For almost my entire life, I struggled with being overweight. I developed poor eating habits at an early age, and for a long time my idea of exercise was walking from the couch to the fridge and back. I continued to gain weight until high school when I was well over 300 pounds. During my junior year, I started a strict diet (along with daily exercise) which was successful for a while, but I was in no way prepared to stick with it when I got to college.
By the time I got to law school, I weighed 430 pounds and my weight began to have a substantial impact on my personality. I became withdrawn, dreading any social event that would force me to interact with new people. I was embarrassed by my appearance, but was too lazy to do anything to change it. Outside of going to class, I avoided leaving the house, spending more time with Netflix and Dominos than any sane person ever should. In only two years I devolved from someone outgoing and fun-loving to someone angry, bitter, and ashamed to show his face in public.
My decision to change the way I was living came from nothing more than a simple conversation with my roommate about how unhealthy our eating habits had become. We decided we would try to be a little healthier and, in just two and a half years, I went from 430 pounds to my current weight of 200 pounds, dropping from 5 XL shirts and size 56 pants to a large and size 33. That’s not to say it was easy – it was, and is, the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and would never have been possible without the support of my two best friends, Andrew and Nick. While neither needed to make the same drastic changes, they decided to join me on my Quest (see what I did there?) to living a better life.
There is no secret to weight loss – it simply takes hard work, dedication, and the will-power to not give up when times get tough. That said, here five tips that I wish I had known when I first started my journey.
#1. It’s not a diet; it’s a lifestyle change.
While eating nothing but chicken and salads will definitely lead to losing weight, it will probably also lead to losing your mind. The more monotonous your routine becomes, the more likely it is that you’ll eventually abandon it. I began to see the most results when I started tracking macros and using the “My Fitness Pal” app. Take a few minutes to research healthy recipes online and you’ll be amazed at the endless variety of delicious options that aren’t terrible for you, and are relatively easy to make. Starting this lifestyle change has led me to realize that I’m passionate about cooking, and I’m constantly trying to come up with new, healthy meals to make so that I don’t get stuck eating the same thing over and over again.
#2. There’s no time like the present.
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve said, “I’m going to start eating healthy next week,” I would be writing this post from my private island. Don’t wait for some life-altering moment or sign from above that it’s time to start making a change, because for most of us that moment never comes. If you can look honestly at yourself and say, “I need to lose weight,” then don’t wait until next week or next month. Start now. You won’t regret it.
#3. Don’t be afraid of the gym.
For someone who is overweight, going to the gym is one of the most terrifying experiences in the world. When I first started this process, I refused to go because I was too embarrassed with the way I looked and assumed I would be laughed out of the building. I’ll never forget the first time that my friends convinced me to go with them: after 8 minutes on the elliptical I was sweating like Shaq at the free throw line and legitimately thought I was going into cardiac arrest. The thing to remember is that everyone starts somewhere. I went back the next day with the goal of getting to 10 minutes, then 12 minutes, then 15 minutes. While the gym is understandably daunting at first, it’s crucial to losing weight and keeping it off, and it only gets easier the more you go.
#4. Enjoy the little things.
Losing weight truly is a marathon, not a sprint; and it’s nearly impossible to do if you start off with lofty goals for yourself. If I had begun by thinking that I was going to lose 230 pounds, I probably would have given up a long time ago. For me, the two happiest moments of my life were the first time I was able to buy clothes that fit me off the rack in a store that didn’t have “big and tall” in the name, and being able to fit on the rides when I went to Universal Studios with my friends. Being able to say that I lost a large number of pounds is great, but those are the moments that I’ll truly never forget. Set small goals for yourself, because the satisfaction you get from accomplishing them is addicting and will keep you on track for the long haul.
#5. Live your life!
This has been the hardest lesson for me to learn, and it’s one that I still struggle with to this day. Life happens: there will be birthday parties, vacations, sick days. Cheat every once in a while, and don’t beat yourself up when you do. For a long time I avoided going out with my friends, or going to a dinner that I wasn’t cooking for myself, because I was scared to put myself in a situation where I might have a few drinks or eat an unhealthy meal. It took me a long time to appreciate that, just like you can’t lose it all it one day, you can’t gain it all back in one meal. There’s no point in working hard if you’re never going to enjoy the fruits of your labor, as long as you remain dedicated in the long-term.
Follow Kyle on Instagram! @kyleaj489
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