Growing up, I was always a big kid. I love to eat, and that became very important in my life. I ate fast food almost daily because it was easy—going out and having a few beers and a burger sounded way better than water and a healthy meal. By age 21 or so I was 320 pounds, and my weight yo-yo’d a bit. Physically, I felt fine. Psychologically, though, I was really self-conscious, afraid to approach a girl or go out with friends for fear of embarrassing myself.
I spent Thanksgiving day of 2019 with friends, and there were a lot of new faces, people I hadn’t met. Toward the end of the day, a three-year old cousin ran up, grabbed my leg, and started yelling, “FAT GUY” over and over. It took a few seconds for everyone to understand what he was saying but I heard it immediately. His parents were embarrassed but I laughed it off. I recognize that one of the best/worst things about children is that they have no inhibition. He said what no one else really would but probably thought at one point.
That December I decided it was time for a change. I had tried fitness plans and diets in the past, but couldn’t stay motivated. Somehow, this time that kid calling me out gave me the drive to go forward.
I started with keto, but the excessive fat made me physically uncomfortable. I switched to a paleo diet of mainly salads and protein—lots of chicken. I fell off the wagon a few times, but with the help of a nutritionist got a consistent meal plan going.
I also got a gym membership and started walking. I’d begin with an hour at a five-degree incline, switching to the maximum fifteen-degree incline every five minutes. As I got stronger I added more time to the maximum-incline time. I’ve also started running and weightlifting, and I golf and rollerblade—I’m not great at either, but this year is for new experiences and ways to get out of my comfort zone.
I’m currently 115 pounds down from where I started. I’m still a work in progress, with the goal of being around 180 pounds with more muscle. I feel a million times better. Early on, I noticed that I slept better and through the whole night—before, I hadn’t even realized how bad my sleep was. I can buy clothes that I feel comfortable in, and showing off a little is a great feeling. I was at a wedding a month ago and my friends there were shocked at how slim I looked.
Dating’s obviously strange given the current pandemic, but my success on dating apps has definitely improved. Hopefully, once we are back to a safe near-normal, I will be at my goal and ready to get back onto the dating circuit.
From a surface level my journey has been physical, but it has also been psychological, personal, and for general health. I do not plan to be finished with improving myself in all those aspects until the end of my days. —As told to Jesse Hicks
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