Fat at 31, fit at 32

My name is Tony, and I have a fat problem. I’ve been fat my entire life – at least since I could feel self-conscious about that fact. I’ve always been slow, asthmatic, poorly-coordinated, and on top of all that, been subject to a binge-eating disorder that, thought undiagnosed, is readily apparent. I look back to my childhood and see myself sneaking cookies when I was home alone, and not just a couple, but handfuls, and eating them like a hoarding squirrel, getting a perverse sense of pleasure in the act. As a young adult, I’d sit for hours and hours playing WoW and I’d break up the monotony by going to Wendy’s or Taco Bell and getting 15-20 dollars worth of food for one sitting for myself. The food was comforting and pathological – I felt out of control and anxious (I do have a diagnosed general anxiety disorder, along with clinical depression) when I wasn’t in my little nest with a lot of food. These factors led me to gain weight until I was 450 pounds and I hated being in public, even to hang out with friends. I flaked on plans and simply didn’t do anything that I couldn’t scurry from public eyes quickly – if I went to the movies, it had to be at a time when nobody else would be there, or way after release, when attendance would be down significantly.

What finally prompted a change was college, actually. I went back at the age of 26, after failing multiple classes and whole semesters due to my weight and anxiety. I remember a lot of times going to class and driving around the parking lot, over and over, until I finally drove home, because I wasn’t early enough to get to a seat in the back without walking past people. In addition, walking across the flat parking lot and taking the elevator made me out of breath for 15 minutes and drenched me in sweat, even in the winter. Doing grocery shopping at Walmart in the dead of the night, walking down aisles of the store cold as sin would make me hot and clammy. Finally I’d had enough – I used to lift weights and was in reasonably good shape leaving high school, and I wanted to get back to that.

I started losing weight just by moving more. I had a part-time job that required me to move files and stand, and I dropped 20 pounds very quickly just doing that, not changing my diet at all. In time, I added a morning walking routine. I still got up very early to avoid people seeing me walking, but I did about a mile a day, and even though my body was out of alignment at first, which caused me a lot of discomfort, and even though I had to go slow at first because I was so out of shape, eventually it got easier, and I could go further. I slowly started lifting weights and then got a personal trainer for a month once I got to around 380 pounds. It was rough – very hard on my knees and back, but I kept losing weight. Around 350, I started to reevaluate how I was eating, and that’s when I started to look hard at what I “knew” about diet and nutrition, and since my mom lost weight following the Atkins diet, I gave it a try.

The results were nearly meteoric. I lost weight very quickly, and started lifting weights 4-5 times a week. I went from 350 to 300 in two months, had more energy, gained on my lifts, and was actually eating healthfully for the first time since my grandmother cooked meals for me as a kid. I was monitoring my carbs and my protein intake, and eating vegetables. Following weight-lifting and low carb eating, I dropped down to 249 pounds – the best I’d been in my adult life, and the best shape I’d ever been in as well. I started to date, stopped needing my anxiety medication, and felt incredible.

Then, well, I had a couple of kids. I love them and their mother more than anything, but it’s difficult to stay focused when you’re not sleeping. Down to about 5 hours of sleep a night, I found it was hard to eat healthfully, focus my willpower,  and especially exercise. I’ve ballooned back up to 280, lost muscle mass, lost conditioning, and overall I feel pretty gross. My clothes are bulgy on my body, my tendency to binge-eat has come back in a very real way, and it’s getting difficult to chase my toddler around. I hate this of course, and I’ve vowed to get in shape. Not just get in shape, but get in the best shape of my life, and stay that way.

I’m starting this journey today, 10/6/15 – just about three weeks from my son’s second birthday, and about 5 months from my 32nd. I will be following a diet of my own devising – knowing that overindulgence in added sugar in the American diet is a large, if not the largest, contributor to obesity, my diet will focus on cutting it out. I will eat only whole foods, and I will still restrict my carbohydrates, but I’m not cutting healthy carbs out entirely. Because of the protein and amino acid profile, I will be including quinoa as a replacement for rice and pasta, but aside from that, grains are out. I will be focusing on eating lots of vegetables, and will be honestly trying to be as vegetarian as possible, though still allowing fish in my diet because of how insanely healthy it is, so I guess that makes me pescetarian.

Fruits, nuts, quinoa, vegetables, lean meats, eggs, dairy (as whole as possible, so no flavored yogurts or ridiculous cheeses) fish, and legumes will make up my diet for the next 30 days, and I will be following an increasingly difficult body weight program for beginners. To increase my weight loss, I will log all my food, my exercise, my mood – anything that could contribute, positively or negatively. In 30 days, and then in the four months following until I turn 32, I will go from a fat dad to a fit dad, and I will log it here. Here’s to change!

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