Lifestyle Prior To Change
My lifestyle before the change was rather sedentary, mainly due to not working and being clinically depressed. Not only had my weight fluctuated after high school, but after having dropped out of college, I gradually gained during those few years. My day literally was being a night owl, sleeping until the afternoon, on the computer all day and only eating a few times a day. My meals consisted of mostly pasta type foods, with little to no protein and of course would always follow that with some sort of fatty treat like Ben and Jerry's.
I hadn't realized the weight gain as I had no scale, and all mirrors were only vanity (face to shoulder length), until I'd gone to the physician one day and was put on the scale: 180 lbs. You'd think just seeing that number would be enough. After all, the last time I'd weighed myself, I was about 145 pounds, which had been a few years prior.
Nothing changed. Just wrote it off as the scale being wrong. It wasn't until a picture of my family and I was taken at party thrown for my parents 25th wedding anniversary, did it hit me in the face. I saw, for the first time, what I really looked like. Crying for a day at least, I finally took that picture and really stared at it - I've had enough. After speaking with my parents for help, I sought someone to finally aid me of my life-long battle with depression. A few months later, December 31 approached, my resolution was to finally control mental illness, quit smoking, and lose weight and keep it off. I hadn't looked back since.
The Transformation Journey
In the beginning, the weight loss was disappointingly slow. And at times, I felt like giving up - covering all mirrors in the apartment, because I couldn't stand to look at myself. However, with the help from my family for motivational purposes, I stuck with it.
I started off with 15 minutes on the treadmill for a couple of weeks. Then I increased that to half an hour a few days a week, used Tae-Bo (muay thai training replaced Tae-Bo starting August 2001) and started weight lifting with the help of my brother-in-law and my father for form and exercises to perform.
I gave myself one to two days rest a week. I also dropped all carbs, eating mostly fish, chicken, buffalo, protein powder (the first brand was one given to me by my homeopathics specialist, from there I'd gone to GNC, then finally ON 100% Natural Whey) vegetables and fruits (which were kept at a minimum and eaten early in the day), rarely giving myself a cheat. Slowly the weight was coming off. To give you an idea, I'd gone from a size 16 - 18 in January 2001 to a size 12 to 14 by June 2001. By the end of 2001, at the age of 24, I was down to a size 5 to 7 and weighed a much leaner and stronger 120 lbs.
Diet And Exercise Plan
I've learned a few things and had decided to compete starting in the Fall of 2006. Since then, my diet has changed somewhat and my workouts have also changed.
I've since been eating a more balanced diet, now incorporating complex-carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, brown rice, shredded wheat and oatmeal. Nutrition is now according to my needs and requirements, on and off seasons.
My weight lifting routine is now done three to four days a week with cardio about 5 to 6 days a week. I also live a more fulfilled and active life, having more of a love of the outdoors than ever: biking, hiking, and walking to name a few things. I'm happier and more confident.
I'm also an inspiration to others, which keeps me focused and motivated and gives me more of a reason to keep my new lifestyle.
Advice For Others
I honestly feel that if I can do it, anyone can. When it gets hard and you feel like giving up, do what it takes to continue - find others to work out with, get your family and friends involved in a healthier lifestyle, look for support online if needed, just keep going. Failure isn't falling off the wagon at one meal, or one day, failure is not getting back on to continue the journey.
Although unrealistic, I find The Biggest Loser to be rather motivating, inspirational and educational. Use that as a tool, or maybe an excuse to start. NBC has a way to feed the nation with every pound you lose. I can't think of a better way to feel better about yourself in more ways than one.