I had been heavy for most of my life. All through middle, high school, and college, I just ate whatever I wanted and rarely, if ever, exercised. When I was at my heaviest weight (275 pounds), I felt sluggish and lazy at points. Part of me always justified it, because I was happy and upbeat. I knew I was overweight, but it never bothered me much. I was the guy who blamed it on genetics. In a way, I accepted being overweight.
My turning point came at work in the fall of 2016. In my position, I’m responsible for all the video needs for Virginia Tech football. We were playing the University of Arkansas at Bank of America Stadium, in Charlotte, NC. The video booth was at the top of the stands on the home side of the stadium. When I got to the top, it took me at least 5 minutes to catch my breath. I knew something had to change.
At the time, my kids were seven and eight years old, and I thought I needed to be better for them and my wife. Given my job, I’m away from them enough already. I couldn’t imagine not being there for the three people that mean the most to me.
Nutrition and exercise have made the biggest difference. I cut out sugary drinks; I only drink water and black coffee now. I added way more fruits and vegetables to my diet, and stopped eating sweets, cookies and cakes. I also switched to mainly white meats, mostly chicken and turkey.
A friend at work encouraged me to start walking on the treadmill. Soon after, another work friend pushed me to go on a jog with him. At first, I was hesitant, but after that first run I was hooked. I have the benefit of working in athletics, so I’m surrounded by people who are willing to help. Our strength and conditioning coach helped me get started in the weight room and still takes the time to give me a weight training schedule.
A normal day’s workout is a 5 or 6-mile run and 20 to 30 minutes of weight training afterwards. Before quarantine, a typical day started with a 40-minute elliptical workout at home, a 4-mile run at lunch, followed by a 20 to 30-minute lift. While in quarantine I trained for a marathon, so I’d run in the morning, then go for a 4-mile walk with my wife in the afternoon. Since I didn’t have weights at the house, I used the workouts on Fitbit Coach after walks with my wife. I also use my Fitbit to track my steps and mileage.
Now that quarantine has ended in my area, I do a 5 to 6-mile run and weights now. The process was difficult at first, but when it started to become routine it got easier. Now, I don’t even call it a diet. It’s just my lifestyle now.
I’m able to stay motivated because of all the support I’ve had. I’m lucky to work in an industry where you have the time and equipment to workout. But my biggest motivation is my wife and kids. Without their support, I’m not sure I would have been able to accomplish what I have. My wife has supported me from day one. I know I make her crazy with how running has taken over parts of my life, but she remains supportive. On August 1, 2020, I ran a marathon just to see if I could do it. Leading up to my run, she made sure I had enough water and was ready to go.
When I finished, her and my kids had made signs for me, standing in front of the house cheering me on. They also made me a medal, like the medal that Vanelope makes Ralph in the move, Wreck It Ralph. Our house is a huge Disney family, which is what got me to start marathon training during quarantine; I would love to participate in the RunDisney marathon.
I started walking the first week of February 2017, and weighed 275 pounds. By December 2017, I weighed 160 pounds. The lowest I’ve been is 149 pounds, but currently I’m maintaining my weight at 160. I do feel more confident. I like the way that I look and feel. Hopefully what I did can encourage other people to do the same.
If you’re at the beginning of your own weight loss journey, don’t get discouraged early. When I started, I had no idea where it would end up. I just wanted to lose some weight. I never imagined that I would be 160 pounds and enjoy running as much as I do. It’s a process, a lifestyle change. A “diet” lasts a short time; a total lifestyle change can last forever.
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