A year ago today, I declared that I, El Chris, would become a douchebag. I declared that I would refuse food that didn’t conform to my specific diet. I declared that I would commit to a fitness plan and drink the Kool Aid. I also declared that I would cease my inaction and apathy toward my health. In case you weren’t glued to my blog on January 22nd, 2013, here’s a synopsis:
I went to my cardiologist for my annual heart scan to monitor my defective heart. At the follow up, I tipped the scale at just under 260 pounds. My cardiologist had good and bad news for me.
“Your heart is in great shape, at least for now. You can keep doing what you’re doing and get your heart valve replaced in two years, or you can drop the weight and put off the surgery for another twenty. Your choice.”
So I made my choice. I would diet. I would exercise. I would lose the weight. I would do whatever it took lose that weight.
So here I am. A year later. What’s changed? More importantly, what have I learned?
1. Feeling guilty about what I eat doesn’t change the fact that I ate it in the first place.
A year ago, I would eat a meal. Then I would have seconds and possibly thirds. Then I would feel guilty for eating so much. Then I would feel ashamed for eating so much. Then the cycle would repeat as I did nothing about it and my waistline grew. Once my gym challenged us to follow the paleo diet, I jumped in headfirst and didn’t look back. Once I quit eating crap, my food guilt went away.
2. Whining about being overweight doesn’t do a damn thing.
For more than a year before I changed my diet and started exercising, I complained about being overweight and out of shape. You might be surprised, but this accomplished nothing. I told everyone I knew that my doctors said I had to lose weight, but I didn’t actually DO anything. It wasn’t until my cardiologist told me how dire the situation was that I actually DID something about it.
3. Your diet matters just as much as how hard you exercise.
I learned the hard way that you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. I would run ten miles and then eat third and fourth helpings of pasta and bread. I ate triple-layer peanut butter and chocolate chip sandwiches on leg day, but “just for the protein.” I drank two or three diet sodas with each meal because they didn’t have any calories! After all that, I couldn’t figure out why I was gaining weight.
4. Exercising matters just as much as your diet.
Dieting works wonders, but if you want to get in shape, you need to exercise.
5. No matter how hard you work, there is always someone stronger, faster, and better than you.
I exercise with athletes who compete on a national level. Some are years younger than I am and built like gods and goddesses. They don’t think twice before putting on a snug t-shirt or exercising three times in a day. I, on the other hand, have to pep myself up to get out of bed and exercise. I still hate wearing t-shirts and pants fresh from the dryer, and watching me do burpees is like watching someone slap a full water balloon on a table. But I don’t quit.
6. Taking three weeks off from the gym and going back is WAY harder than just making the time to go.
I thought I was prioritizing and saving my sanity when I took the time between Thanksgiving and New Years off from the gym. Instead, I got psyched out thinking about returning. I got weaker. I got chubbier. My pants got tighter. I was sore for a week when I finally returned. Taking that time off was a dumb move that I won’t repeat.
7. Committing to a diet is infinitely easier with support.
My lovely, patient wife could not have been more supportive. She has embraced this lifestyle with me wholeheartedly, finding recipes for exciting new food, and encouraging me. This would have been an awful year without her support.
8. People are dicks when they find out you’re on a diet.
While LOTS of people are incredibly supportive, many people get personally offended when they find out I’m on a diet. Sometimes I’m met with downright hostility. I’m sure vegetarians can sympathize with me on this. It’s funny how someone who eats a box of Cheez-its for lunch will lecture me on how unhealthy my diet is. At times, it’s clear how threatened many folks feel when encountering someone making healthy changes.
9. Sometimes you have to change your goals.
My goal was to lose 80 pounds in a year. I’m only about halfway there. Sometimes, life truly DOES get in the way. Most of my summer was dedicated to moving into our new house and rehabbing it to be livable. Between three jobs and the work in the house, my goals had to be put on hold. But I didn’t abandon them. Instead, I’ve hit them again with renewed vigor. I’m well on track to achieve my target of an eighty pound weight loss, but I had to adjust my timeframe.
10. This is hard, and that’s okay.
Breaking my relationship with food was hard. Getting out of a warm bed and heading to a cold gym is hard. Turning down drinks and pizza with my friends is hard. Inviting my friends over and cooking them delicious food that I won’t eat is hard. But I do it.
It hasn’t been an easy year. It hasn’t been an easy path. But it’s been worth it. Here’s to another healthy year full of personal records.