Subject: Weight Loss & Mental Well-being
Original Goal(s): Spend the entire month of April living a healthy lifestyle.
Today’s Goal(s): Lose 20 pounds, in addition to the 50 that I’ve already lost; to reach my goal weight of 200lbs.
Advice: Embrace who you are! It took me a year into college to remember that I need to embrace who I am, a quirky and random human being, and I couldn’t be happier with that. Sure some people think you suck, but comparatively you will bump into and find some incredibly awesome like-minded people along the way. Trust me.
Story: It all started at Barnes and Noble back in March 2015. Will was talking with his best friend about the number of energy drinks and coffee he drank per day—roughly 4+ cups a day (about 8-10 servings). Lent was coming up and his best friend suggested a challenge that he had no idea would develop into a what, now, is his journey to self-betterment—Will’s friend suggested that he give up energy drinks for lent. For the month of April, he decided to put his unhealthy habits to the test. Will was just crazy enough to give up energy drinks, coffee, junk food, and fast food. After the first week of success, Will decided that cutting all those unhealthy choices out of his life wasn’t quite enough and even added the challenge of going to the gym on a regular basis. Will recounts that going to the gym “was rough and it really sucked.” After successfully completing an entire month of practicing a healthier lifestyle, Will felt great, so he kept at it. For the first few months he hit the gym with his friends, but as his friends lost momentum one by one, he was still working hard-- going on sporadic adventures to the gym and continuing those healthy eating happens.
Over time, Will revamped many of his unhealthy habits. He no longer ordered take out--a huge success as he had ordered from the local pizza place so many times that he could walk in and the staff would simply hand his order over without saying a word. He stopped going to Rite Aid to buy junk food--another huge hurdle overcome as his previous diet consisted of different combinations of junk food such as candy, chips or cookies. Now, Will eats more fruits, vegetables and high-protein foods such as chicken instead and has even limited his alcohol intake on the weekends and replaced those extra sugary drinks with, you guessed it, water. When asked more about the changes he has noticed, Will says, “Beforehand I could cook enough food for a family four and eat it all myself, but now I sometimes struggle to get through a plate of food and, very rarely these days, do I go for seconds.”
As of November, Will lost a whopping total of 50lbs (now weighing in at 227lb) and celebrated in the most humorous of ways by googling what fifty pounds of fat actually looks like. He recounts humorously that “it is a huge mountain of yellow mess”, but continues on a more serious and prideful note when he says, “The benefits from all of this [hardwork] is the fact that I have dropped two to three shirt sizes, I get out of breath way less, and, now, I have some mild confidence.” Today, Will is still going strong, but he does say that “being able to look at my reflection and think ‘I finally look good’ is the best feeling after spending so long over weight and that feeling continues to amplify with the more weight I lose.”
C: People tend to feel more motivated when they accomplish smaller goals leading up to accomplishing their larger goals. Do you think the idea that only temporarily giving up energy drinks and coffee helped you succeed?
W: Yeah, the idea of being able to give up energy drinks and coffee cold turkey was definitely a step that helped me succeed in this weird half year adventure. Mentally this step was basically summed up in my head like this, “If I can give up these things and endure for the entire month then I can definitely succeed at living a healthier lifestyle.”
C: Do you have any advice on how to get through a week of caffeine withdrawal without giving back into the “addition”?
W: Going cold turkey from caffeine was basically a week long hangover where you sweat constantly and have the worst headache of your life. My advice would be to try to pretend to be happy during the withdrawal period—this span of time, for me, was the grumpiest of my life. The more you act happy, the more you end up feeling happy. I’m really glad I cut caffeine out of my diet as my heart rate has been able to return to a normal level and I can just feel how much happier my body is on a daily basis.
C: What does your typical workout look like at the gym? What did your first workout look like versus your workouts today?
W: My typical workout has me running to the college gym, which is a mile away. Once I arrive, I go to the weight room and do a rotation of the machines --every time I go there I do them in the same order. I start with chest, shoulders, arms, abs and then leg machines. Then I end my workout standing on the scale. My first workout was a mess. I was extremely out of breath; I sounded like I got sucked into the vacuum of space where I was trying to suck up any and all oxygen in existence. The rest of my first workout was filled with confusion. I remember thinking, “What is that strange thing?…and why can I pull or push it?” Now I can breath and work out with a general sense of what I’m doing. I also workout alone now, but I had started working out with three friends.
C: Becoming healthier usually requires a complete lifestyle change, how did becoming healthier change your life? How did it affect your life on a daily basis?
W: I am going to break my success into three sections which are appearance, mental well-being and physical well-being.
Since I began my new lifestyle, there has been a shift in my appearance. Before I was wearing plain old t-shirts and a pair of jeans, but now I generally like to dress better--my newest favorite item is the button down shirt. Being able to dress mildly fancy in my daily life makes me feel like I look good. I’d like to think people notice my new appearance--this is a great segway into how my lifestyle change effected my mental well-being.
I can now look at myself and think “I look great!” I stopped making self-deprecating jokes because with the more weight I lost the less relevant these jokes became. Now, I have some mild self confidence--which is nice.
Lastly, my physical well-being. I feel like perhaps the largest impact these changes have had on my life can be summed up in one word, “transportation.” What I mean by this is that at the age of twenty-three, I finally learned to ride a bike, simply because it would help me lose weight. One of the biggest successes I’ve had to date is that I ride my bike to and from work part of the time and I walk more places; if I know I can either bike or walk to a destination, I will.
C: Most people who try to improve their lives for the better fail a few times or make a few mistakes along the way. Can you talk about a time that you made a “mistake” during your journey to self-improvement? Did you find a way to turn this failure/mistake into a success?
W: I have slipped back into drinking some caffeine and eating some junk food every now and then. I don’t feel guilty, but it does serve as a motivating factor for my next visit to the gym. I also went three weeks without going to the gym and, quite honestly, I am still working on turning that into a full fledge success story. I try to go to the gym at least three times a week. As of now, I am currently going to the gym two to three time a week at the moment; as my college classes ramp up for finals, the amount of time I spend at the gym has been reduced.
C: Can you elaborate on your comment about mild self-confidence?
W: Mild self-confidence is a new thing for me. I now see myself as looking awesome and being a great person. I also see some women glance at me every now and then, which is weird, yet oddly exciting. About a month or so ago, I came across a thought that went something along the lines of “I feel like this women is looking at me, weird. Wait a minute, no it’s not, I’m fucking awesome. Why wouldn’t a woman be looking at me?” It’s mainly just me coming to the realization that I’m a pretty great person. The part I need to work on now is being confident enough to go up to someone and say, “Hey! I like you. We should go get coffee or a drink sometime.”