Starting Weight: 276lbs (6'0) Current Weight: 234lbs Goal Weight: 215lbs / then implementing intense exercise until 195lbs as a fitness goal
Mental: Food became my go-to around the time my mother died, it gave me feelings of comfort and accomplishment. I vowed to never end up like my dad; a fitness freak and diet maniac who was absent from my life. These strong feelings of resentment (dad) mixed with grief (mom) led me to turn to food for emotional fulfillment. My weight loss journey began when I was sitting in a Psychiatrist's office, fully expecting to go on some kind of medication to treat my depression. I was hesitant so the shrink said to first try cutting out all alcohol and implement exercise 5 days a week. For the first month I didn't lose any weight, but the changes to my mental health by cutting out all alcohol and walking for 30 minutes per day were enough to propel me to see a nutritionist and address my obesity (more on that later). There's a reason Alcohol is called a "depressant" I couldn't tell you why scientifically but I can testify to it personally. As I cut back from weekly to monthly, in those 3 instances (1 per month) that I had a had consumed any alcohol at all (whether 1 beer or 5 mixed drinks) the ability to make health-conscious dietary and exercise decisions decreased dramatically. I've been three months without a drink and these past 3 months I've experienced the most weight loss, despite any typically suspected notions of plateauing or weight loss getting more difficult the more you lose. Ultimately, I don't see my weight loss journey as an issue of diet, nor exercise, but mental health.
Exercise: I've heard people say exercise is only 10%-20% of the weight loss strategy, I've also heard people say that people who implement exercise are far more successful in weight loss. I don't know; but I absolutely know that in my case my modest exercise of mere 30 minute walks had enough mental health benefits to enable to me more mindful about my food choices. One big problem for me was that when I exercised intensely I found it really difficult to make wise, conscious and mindful dietary decisions, when a trip to Chick-Fil-A would normally be a grilled chicken sandwich, a side salad and a diet coke after intense exercise it became 2 fried chicken sandwiches, french fries and a coffee milk shake. I had to find exercise that was right for me and my situation, some people would slam intense cardio down my face, some people will tell me that I need to lift weights to be most effective, or people have told me to take up a physical hobby but what works for someone doesn't work for everyone. Find something that works for you. Most of the time for me it's walks, sometimes it's hikes, sometimes I'll walk around my neighborhood, sometimes I'll have 30 minutes to spare on my lunch break and I'll walk in the neighborhood the restaurant I just ate out at. If I'm hanging out with a friend I'll suggest we walk and talk. It's also particularly important for me to walk or at least move around after meals, as it has benefits for metabolism which discourages my body from putting all the calories I consumed into storage, and instead uses them for energy. I don't attribute my weight loss to exercise, I instead attribute my ability to make sound dietary choices to my exercise.
Diet: The single biggest dietary factor that I attribute to my weight loss is the 25-25-50 method which I picked up from my visit to the nutritionist. I have to eat as equal amounts vegetables as I do grains/starches and proteins combined. Additionally I have to eat equal amounts of starches/grains as I do proteins. For the most part, other than that I eat whatever the fuck I want to eat. I eat fried chicken, I eat pho, I eat pasta, I eat McDonalds, I eat Chick Fil-A. This, I like to think of as my secret. On the way to a guilty pleasure restaurant like Pop-Eye's I will load a bag or plate up with raw carrots or tomatoes or spinach, steamed broccoli or steamed cauliflower and I will eat it on the way to the restaurant. The great part about vegetables (as well as complex carbohydrates) is that they keep me fuller for longer. Vegetables and complex carbohydrates take longer to digest, move through our systems slower and thus prevent me from getting hungry 2-3 hours after eating. The other nice thing about eating all my veggies first is that I eat less of the bad stuff. I also implemented a 16-8 intermittent fasting 3/7 days a week, which is all I have the will power to do for now. I also take a fancy probiotic (one of the refrigerated ones that are $50-60/bottle at whole foods) which I find drastically cuts back on my cravings for sugar and simple carbohydrates (pasta, pizza dough, white bread). I went a week without my probiotics and it was a rough week for me where I found myself eating lots of white breads. 25-25-50 worked for me because it allowed me to continue to make my otherwise bad decisions like eating out and eating before bed but now I'm at least eating healthy meals (and staying full between meals) while doing so.
Future: The hardest part is in front of me as I can yo-yo at any time. I know exactly who I am inside, and what I'm capable of becoming and eating. If anyone wants to join me in accountability or if anyone wants to talk about depression feel free to DM me. The grimmer part of the yo-yo for me isn't that I could lose my progress of weight loss but that I know the danger of failing and feelings of letting myself down, and how that can lead to me giving up on other parts of my life again. I'm going to see an eating disorder mental health specialist tomorrow so that I can allow this to become a path of maintenance as well as change.
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