4 Things I've Learned from Losing 120 Pounds Twice
You've read that title right, I've lost 120 pounds twice... So far.
I'm going to go over my story briefly, but the 4 things I've learned will be posted under my journey.
I'm one of those people who is either completely obsessed or completely unaware of something.
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Have you ever gotten "on a kick" to start eating healthy foods? Did you make it about a week before you called it quits?
I used to be like that.
In fact, I was so oblivious about fitness that I've gotten myself into some unhealthy situations... twice. So I've always been a big kid. Sugar everything. Pack of Mountain Dew? Yes, please.
I got fat, I didn't have any interest in sports, but I did enjoy riding my BMX bike and my dirtbikes. All of this exercise, but still fat.
Fast forward to 2009. I weighed 375 pounds, I hurt every step I took, and I missed work often due to my weight. I was miserable, I had let myself go too far, and I didn't know what to do.
I was the funny guy at work, so I had a lot of people that talked to me. A group of guys one day put a money bet that I wouldn't come with them to the gym... I'm not going to pass up free money.
I got addicted to lifting, I knew cardio was needed, and I put in the work. I watched what I ate, but I never counted calories. One year later and I cardio-ed my weight to 255. Oh, and I had an ankle surgery during this time.
So I won the bet, I lost 120 pounds and I felt a lot better. I was still fat, but it's a completely different feeling. I met an old-timer powerlifter who told me I had some potential, so I got the bug to lift. My cardio started trailing off once I started lifting heavier. A few years later and I'm 300 at 28% body fat, I was pretty strong, and it was a great time.
Big life changes came, the old habits that I managed to out-exercise came back in full force. So after a few years of sporadic lifting, and three different large life events broke me. I was at an all-time low, and my depression told me to just eat myself to death. So I tried. I would eat two to three large pizzas a day, along with other food. Taco Bell midnight runs, you know.
I started to turn my thoughts into positive ones and fight depression, and it occurred to me all of the pain, warning signs, and problems I had due to such a massive and quick weight gain. My hands always tingled, I had blurred vision, I couldn't breathe when I slept, and I would wake up every day with an "I made it" feeling.
I got on the scale and it said 400. I was okay with 300s, but 400. I'm glad I bought that heavy duty scale.
As of 12/2/2018, I'm down to 279 pounds and 27% body fat. While I'm not at the lowest weight I want, my goal weight is to see 199. I carry a lot of muscle — I haven't really lifted even regularly in years.
Attaining my goal of 199 will let me see a number I never thought possible, get me lean as possible before I bulk, and because "losing 200 pounds" is something I'd like on my resume in life.
My best lifts were a 550lb squat, a 301lb bench, and a 605lb deadlift.
Please don't take my story as me bragging — to me it is embarrassing, but if I can hit home to just one person by telling it... I will.
4 Things I've Learned from Losing 120 Pounds Twice
So what has helped me lose this weight? I'll tell you there isn't a magic pill — I've tried about all of them.
#1 - Choose Resistance Training Over Cardio for Weight Loss
When choosing what to do for exercise, there are a few things you need to remember.
There is cardiovascular exercise which we need for a healthy heart, among a host of other benefits. We need resistance training to get stronger, build muscle, and elicit a hormonal response to grow. Both cardio and lifting burns calories, but you should lean towards resistance training versus "cardio-ing" it out.
There are a few reasons:
When you perform resistance training, you burn calories, force your body to grow, and you have what's called an excess post-exercise oxygen consumption. This is basically your body burning calories after you exercise.
Our bodies need muscle to perform everyday tasks. Not only that, but having adequate lean mass means your metabolism will burn more calories and you will look aesthetically more pleasing. There's a reason people who lose a lot of weight through cardio still look fat.
Exercise is Exercise
I don't care what you do, if you can do 30 minutes of it per day, you're going to get closer to your goals.
Whether it's dancing and walking around the house while you do chores, walking around the neighborhood, shooting some hoops with the boys, or doing bodyweight exercises — movement is movement.
No more excuses.
#2 - Cooking is a Skill You Must Learn
Unless you have control of what goes in your mouth, it's going to be hard to lose weight. Guessing can get you started, but it eventually makes you stall.
I honestly can't think of one reason why you shouldn't cook — it's a life skill, it isn't "funny" that you can't figure out how to cook.
If you've never gone one week eating fresh foods, you should — not because you're going to lose 20 pounds, but I want you to feel the difference in your body. Your stomach won't hurt, you won't feel bloated, and you'll feel more "crisp."
After a week of eating fresh foods, go all-out and have yourself a "regular day."
at those foods you normally eat and enjoy the stomach ache and lethargy.
The change in how you feel will be evidence enough why you need to eat healthier foods. I honestly don't crave anything that I used to eat.
You're going to need a few things in your kitchen to make it easier to cook.
- Good Set of Knives - find some high-quality knives — they are an investment.
- Tupperware or Meal Prep Containers - great for meal prep and portioning out food.
- Food Scale - weigh protein, carbs, and other fresh ingredients.
- Good Set of Pots and Pans - don't get the cheapest, the higher quality will last longer with the amount you're about to use them.
- Spice Rack - trust me.
Find a decent set of knives, have a sharpener, and keep those puppies sharp. They will last forever if you take care of them, so buying a high-quality set is highly advised. Throw some more skin in the game and get a good set of pots and pans so you can cook your food properly.
Ideally, I like to buy fresh protein when possible. My last grocery list had fresh Atlantic salmon, frozen tilapia, frozen ground beef patties, and fresh boneless skinless chicken breast. Browse your local groceries for a clearance section — they have short-sale meat at 50% off or more. The meat is fine, just cook it or freeze it immediately.
My fat sources come from dairy and other oils. I prefer olive oil, cheese, sour cream, and milk. Buy fatty cuts of meat, eat the bacon, enjoy the flavor — you simply need to measure and account for your calories.
I've tried multiple sources of carbs both fresh and processed, and I generally stick to brown rice, penne pasta, and oatmeal. I eat any of these and I feel great... if I ate just one piece of pizza, it would make me feel horrible.
There are a lot of carbohydrate sources, you should try to get the majority of your carbs through vegetables and more natural sources. You can still have bread and white rice and other things, just avoid the heavily-processed foods and added sugars.
Here's an article I wrote that gives you 10 kitchen tips for weight loss success.
#3 - It's Going to Suck
There will be a point where you fight with yourself about making the right choice. You really want whatever it is you are craving... but it's just a craving. When you actively change a bad habit, there is a lot of resistance. You'll want it more, you'll think about it non-stop, and it sucks.
Getting anxiety driving past your favorite fast food restaurant, walking into a break room and seeing pizza for everyone to eat, all of it sucks. But if you stick through the suck enough, your new choices will become the norm. You'll turn your nose up to the thought of wrecking your stomach with Taco Bell, and you won't feel so bad about not eating that donut.
But it takes a bit of time and patience.
As I've lost 120 pounds, I am content and enjoy cooking at home. I get to make meals that make my friends and family jealous, and I losing weight while doing it.
If I can do it twice, ANYBODY can do it once. It's pretty black and white the more I think about it.
You Will Have Withdrawals
Most of us have something we eat that we know is bad. It may sugary like soda or energy drinks. It could be cake and ice cream, potato chips, or bread. Studies have proven sugar is addictive, and there's going to be a period of adjustment.
Depending on how bad your diet choices have been, you may have a harder time than others. Breaking the addiction to sugar has been one of the best decisions I've done.
In fact, sugar and processed foods were what made me gain almost 150 pounds.
I still have sweets sometimes, I'll use sugar in my oatmeal and protein sludge, and I'll calculate in a chocolate chip cookie into my calorie count.
The two things that have changed are the cravings and my taste buds. Sugary drinks (that I used to love) taste horrible to me, it's hard to eat something super sweet, and fruit tastes sweeter and more fulfilling than any Snickers bar ever did.
So stick through this time of change — your body will feel like it needs it. You know it doesn't, so don't give in. Those feelings go away.
#4 - You Need to Make the Decision
Next month isn't going to change anything for you. Waiting until Monday is a cop-out.
Until you make that conscious decision to make a goal and stick to doing things that get you to that goal, you're not going to get it. I don't care how hard you wish for something, if you kill a bag of chips and eat some cookies, it just won't happen.
But that's the thing, you can still have your chips, cookies, and sweets. You just have to implement the tips above. I do it and it's the best decision I've made.
The decision is simple — are you going to suffer the discipline to reach your fitness goals, or suffer the pain and regret of not?
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