my baby girl when she would need me the most. At that moment in time, it became unacceptable to me to continue to be morbidly obese.
Losing this much weight is a lifestyle change and a journey. You tend to discover many things along the path to your goals. Katy is, and will always be, a huge motivation for me. Initially, I was motivated to get healthy just to be alive to help her grow up. As I lost weight and could become more physically active, an entire vista of possibilities opened up. I could not only be alive – but as a healthy, active dad, Katy and I could go to amusement parks, play soccer, bike together, hike, run and play – a million and one things. I could give her not only a secure childhood, but one filled with fun memories.
I realized that I still had a few items on my life's "to do" list as well. I feel motivated to be a better, more complete person. I just signed up for beginning acting classes. It was something I always wanted to try but, you know, when you are morbidly obese, you tend to suppress most of the dreams you have.
Lastly, I am motivated by a burning desire to help others escape the clutches of morbid obesity. I don't live in the past and I know I can't go back and change the fact that I let a large part of my life go by while being morbidly obese. What I can do is dedicate myself to doing all that I can to help fight obesity in children and young adults. I can't change my own past, but maybe I can help some people have a present and future free from the heartbreak of morbid obesity.
Do you mind if we ask how much you have lost?
Ah - Numbers. I have become a weight loss number cruncher! I have lost 300 pounds in 733 days. I have also lost 30 inches in my waist. At the start of my weight loss journey, my waist size was 72 inches. I now wear 42 inch pants. My 26-week average weight loss is 1.1 pounds per week. I have averaged losing 3.3 pounds per week since the start of my quest for fitness. My weight when I started was 562.3. I weigh 263 pounds as of yesterday. I am officially less than half the man I used to be. I have an intermediate goal of reaching 250 pounds. When I hit that goal, I will have lost 312.3 pounds. My final goal is to weigh 220 pounds. That will put me at 342.3 pounds lost.
Unfortunately, having been so overweight for so long, I have a lot of extra skin around my abdomen. In talking to my doctor, I will most likely need to have abdominoplasty surgery (A.K.A. tummy tuck) done to remove this skin. Most people that were 200 or more pounds overweight for extended periods of time have this done. The surgery will remove between 15 to 30 pounds of skin. The good news is I am only 50 pounds from my goal weight!
How have you done it? What's your secret?
I think the key for me was to finally come face to face with the realization that this was something that I not only had to do, but something that I wanted to do. Once I had that realization, I was determined to do everything that I could to give myself the best chance for success. I wanted to learn from others that had been down the same path – what worked for them. I was committed to seek out whatever help I needed to make my journey a successful one. I joined my hospital's wellness program. It included nutrition education, behavior modification and group meetings.
While I could now write a book on nutrition and exercise, I think it is the mental process of behavior change that is the "secret" to long term weight loss. Small changes over time that you incorporate into your daily life add up to life altering changes. I love this quote: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." - Confucius. I encourage everyone to take that first step, then the next, and the next until you reach your goal.
The mechanics of how I lost 281.1 pounds consists of a few key components:
How is your health after losing the weight?
- Food Records: I use MyFoodDiary.com as my method of choice for recording my food intake, body measurements and exercise logging. This has been a huge part of controlling my portions and making sure that I was eating healthy and in the appropriate amounts. The very act of logging your food helps to focus you on your plan and keep you moving toward your goal.
- Support Systems: I have several. I go to a weekly meeting with people who are working to lose weight. Having the accountability of attending the meetings really helps keep me on track. I cannot emphasize how much help it is to know that you are going through this with others who can understand the trials and triumphs that happen on the journey to good health and fitness. I also participate in two online weight loss forums. In addition to getting ideas and support, it is important to try to help others.
- Exercise: All of the evidence shows that the people most likely to lose weight – and keep it off over the long haul – exercise. I hated the thought of having to exercise. I mean, I was the ultimate couch potato. But once I made the decision to get healthy, I wanted to give myself every possible chance to succeed. The most important thing I learned about exercise is that if you do it consistently and take the time to learn about effective exercise techniques, you will be amazed at how much progress you can make. When I started out, I was so out of shape, all I could do was walk in the pool for 20 minutes. Then I discovered something great. If you can walk in the pool for 20 minutes, then you can do it for 21. You can build up each day as you become stronger. I worked up to an hour in the pool then I thought I bet I can jog in the pool. I just built up from there. Currently, I work out 5 days a week for 2 hours a day before work.
- Nutrition: I bet I tried all of the crazy diets out there. No carbohydrates, no fat, no bread, the grapefruit diet. What I have found is that for me, having a varied, balanced diet built on the fundamentals of good nutritionseems to work. I try to make sure I get less than 30% of my calories from fat. I keep my saturated fats under 9%. Because I do a good bit of weight lifting, I do try to run higher than the 15% recommended for protein. Typically, I hit about 25 to 30% protein from a variety of healthy sources. MyFoodDiary.com has helped me know whether I am following these fundamentals.
- Body Image: Take pictures of yourself at regular intervals. I picked every 25 pounds. For a lot of people, it is hard to see the weight loss in the mirror. To this day, I look in the mirror and I find it hard to see the weight loss – and I have lost over one eighth of a ton! I have a picture book with 3 shots - front, side and back. I can flip through the book and see myself as I lost weight. That really helps with body image problems.
The very bottom line on all of the above items is to find what works for you! Find what you will do consistently. Don't be afraid to experiment. I found that I have a much greater feeling of satiety when I have a higher percentage of protein than 15%. I have met other people that do better on more carbohydrates. Find what works for you. Find the exercise program that you will do. Being consistent is the key.
I am off of all of my medications. My blood pressure runs 110 / 70. My resting pulse rate is in the high 50's. The lower leg edema is gone, blood sugar levels are normal and I feel great. My health has done a complete 180-degree turn. I have no pain in my back and I have not had any for over a year. My knees feel great. I think they are happy they have 260 pounds less to carry around. I can ride my bike for 25 miles and not feel like I am going to die. Heck, I could not even get on a bike when I was almost 600 pounds.
Has your weight loss improved other areas of your life?
I think it has made me a better dad for my daughter. I think I am setting a good example for her. I know that we can do many things together now that were just out of the question before. I also think that it has helped me in my career. I have more energy, and I know that makes me a better and more productive employee. Lastly, it has helped me with my own self-image. I think it will take some time, but I know I feel better about myself than I did at almost 600 pounds. That negative self-image is hard to let go of. It is something that I work on all the time. I think a lot of people who were extremely overweight fight that particular battle.
Did you ever think you'd be where you are today?
Well to be honest, no. I had tried to lose weight before, but I never really changed my lifestyle. I had resigned myself that I was going to be out of shape and overweight for the rest of my life. May of 2004 was really a wake up call for me. I knew that I had to change and that I was willing to do what I needed to do to make it happen.
What are your future goals?
I have a lot of them now. First and foremost, I want to be the best dad for Katy that I can be. This experience has really changed my outlook on life. I would like to help others escape from morbid obesity. I am not sure what the best way to do that is. I am the IT manager at a genetics testing company. I don't know if I should just continue to help people on the message boards, try to write a book (donating some of the proceeds to fight obesity), or if I should try to change careers to help people full time. I know that I am very passionate about helping people – especially young people – get fit and healthy. I also have two physical goals that I want to achieve. I want to participate in a bike race called the MS 150. I don't care if I am the last biker across the line – I want to ride in that charity event. The second physical goal I have is to hike up Long's Peak in Colorado. Now, I want to be clear that it is one of those hike up the mountain kind of things – not the ropes climbing gear like you see in the movies. I am not quite that ambitious. A friend of mine made the hike last year and I really want to hike to the top myself. I think getting to the top of Long's Peak will be a perfect parallel to the challenge of losing over 300 pounds.
Do you have any advice for others who would like to lose weight?
Know that you can do it. It is not a question of willpower. I have none of that. It is a question of willingness. What are you willing to do to reach your goals? No matter what your situation, no matter what your history – you can be successful and improve your health and physical fitness. You can never be defeated until you quit. Every meal, every day is a chance to eat healthy. Every day is yours to make the choice to exercise and be physically active. I hope that my story can help inspire others.
You know who inspires me? It is the 70 plus year olds I see at the gym day in and day out making sure they have the best quality of life they can have. It is my Mom and Dad who are in their early 80's and late 70's (respectively) and who exercise consistently to stay healthy and active. It is the guy at my gym who lost both of his legs. He works out at the gym on his prosthetic legs. Did you hear what I said? He works out on prosthetic legs! He can out-do me on the elliptical trainer! How easy would it have been for him to say, "Look what happened to me. I give up."? Every day that I see him at the gym screams defiance to any limitations we might put on ourselves. You can do it, I know you can. If I can help you in any way, you can find me on the discussion forum at MyFoodDiary.com.
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