This time last year my husband and I were morbidly obese and not very active at all. We were both unhappy with ourselves, had accepted that we were fat, and had kind of given up on changing. After the new year something was awakened inside of my husband because (last February), Justin decided that he wanted to change his lifestyle and lose weight. I immediately jumped on board and wanting to take this journey with him because I had a lot of pounds to drop as well. Justin searched for professional help and found someone that was quite reputable. The first meeting was on February 22, 2012. The woman told us that we were to toss out all of the unhealthy food and to start fresh. She said that one of the most important things to do first was to stop eating out all together unless it was for a special occasion or a circumstance that was outside of our control i.e. work or etc. In addition when we did eat out we were to still make conscious and healthy decisions. Therefore my days of going to Zaxby’s and getting a “wings and things” meal were over! Next it was made clear that we should have at least 64 ounces of water each day and more than that if exercising. Her recommended daily caloric intake was about 2,000 calories a day in the beginning (we now eat about 1,000 calories a day but are much smaller and require much less to sustain hunger). We were to have no sweets, sauces, butters, oils, breads (unless whole grains and no more than once a week), starches more than three times a week, high sodium, or a lot of processed foods. This is a high protein and low carb diet, so therefore we were recommended to have 140 grams of protein for a male and for a female 80-140 grams. We did not ask about nuts, cheeses, and snacks until a couple of months later. She said the first month not to even worry about the amount of exercise that we were doing.
Our official starting day of dieting and exercising began on February 23, 2012. I weighed 341 pounds at 5’5. This could have been seen as a new year’s resolution because of when we began this journey. However, I think that we were both just tired of being fat. It wasn’t really something that we wanted to do for the year but instead was more of a permanent lifestyle change. The night before we began, we scoped through every single item in our cabinets, freezer, and refrigerator. Justin and I threw almost ALL of it out! Well, some food items we gave away to family members because we did not want to be any more wasteful than we had to be. The items that were open we just trashed. By the time we finished that evening, our kitchen was almost completely bare. It was a good thing that there wasn’t a cake or anything at home that night because I probably would’ve scarfed that bad boy down before the “official” diet began.
The next morning we ventured out to the store and bought exactly what the professional had advised us to get. We bought fresh meat, vegetables, and fruit. We had no cheese, nuts, sweets, sauces (except for ketchup), processed foods, or any snacks. He and I used salt, herbs, and other spices to flavor our food. We stuck to the diet completely and really restricted ourselves. We had a serving of bacon and eggs each morning (we cut out bacon later on for cholesterol, fat, and sodium and the eggs for the cholesterol later on), 8 ounces of meat for lunch, and 8 ounces of meat for dinner. We had vegetables and fruit at each meal as well. We would have anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 calories a day. As far as exercise went we took it pretty easy the first month or too and would just do ADLS (activities of daily living) or walks outside. Below is an excerpt from “Our Diet in Detail” blog post displaying a general idea of what our overall diet is all about.
- Eat out unless it’s for a special occasion or is unavoidable.
- Eat bread or grains, and if you do make sure it is whole grain.
- Eat any kind of sauce or sauces. (We occasionally use Heinz Reduced Sugar Ketchup)
- Eat butters or oils.
- Eat Starchy sides such as potatoes more than three times a week.
- Eat too many high in fat meats.
- Eat sweetsof any kind (yes that includes all of my old favorite desserts!) The exception to this for us is the Danon 80 calorie non-fat greek yogurt. I also eat one cupcake a month
- Have high intakes of sodium. My husband and I have cut out adding salt to anything completely. However, in the beginning we used it to add flavor.
- Over do it with exercise.
- Don’t beat yourself up if you have a few “lazy days” or cheat on the diet. Just move on and start over the next day!
- Calorie Count and be conscious of what you are putting into your body.
- Drink at least 64 oz. of water a day. Water is important, and it helps to flush your system. The first few weeks we lost a lot of water weight.
- Have at least 5 servings of fruits and/or vegetables daily. These are great for sides and snacks. You can practically have unlimited fruits and veggies throughout the day while staying within the calorie range.
- Have around 140g protein a day if you are male and 80-140g of protein per day if you are female. Protein promotes muscle growth and helps to keep the body strong and full.
- Use as many herbs and spices as you’d like when flavoring meats, vegetables, fruits, and etc.
- Experiment with different foods and recipes!
- Find healthy snacks that you enjoy.
- Exercise regularly
- Remember that you are human. People make mistakes, and cheating on diets and exercise happens. Just make sure it doesn’t become a regular thing, and don’t let it get you down! When you slip or feel discouraged, just think about the positives that this change is bringing you and will continue to bring you. Move on from it and start a new day!
Over the next few months we began to cut out as well as add some things into our diet. Exercise wise we starting swimming a lot because of the summer time as well as playing golf. Justin and I also began walking a mile a few times a week at the local dam or park. Next we began doing the Couch to 5K training. Although Justin and I are still not up to running 5k, that program really got us started on beginning to jog and run. Now we just build our own exercise regimen for the day by knowing our strengths and weaknesses. However, in the beggining the C25K was a great tool! We also started on the NuStep and treadmill. Food wise, the first thing that we cut out was any added sodium (therefore we no longer would use salt in the kitchen) which included that delicious bacon that we got to have every morning for breakfast as well as any other pork products. However, we will still occasionally have some grilled veal or pork (once in a blue moon). We also stopped having eggs for breakfast because of the high amount of cholesterol and switched instead to non-fat 80 calories Greek yogurt that is low in carbs, sugar, and etc. We introduced some nuts into our diet for a while, but overall, we still go without nuts because of the high calorie content and fat. Occasionally I’ll buy some raw salt-free almonds, pistachios,peanuts, or cashews. Cheese-wise we cut it out and bring it back into the diet a lot. In the beginning we used slices of cheese or would measure out 1/4 cup of part-skim mozzarella. Although, now when we do have it, we use the 80 calorie or less cheese sticks. That way the serving is controlled and the calories have been predetermined already. My husband and I will only occasionally buy it now and usually reserve it for a recipe about once a week, when we will be traveling, or when we will be out of the house for most of the day. We used ketchup pretty sparingly in the beginning of the diet but cut that down quite a bit because of the calories, carbs, sugar, and sodium in ketchup. We reserve it for potatoes (that is my little indulgence not my husband’s) and a couple of recipes that we have come up with. After suffering from a huge craving of food (but no more than once a month), Justin and I would indulge in a healthier Lean Cuisine version of that item. I was once just dying for some Chinese food, so I got the Lean Cuisine egg roll with rice.
After a while Justin and I had to start picking up the amount of exercise that we engaged in and tried to go out and do something active every single day. That led to exercising daily except for Sundays. We figured it would be nice to have a day off allowing our bodies to rest. On days where there are injuries, soreness, or illness we also try to take the day off. In the past few months we have incorporated an incline on the treadmill which really adds to the workout. The NuStep is great for cardio as well as resistance. Eventually the weights at home and resistance on the NuStep just weren’t cutting it for us, so we decided to try something else. A couple of months ago, we joined a gym! We go two to three times a week and try do at least twelve reps and two to three sets. Besides that we do circuit training which consists of doing the sets and reps with little to no break in between. Our caloric intake is anywhere from 800 to 1,200 every day depending on our hunger level. Some days we will have 8 ounces of meat at each meal, whereas others we only have 4 ounces at lunch and 8 ounces at dinner or 4 and 4. Like I said it really just depends on how hungry we are. We still have a fruit with every meal and at least two servings of vegetables daily. Generally we have anywhere from four to six bottles of water daily as well. On strenuous exercise days, we tend to eat more. Justin has since stopped Lean Cuisines all together, and I still have them (as well as my one cupcake) each month. I also occasionally now have a single serving packet of peanut butter that comes with apples (150 calories, 5 grams of protein).
We each set a goal to lose a certain amount per month and anything less would not be acceptable. I set mine at 10 whereas he set his at 20. Each month Justin loses at least 20 pounds (sometimes anywhere from 21-30). A couple of times he has lost 30 per month! The first month I lost 20 pounds, the second 15, and since have shed about anywhere from 11-13 pounds. The smaller in size we got the harder we have had to work in order to reach our monthly weight loss goals. However, we still have not failed to reach them. Now, 11 months since February, Justin has lost a total of 231 pounds, and I have lost 134 which brings us to losing a grand total of 365 pounds combined! This time last year I would never have thought that I could lose this much weight in such short a time. Although I am currently 207 pounds and have quite a ways to go on this journey, I already feel so much better about myself emotionally and physically than I have in such a long time.
In conclusion, we have lost a lot of weight so far, and I have discussed how we are losing the weight through exercise and dieting. Nonetheless, our weight loss also has had a lot to do with the fact that we each have a great support system. My husband and I have had the pleasure of being in this completely together. We push and drive each other to keep going. I know for a fact that without Justin, I would probably have fallen off of the bandwagon months ago if it weren’t for him being right there with me in this. We appreciate as well as understand exactly what the other one is going through. In addition we have both been severely overweight and understand the struggles that come along with it. Although it is nice to have any kind of positive support, I feel like those who have never experienced what it is really like to be extremely overweight, may never completely get it. That is our year in review!