I was always a larger kid throughout my childhood and figured it was genetics which prevented me from being lean. It was difficult going anywhere where I needed to take my shirt off and although I made the best of it, it affected my confidence greatly. In 2011, I weighed 265 pounds and was gaining more weight quickly.
After a doctor’s visit, it was determined that my blood pressure was going up and my cholesterol level was high. Being only 25 years old at the time, they were concerned as to why I was already developing medical issues. About a year of various medical tests it was discovered that one of my kidneys did not develop properly from birth. My doctor immediately put me on blood pressure and cholesterol medicine to reduce the strain on my “good” kidney. He informed me that more than likely, I would be taking these strong drugs the rest of my life.
I did a little research of my own and discovered that with the proper diet and exercise routine, I could naturally lower both my cholesterol and blood pressure without any additional medication. Older people can afford to take these strong drugs as they would not have to worry about the side effects, but at 25 years old, there were no studies conducted on the long-term use of them. I was not satisfied with being the “test dummy”. At no point did my doctor attempt to naturally solve my medical issues and instead turned to pharmaceuticals immediately.
In 2012, I made a complete lifestyle change. I was determined to drop my weight, and set myself a goal of reaching 180 pounds. Many of my friends questioned whether I would be able to reach this goal – and some even criticized my methods. I made fitness and nutrition part of my daily lifestyle. I worked daily at 7AM so I was at the gym each day at 4:30AM and it was part of my daily routine. I constantly read articles on proper nutrition and proper fitness techniques. The phrase “you are what you eat” was familiar to me but I did not realize how true it was until I changed my diet. I was motivated, and there was no stopping me. Within the first 6 months, I carved my weight down to 220 pounds – but I was still not satisfied. I made going to the gym my priority, quit going out drinking and partying, and focused on my health and physique.
By 2013 I had surpassed my goal of 180 pounds and hit my low of 165 pounds. At this point, I reduced my cardio in order to prevent excess weight loss and started to concentrate more on building up muscle mass while maintaining a low body fat percentage. Eating was now more important than ever and I realized that I could manipulate my body image simply by the amount and types of food I was consuming. Both my blood pressure and my cholesterol steadily declined to the point where the strong drugs were no longer needed – my drugs turned into the food and supplements which helped guide my progress.
Protein bars were not part of my diet due to the amount of sugar, unhelpful fillers, and lack of healthy fiber – I could not believe that these candy bars were marketed as health bars! But that was until I tried an Apple Pie Quest Bar at my local nutrition shop. I was astonished at the nutrition facts and amazed at how good it tasted. Quest had actually developed a protein bar which tasted great, and helped me move forward towards my goals. These bars are now a staple in my diet and I look forward to eating them daily.
Today, I make it a point to go to the gym at least 5 days a week and am always critiquing what I eat and drink. If the food does not do anything beneficial for me, I don’t eat it. I am at a healthy 185 pounds and am slowly gaining muscle weight, while still keeping my body fat in check. I strongly believe that fitness and nutrition are important to living a healthy, happy, and enjoyable life. I no longer lack the confidence that I was missing when I was larger. Don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot do something. If you put your mind to it and set realistic goals along the way, you will accomplish it!
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