Guest Post By: Lance Morrison
Occupation: Veteran U.S. Navy/Student
When I was younger I looked drastically different than I do now. My mother would tell me I could be healthier, never actually telling me that I was overweight and out of shape. I had a lot of bad habits at the time; I was in the Navy working nights, which led to lots of drinking after work and the inevitable unhealthy meal that followed a night of drinking. I never ate healthy or exercised and over the course of a year and a half I ballooned from 200 pounds to at my heaviest just under 300 pounds.
I knew I was getting heavier and could see the change in pictures taken of myself but for some reason there was always an excuse to dismiss my lifestyle excesses. One Saturday I got up and took a shower, and as I got out of the shower I looked at myself in the mirror. I had a life changing moment that is still crystal clear to me now. NO MORE! That’s all that I could think or say, no more being unhealthy, no more being lazy, no more bad eating habits, just no more of this life that is making me miserable.
From that moment on my life has been drastically different, from diet to exercise to overall happiness. I started eating healthy and working out and lost 100 pounds in three months.
When people find out how much weight I lost, the first question is always, “How’d you do it?” I wish I could say it was with some crazy diet or some intense workout routine but in reality it wasn’t, it is quite the opposite.
Everyone knows how to eat healthy we just choose not to. I started to eat healthy foods such as fruits, veggies, nuts, etc. while cutting out fast food and foods high in fats. Sounds simple right? Well let me tell you its not.
It’s extremely hard and difficult to change one’s diet. Most of us have been eating unhealthy our whole lives and trying to change that habit all of a sudden is very hard! It takes about six months for any change in lifestyle to take hold and become the new norm in our lives. So here are some tools that I used to make my changes stick during that first six months.
First and foremost is water! I drastically increased my water intake from maybe a couple of liters to a gallon or two a day. Before every meal, including breakfast, I would drink about 24-36oz of water before I ate, another 12-20oz while I ate, and another 24-36oz after I finished. This would help manage the smaller portions I was eating and make me feel full longer. This was also helpful when those snacking times came into play – eat a snack but drink that water before, during, and after.
This is a great plan until those cravings come in and you want to cheat on your diet, then no amount of water can save you. I don’t believe cheat days are bad, in fact, I think they are essential to any diet. When I first started, I gave myself the weekend off from exercise and the diet. I ate whatever I wanted on those days, anything I was craving during the week I had on the weekend. This was a great tool in the beginning to help me maintain my diet. Eventually, those cheat days shrank from the whole weekend down to just a single meal once a week. Diet is the biggest part of any weight loss program, not exercise, so stick with your diet no matter what! Skip the gym if you must but resist that burger and fries at all cost!
In the fight to lose weight, obviously cardio plays a part. My feeling is that cardio activity is an extremely important choice. My mother is a distance runner and loves it! I did not inherit that gene, I despise running! I find it too boring and repetitive. I needed a cardio activity that would challenge me both mentally and physically, something I could enjoy doing five times a week. Lucky for me my roommate at the time loved playing racquetball. I fell in love with the game from the first moment. I would go in there and throw myself around trying to hit that ball. I could see my skill level increase, my speed increase, and my range increase; basically I could see my physical conditioning getting better week-by-week.
For me this was the perfect cardio. I found myself not focusing on my breath, my steps, my time, or my distance but rather getting that next point or not letting my friend win this game. That allowed me to push myself past where I thought I could go, in addition, it made going to the gym fun. In my opinion that is the key word, fun! Find an activity you really enjoy and do it! If it’s running then run, biking then bike, basketball then play! Finding a cardio activity that pushes you mentally and physically is a huge plus.
It has been almost six years since I lost all my weight and in fact I have only increased my fitness level since taking an evolving method to staying in shape. My diet has changed over that time along with my workout routine. My diet consists of a lot of fruit and veggies! I eat apples, strawberries, carrots, pineapple, kiwi, bananas, green beans, and corn almost everyday and these foods are the staples in my diet. I no longer eat red meat instead have switched to salmon, chicken, and ground turkey. I will use turkey for almost anything that calls for red meat; I use it in spaghetti, tacos, burgers, stuffed peppers, etc.
My workout routine has evolved away from straight cardio (weight loss) to a more combined workout of weights and cardio. I have gone through many workouts to find the perfect one for me but have found it. Now I go to the gym and do mini-cycles of weight lifting coupled with cardio acceleration in-between sets. I am always changing the weight, the number of sets, and the cardio performed to keep my body guessing. This has allowed me to increase muscle mass; I added fifteen pounds of muscle, and dropped my body fat percent to seven.
Losing weight is not easy; it’s a grind both mentally and physically. The mistake most people make is the mental outlook on losing weight. Don’t view it as a short-term change because it’s not! It’s a long road and there aren’t any shortcuts. Don’t be mis-led. It takes dedication and sweat to make it happen, but trust me its worth it!!
“Losing weight is hard, however, most people lose weight fast! A few months after the diet starts (3-6 months for men, 6-12 months for women) people hit their target weight. Then the real test begins. Within a year of hitting their target weight, all the weight is back and then some!
The biggest accomplishment is not losing the weight, it’s keeping the weight off.”