Starting Weight: 297
Weight now: 172
Total pounds lost: 125
What was the turning point that motivated your lifestyle change?
I tried numerous diets over the years with limited success. I would usually lose 20-25 pounds, hit a plateau, and then fall off the diet and regain the weight. I was a typical "yo-yo" dieter. In January, 2011, I turned 49 and had grown increasingly unhappy with my physical condition and my appearance. I knew I needed to do something because it started to impact my health. I decided that by age 50, I wanted to make significant changes. In short, I decided my gift to myself for my 50th birthday was going to be my health. Some people might go out and buy a sports car or take an exotic trip to celebrate 50. I wanted something more enduring.
At that point, I decided I needed to lose 120 pounds to put me back into the realm of a healthy weight. I decided I was going to give myself at least a year to accomplish the goal, because no one loses that much weight in a short period. I knew I needed to set realistic short term goals and to work on both diet and exercise.
How did MyFoodDiary.com help in your weight loss journey?
I started to think about what had worked in the past. In short, it was one thing - accountability. I was looking for something that required me to be accountable and helped me to balance my diet and my exercise. MyFoodDiary seemed like a good fit. I tried the trial period and decided it gave me what I was looking for. I have logged in my food consumption and exercise since then without fail. It has become an important daily habit for me, and it has been integral to my success.
Describe your new, healthy lifestyle.
I have tried to be very mindful of what I eat and how much. I enjoy food, especially sweets, so I try to keep balance in mind. I always try to think about what I am eating before I eat it. It's amazing how much people eat without thinking about it. I also try to make good choices when eating. Once you make good eating choices a habit, it's amazing how much you can accomplish. I have also made exercise a centerpiece of my lifestyle. I usually exercise every day in some form (running, cycling, spinning, swimming, etc.). I have found that exercise also allows me more leeway with my caloric intake.
I started out riding a mountain bike until I got my weight down about 80 pounds. At that point, I felt it was safe to try running again. I had run back in the late 1980's and early 1990's, but quit. Running is now a passion with me. I have completed two half marathons and am scheduled for a third in October. My first full marathon will be in November in Richmond, VA. From mountain biking, I graduated to a road bike, and cycling has become my other passion. I rode in the MS 150 on June 2-3, 2012 on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Running and cycling help me maintain and improve my conditioning.
What has been your biggest challenge, and how have you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was the same challenge I faced before. Plateaus. Since January, 2011, I hit many plateaus. My weight loss seemed to stop and nothing I did seemed to restart it. In the past, plateaus were my undoing. Almost without fail, I would be moving along with a nice weight loss only to hit a plateau. I would get frustrated, binge on something bad and give up. This time, I knew I would hit them. It's inevitable. So I decided to keep plugging and not let plateaus derail my efforts. This time, the plateaus did not beat me, I beat them.
What is one new healthy habit that you didn’t expect to like, but now love?
Running. When I had run in the past, I never really enjoyed it. It seemed like a chore. This time, I decided to learn how to run intelligently. I did some research about shoes and training, and I learned how to run in a disciplined way. Successful running requires discipline. I've learned how to do that and now I love it. It's had a wonderful impact on my weight loss and has helped me accelerate it.
What has been the greatest reward of your weight loss success?
Clothing choices. When I was tipping the scales at almost 300 pounds, I had very limited clothing choices. I was relegated to the Big & Tall section, which offered few choices. I also hated the way my clothes fit. Now, I can wear anything I want (within reason). My clothing choices have multiplied exponentially. I can buy my suits off the rack and the choices are almost limitless. My biggest problem is that I have had to have my clothes altered or replaced. The tailor is making a fortune off me. I'll take that problem any day of the week! The second greatest reward is having people tell me "you look great, how did you do it?" That never gets old.
What’s next? Any upcoming plans that were influenced by your weight loss?
My next goal is to complete a full marathon in November. I am registered for the Richmond Marathon and, absent injury, have no doubt I will complete it. I also plan to register for and complete a triathlon sprint.
What is your best advice for others?
Set reasonable goals, allow yourself the time you need, and stick to it. If you think "I have to lose 120 pounds," you will never do it. Instead, you have to think, "This week I want to lose 3 pounds, or 5 pounds." Pretty soon the 5 becomes 10, then 20, then 40 and so on. You learn to build on your success. You build up an inertia that lets you reach your goal.
You need to find some form of exercise that you like and make it a part of your routine. I think weight loss is a balance between diet and exercise. You need to find that balance. For me, I found a balance between my diet and running and cycling. Once I balanced the equation, the weight came off.
It sounds funny, but splurge on occasion. Every once in a while, I eat something I'm really craving like chocolate ice cream or apple pie. The calories may exceed my goal for that day, but the mental health aspect is important. Like a pressure valve. You just have to remember that you can't do that every day. There are some folks that say you shouldn't reward yourself with food. I think the occasional reward is healthy.