I think like most kids I never really thought about health or what I was eating except that during my early years I was raised primarily as a vegetarian with an occasional hamburger or some chicken thrown in here and there. While I didn’t consume much in the way of meat, I LOVED milk. Our small family of four went through several gallons a week mainly because of my consumption. It didn’t seem to be a concern at the time, after all, it’s healthy because that’s where our best source of calcium comes from right?!
While in elementary school I was a bit on the heavier side, but once I hit high school I became very thin. Eating wasn’t that important and I skipped many meals. But that all changed when I started college. Everyone jokes about the “freshman 15” with regards to weight gain, but for me it was the freshman 30. The two liter coke became a close friend, keeping me going through late night cram sessions and boring lectures, and was of course the perfect compliment to a hamburger which had quickly become my “go to” and favorite meal hands down. Top that off with a few chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk and I was feeling pretty good!
It wasn’t like I never ate vegetables, but maybe only once a day and usually a very small portion. Unfortunately, the freshman 30, transitioned into the sophomore 30 which flowed easily into the junior 30. I was incredibly embarrassed by how much weight I had put on and always hid when a camera appeared. At this point, I leveled off somewhat, but I started noticing that I was pretty uncomfortable with back pain. I had always enjoyed playing sports but with the introduction of back pain, slower recovery time and lessened endurance, I really wasn’t that motivated to play anymore.
Then came graduation, a new job, a wedding and stress, so did the hamburgers and cookies followed by another 30 pounds! It was a vicious cycle. I ate because I was stressed, then I felt ashamed and stressed because I had eaten. Every few months I’d say I was going to eat healthier but that would only last about two weeks before I relapsed into the same old habits. Then one day I finally committed. I relied on my wife and immediate family members for accountability and began the process of eliminating soda, hamburgers and sweets.
I think the dumbest mistake I made was believing the best way to lose weight was to cut down my intake to the bare minimum. During the day it was mostly raw fruits and veggies but in very small portions. At night a bowl of soup, sometimes with some chicken, turkey or fish. I was SO hungry and started having headaches and nausea all the time. During those first six weeks, even though I lost about 15 lbs., I felt awful. The worst part was that I didn’t know how in the world I was going to make it through the next year basically starving myself in order to shed the pounds.
One Monday in February, I arrived at the office and became cautiously optimistic as the rest of the team started sharing all of the information they had gleaned from Dr. Hollie, The Dinner with the Doctor program and the FoK documentary. I was relieved and nervous. Relieved because I could eat all of this food until I was full and still lose the weight, but nervous that it was too good to be true. Making the transition as a team was great because we ate every breakfast and lunch together, and dinner was easy because I was at home. The biggest challenge then was the weekends when we’d travel to see family and friends who didn’t eat this way. I didn’t want to make a big deal about it or admit to a weight problem. So I cheated. I figured that it would be okay because I could get back on track during the week. It wasn’t. I was discouraged because the weight would come back faster than I could lose it.
The moment of clarity occurred after a weekend with family where I had eaten more than my fair share of sweets and my improved back pain became incredibly intense. That was proof to me that I needed to fully commit. I started to share with my family that it was a matter of health, not a diet.
Over the last 18 months I’ve lost 75lbs and no longer have back pain. My energy and endurance is much better and I ran my first half marathon together with my family. My favorite meal has switched from a burger, coke and cookies to a breakfast burrito with scrambled tofu and caribbean jerk sauce, oh, and anything with garlicky kale salad on the side! I am far more vocal and am much more open about my experience because I want other people to know there’s a better way to lose weight and improve your health without starving yourself!