If you've read part 1 of this blog then you probably already know what my strategy for getting into shape was going to be: start small, make gradual changes, be consistent, and don't be afraid to take short breaks from the plan. Small changes are the easiest to make. These small, gradual changes build up over time if they are maintained. Taking a week off to relax mentally or rest a twisted ankle or sore shoulder is smart for your body and prevents mental burnout. Even though I had a plan and great motivation there was one thing I wasn't prepared for: the response of those around me, both positive and negative.
In 2009 and 2010, I still didn't have access to a fitness center. So I did what I could with sit-ups, push-ups, and jumping jacks along with removing soda, beer, and other junk food. The weight slowly started to slough off. By the time 2011 rolled around I was down to 220lbs. Some people who don't see me often started to notice. Others started to notice my change in eating habits. I wasn't eating as much greasy food or fatty food. People noticed I wasn't eating bacon and asked if I became a vegetarian. No, I was just eating a healthier option. People wondered if I no longer liked them because I wasn't drinking booze with them. We were still friends, but I don't need booze to hang out or to have fun. I received a few positive comments but the majority were either worried or concerned comments. This was a surprise to me.
Finally, in 2011, I had access to a fitness gym. One goal I had this year was to get to 200lbs before the wedding day. This is what I weighed when I started college in 2004. After a lot of hard work I was able to reach my goal by reminding myself of my goal and my wife motivating me along the way. With the drop in weight I felt happier, healthier, and had more energy. My healthier life for an improved well being was just starting. I kept it up the following years. Slowly changing my goals and my methods to keep things fresh. The picture on the left is from a vacation trip with Lisa in 2012; I'm enjoying a Hershey Smore bar.
Thanks to a co-worker and his competitive nature I was pushed to do additional things. Things such as tracking calories using an App called "Lose It" and riding the trails of Omaha area. The picture on the right is from a trial ride to Elkhorn with my co-worker in 2013. As time moved on more and more of the comments I received were of the positive nature. Why did it take so long to receive more positive comments than negative ones? Maybe it has something to do with the current American culture?
The picture on the left was from an Easter celebration in 2014. Just before my 29th birthday I reached a goal I never thought I'd reach. My weight dropped to 170lbs. Over a 5 year period I lost about 70lbs. My new goal is to maintain my weight between 170 and 180. So far I have been able to maintain. I'm happier, healthier, and I generally feel better. My body still creaks and I tweak muscles once in a while but it occurs less often and the pain is much lower than it was when I started this journey.
Not until 2014 did the majority of comments I received about my getting healthy became mostly positive. I still receive a few negative comments such as "you're too skinny now" or "I can see/feel your ribs, that can't be healthy." The first time in my life I'm not listed as obese on the BMI chart and I get called too skinny and unhealthy. I guess the negative comments never go away. There were times in the past 5 years that the negative comments got to me and almost broke me.
Getting through the negativity was just as difficult if not more difficult than the workouts themselves. The motivation I had and the support given to me from my wife, friends, and family is what helped me get to and maintain a healthy lifestyle. I thank them for it and I love them for it. Five years after my golden birthday, my Chinese Zodiac year, and my commitment to improving my health. I am in my best shape I have ever been.
(p.s. added 05Oct2014: Something I forgot to mention about getting healthy versus just losing weight was an improvement. My resting heart rate dropped from 68 five years ago to 48 this year.)