Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Difference Between Skinny and Healthy

During my weight loss journey, and even now that it's over, I love hearing from people and how they are planning on starting their own weight loss journey. One thing I've been hearing more and more is that people are wanting weight loss because they want to be skinny. When I asked them about being HEALTHY too, some people said that wasn't a focus of theirs. Everybody is wired differently and I totally get that, but if all we want is to be skinny, then the weight loss is only going to be temporary.

When I first began my journey, I was told that if I really wanted something that was going to last, then it had to be a lifestyle change. The biggest challenge I faced was my nutrition. But, I was also told that as long as nutrition was my primary focus, I would be able to start working on my fitness as time progressed. As long as I had a goal for better health overall, not only would I eventually become skinny, but I would also have built a foundation that would stay in place after my journey was finished.

Many people think that if you have a goal weight, once you hit it, then the maintenance should stop at that point. You got what you wanted all of this time! Now, go back to the way things were before. Throw nutrition out the window, forget about your exercises, and have at it! I always thought that, at least. As someone who had never been in good shape before, I truly believed most of it was genetics. Someone who is fit probably was just fortunate enough to be born that way and doesn't have to worry about what they eat or how often they move around. I didn't like the idea of having to "work" the rest of my life to become the person that I wanted to be. I wanted it to just happen.

At the beginning of my weight loss journey, I didn't exercise for probably 3-4 months. I wanted to learn how to have my nutrition down, yes, but I honestly was also too big to do anything other than walk. So, I worked up a diet plan that was comfortable for my taste buds, something that I thought was achievable, and I worked on that for the first few months. I drank lots of water, and I juiced once every other day. Just by doing these things alone, I probably lost around 40 pounds. (I was also VERY big so the weight was going to come off faster anyways just because of my size and because I had more to lose than an average size person)

One reason why I'm sharing that is because a lot of people think in order for you to begin a successful weight loss journey, you have to get a gym membership and workout for hours, all while doing nothing but clean eating 7 days a week. You certainly CAN do that, but eventually it's going to become overwhelming. The best way to look at a healthy lifestyle is ask yourself, "Can I do what I've planned out for myself for the rest of my life?" If you don't think you can continue doing what you're doing now at the intensity that you are now, then dial some things back. The idea is to have a long-term focus, not a short-term.

Over time, as I lost weight, I was able to start incorporating small exercises into my journey. They grew into longer durations as time continued. My body's ability to handle more was growing. Eventually, I started craving to be active because I wanted to do things I couldn't before. Now that I'm out of the "journey" stage and in the "lifestyle" stage, a regular week for me looks like this: clean eating 6 days a week and 1 cheat day. 4 days a week of 45 minute workouts and 1 day of a 30 minute workout. It's something that I know I can do long-term without wearing myself out.

Find your niche. Make sure it's something that is catered to what you like. Enjoy the process. Don't forget to have fun. Push yourself and always remember that, like an arrow, you've got to move forward.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My Story

For my first entry of this blog, I kind of wanted to explain what got me to this point. As much as I want to start doing writings on the future and write about things that are current, I think I need to explain the past to get to the present. So, here it goes.

On July 1st, 2013, I was approximately 370 pounds. I've always been tall, but the weight was overwhelming and the height didn't do nearly enough to offset my width. Getting to that point was a gradual decline that happened over a period of twenty one years at that time. I had always been big growing up so for the longest time, I just wrote it off. If I saw something, I ate it. If I was hungry or not, I always knew that my stomach would find room for it. I craved the feeling of being full more than the taste of the food. For me, if I felt full, then my heart would be happy.

I try to think of the one epiphany people have in movies that completely overtakes them and helps them transform into the person they were always meant to be. Some incredibly inspiring conversation between Uncle Ben and Peter Parker. Unfortunately for the story's sake, I'm not NEARLY as cool as those guys so I hope this will still do.

For me, it was multiple things that happened very quickly. 

I was a size 48 in pants. I refused to admit that I needed to get bigger pants and so the ones I had continued to shrink on me. It was definitely the pants shrinking, it couldn't possibly be me getting bigger! Well, my continually shrinking pants began to rip on me. Whether it be the inside of my thigh, or if the button was popping off from the continued stress of keeping up with my belly. My incredible wife would try to sew up these rips (often secretly) to help prevent me from being embarrassed. Even though they were all sewed up, they were just no match for my increasing girth. The rips continued.

While dealing with pants I had no business wearing, I found myself getting out of breath over the smallest things. A flight of stairs was my sworn enemy. A walk outside left me winded, sweating profusely, and questioning why people would ever see walking as a hobby! It was a disgusting thought.

I remember a photo session that my wife had planned for pictures of her and I. We didn't have any nice pictures of us so she was really excited. I hated the idea. Not because of her (she's gorgeous) but because I knew how much I would take away from her shine. Here, you have a girl who is so naturally adorable, and then you have this gargantuan just taking up space in the picture. On top of all of that, the shirt that I wore in the pictures was the largest we could find but still wouldn't button. So, I wore it unbuttoned. When I look at those pictures now, I can see the defeat I felt. I had quickly become the saddest I've ever felt in my life.

I wanted to look the way I thought I could. I wanted to be the Josh that I knew I could be, but nobody had ever seen. So I decided it was time for a change. My wife definitely deserved a husband who took care of himself, but I also did it for me. I knew that I needed to want it if I would change. And I wanted it. Badly.

I started small. I knew salads were things healthy people ate. I heard water was good for the body. So, with those two things, I started the most difficult journey I've ever experienced and within the span of one year and six months, I lost a total of 160 pounds.

It was a tedious process. Learning about nutrition, juicing, exercising, fighting severe depression, all while still trying to find the Josh I've never been able to be. I'm thankful for the process. I've pushed myself to do things I would become nauseous thinking about before. I've run 5k's, I've biked for miles and hours, I've cried and bled in order to make my dreams a reality, and I fought hard the whole way. 

When the weight loss portion of my journey was winding down and my goal weight was in sight, I got a tattoo of an arrow on my arm. It's to remind myself that an arrow, once it's shot, won't change its course of direction by its own volition. In the same way for me, I'm not turning back. Like an arrow, I'm moving forward.