I’ve been overweight most of my life. I experienced many years of depression that started in elementary school. From that moment until early 2012, I have consistently gained weight.

In January, I decided that I had to get serious about weight loss, so I did.

While driving to work one morning, I decided that if I didn’t do something to change my life at that exact moment, that I never would. I made a contract with myself that I would immediately go and sign up at a gym and get a personal trainer, that I would do everything that trainer told me to do, and that I wouldn’t look back or second guess myself. I had thirty years of being irresponsible, now it was time for some personal responsibility.

So, that’s what I did. I messaged the office to say that I would be late. I drove to Results Fitness, a gym near my office and home. I met Jeff Miller, a trainer at Results. I signed up for the gym and to meet Jeff every Tuesday and Thursday. I committed to eat a specific meal plan every meal of every day. I do what my trainer tells me. I haven’t looked back. I haven’t second guessed my decision. I haven’t regretted anything.

How has that worked out for me? I’ll let you be the judge:

January 19, 2012 July 13, 2012 Difference
Weight 339 256 -83
Shirt XXXL XL -XX
Pants 48″ 38″ -10″

I’d say that is a definite improvement.

How have I done all this? I’ve just been sticking with the plan.

I meet with Jeff every Tuesday and Thursday. He leads me through thirty minutes of weight training, and I do everything that he tells me to do. Even when it is hard.

I’ve learned through the nutrition classes at Results that doing cardio immediately after weight training gives a huge benefit as it is basically pure fat burn. So, I hop on the treadmill for an hour after the weight training, and I push myself to make those numbers on the treadmill readout go higher than they went last time.

I eat what I’m supposed to and when I’m supposed to. It’s always the same thing for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. I don’t even have to think about what I’m going to buy at the grocery store. I know what I eat and what I’m low on. There isn’t any need to wander the store and get stuck buying a bunch of junk that I don’t need. I know that not everyone can do the exact same thing every meal, every day, but I invite you to try it. It really drives home how food really is just fuel. You learn to focus on more important things than just food. For instance, we now play board and card games during lunch since food isn’t the main focus. We now talk and interact more during lunch. And I’d argue that we have a lot more fun.

My trainer told me that doing the same thing all the time can get my metabolism in a rut, so I get one cheat meal a week. It can be any meal, and I can eat anything I want; however, it is just the single meal. If it is Tuesday, I ate my cheat meal on Sunday, and I’m really craving some pizza, that’s fine, but I have to wait until next Sunday, at the earliest, to eat it. I’ve found that cravings are very fleeting things. If they aren’t satisfied quickly, they simply go away. So, cravings really don’t bother me any more. If I think of something that sounds good, I tell myself that I will try to eat that next week, and that’s enough to satisfy my craving. I think that the mental idea of having a craving satisfied is a significant portion of what cravings are.

I’ve found that when time for a cheat meal does roll around, I really don’t know what to eat as any cravings I had are long gone. I’m so used to eating the same thing all the time, having a choice just seems weird and overwhelming.

I have to admit that I was really scared when I started. The idea that I couldn’t back out really frightened me. What if I couldn’t do it? What if I let myself down again? What if I really miss a certain food? All sorts of negative thoughts of failure haunted me.

The amazing thing is that it has all been much easier than I expected it to be. I’ve learned that the mind is so much more powerful than we give it credit for. My mind will tell me that I can’t do that next set of weights, but amazingly, my body just goes ahead and finishes them. My body tells me that I need to back off of the speed of the treadmill, but ten minutes later, I’m still going. My mind tells me that having an extra cheat meal really won’t hurt anything and that it would feel really good, but then I have what I normally eat and feel great despite not eating a bunch of junk. Everything I know about my limits is just in my head and most of that is a lie. My instinct is to eat as much food as possible while spending the least amount of energy as possible. Unfortunately, we humans, have just gotten far too good at this. Now we have a responsibility to use our mind against itself in order to be healthy.

I’ve found that the reward of success, of progress, and of results is so much greater than the fleeting boosts given by food. I feel better both physically and mentally. I can now look in a mirror and feel proud of my accomplishment and excited about what the next month will bring.

Over the past six months, I’ve found some key actions and thoughts that have really helped me:

  • When deciding to lose weight, don’t keep it a secret. Share your desire to lose weight with everyone you know. Ask everyone to motivate and encourage you. Ask them to keep you accountable and to not tempt you. Having just one person say the right thing at the right time can help you get through a tough day. The more people that know and encourage you, the greater the chance of that support being there when you need it.
  • When setting goals, make them achievable within a relatively short period of time. Achieving a goal gives you a huge boost and gives you a reason to keep going. If your goal takes four months to achieve, you will become disappointed and quit. I always have two goals. For instance, my current next goal is to reach 250 and the goal after that is to get to 235. Once I reach 250, I will set another goal. In theory, I could set a third goal, but if my weight loss speed starts to slow when I hit 250, I want to take that into account when setting my next goal. If my weight loss continues going at a good speed, I’ll make my next goal to get to 220. If it starts to slow, I’ll make it to get to 225. The whole idea is to make the goal something to push for without putting it out of reach.
  • When you reach a goal, tell people. They will share in your victory and give you that warm fuzzy feeling. I’m not an expert in psychology, but I know that getting positive feedback like this helps reconfigure your brain to say “keep doing that because it feels good.”
  • Don’t become your worse enemy. Never ask yourself if you “feel like it.” Don’t think. Don’t give yourself a chance to second guess yourself. Simply do it.
  • If you are getting comfortable, you aren’t working hard enough. Jeff pushes me on my weight training. I push myself on the treadmill. As soon as I notice that the treadmill is getting easier, I push it up a notch. The fact is that I am getting much stronger, my endurance is greatly increased, and my heart and lungs are much more powerful now. If I don’t keep pushing myself, I won’t keep progressing. When I first started, 10 minutes on the treadmill at 3 miles per hour would leave me gasping for air and drenched with sweat. Now, I do a full hour after each training session and can top out at 5.2 miles per hour for more than 15 minutes straight. I still finish drenched with sweat, but only because I continue to push myself. If I finish and I’m not soaked, I let myself down and didn’t get enough value out of my hour long investment.
  • Food is fuel, not entertainment.

There are a number of people that I need to thank for all of this progress.

  • Thanks to Jeff Miller for being an awesome trainer. You have done a great job keeping me focused and encouraging me to keep pushing forward.
  • Thanks to Results Fitness for giving me the physical and mental tools I need to succeed. The staff and members are always positive and get as excited about my progress as I do. Every time I’m in the gym I get great compliments and positive encouragement to keep pushing forward. It feels great to have a gym that I’m comfortable being in.
  • Thanks to Brian Attebery, owner of Results Fitness. Thank you so much for creating such an amazing gym that focuses on creating genuine results; for hiring a talented, knowledgeable, and positive staff; and for teaching nutrition classes that changed how I look at food.
  • Thanks to my chiropractor, Josh Spears for getting my hip, back, and neck alignment issues in check.
  • Thanks to Cory Miller of iThemes, my friend and boss, for allowing me to take time in the middle of the day to go and exercise. I don’t think this would have worked otherwise.
  • Thanks to my friends and family. I asked everyone to encourage me, keep me accountable, and to not tempt me to bring back bad habits. The support that I’ve received has really helped me succeed. Without this support, I don’t think that I could have gotten very far.
  • Thanks to me for finally having the courage and discipline to get serious about taking care of myself. I’ve often said that there are three versions of me: the past me (the stupid one), the present me (the irresponsible one), and the future me (the judgemental one). In the past, I only lived for the present me and felt ashamed of the past me and indignant towards the future me. This was not a good way to live. I still live in the present, as I have yet to perfect time travel, but by being more responsible and giving up some of the control to the hard choices made by the past me and the desires of the future me, I have found that I am much more content with the present me. I now am proud of the past me and look forward to becoming the future me.

I hope that some or all of this can be an inspiration to you, whoever you are.

Is everything I’ve done right for you? Maybe, maybe not. Everyone is different.

Is it possible for you to set goals and achieve them? Absolutely.

If you are interested in losing weight, I encourage you to give it your all, right this very moment. Tell yourself what you are going to do and then do it. Don’t let your doubts consume you or distract you. Set your goal, do everything you need to achieve that goal, and don’t look back. You are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for.