I caught the health bug and it changed my life.

Introduction

For a long time I've taken a lot. I've read articles, I've read books, I've watched documentaries; I've taken. What I want to do now is give. I want to give to those who need to change the way they feel and think about themselves. This isn't a vanity post it's a post with the intention of inspiring one person to change by knowing that it is possible to lose weight.

I don't want this to read like another success story. I want this to be hard truth inspirational post into changing your life. This article is long and that's deliberate. Focus and determination is part of the journey.

The Journey

My journey started eighteen months ago. I was an obese borderline alcoholic. I would go to the pub at least three days a week after work (and drink over the weekend) stop by the kebab shop at midnight and wake up eight hours later on my sofa groggy with BBQ sauce and meat stains down my shirt. To get to work it wasn't uncommon for me to drag myself up a slight hill to the top of the street where I'd flag down the nearest taxi. I did no exercise ate the wrong foods and drank the wrong stuff. I always wanted to be lean, fit, be able to buy clothes off the high street. I always wanted to change but never did anything about it.

Since June 2012 I've lost 27 kilos. This isn't the large number that gets you on the front page of health magazines but it's still a significant loss. My starting weight was 145kg and as of this morning it was 118kg. Yes, I know - body weight isn't a good unit of measurement. August 2013 (When I started capturing BF%) I was 37% body fat and am now down to 26%.

The battle

Over the last eighteen months I've hit high highs and low lows. The one thing that has remained consistent for me has been the drive to succeed and change myself.

Losing weight and changing your lifestyle is tough. Think about it, you've probably been fuelling your body with unhealthy foods and not exercising for a long time (well over a decade for me). You can't expect to immediately undo all the effort you've put into becoming unhealthy. It takes time. For most people this is the most difficult bit.

Time

You don't wake up the next morning and find yourself completely changed. It's a process; it's step by step. I think the majority of people who want to lose weight and become healthier set unrealistic expectations. I was the same. I wanted instant results and when it didn't happen I started to lose motivation but I persisted knowing that the journey of a thousand miles starts with that first step. Have patience and stay strong. The reward at the end will change everything about you.

Effort

You change you. Your partner can't do this for you and neither can your friends. Yes your partner and your friends will offer you support but they can't put in the effort that you need to put in. This is the barrier to entry for a lot of people. Here's the long and short of it - If you want to continue hating what you see in the mirror and you enjoy shopping in the 'big men’s/women' section then by all means carry on. If you can't bear to bring yourself to continue down that path then know that you need to put in the effort.

Start with something small. Don't swing for the fence.

I've tried losing weight before and always failed. I truly believe that trying to do too much at the start leads to failure. My initial great weight loss was achieved purely through diet. I can tell you with honesty I didn't do any exercise. I was repulsed by the thought of doing exercise. For starters, what type of exercise should I be doing? I couldn't be bothered researching, and I couldn't be bothered getting onto the $1,000 bike that I'd purchased a year beforehand and only ridden once. Eighteen months on and that is completely different but when I started I didn't want to exert myself any more than I had to. This goes against anything that you'll read and what you'll be told by your doctor. And they're right - you should exercise but when you decide to make a significant life change I don't think you can successfully sustain trying to do everything at once.

The approach to doing things step-by-step over time has helped me battle the lows that I've gone through. Each time I reached a new goal I would level up. If something got too easy I would level up. Once I was accustomed to eating differently and my body had gone through the pain and suffering that yours will go through I started walking to work. My walk to work was just over 5km down hill and 5km up hill on the way home. At first I struggled. I did it for the first week, a little less the second week and then finally down to once in the third week. What I realised was that I was getting bored. The walk would take me just under an hour, so I started trying to beat my time. I'd experiment with different times and different paces. It got to the point where I could walk all the way to work and not get a red light. I worked out the most efficient way to get there. That kept me entertained. I then started listening to podcasts and books. Once I was able to entertain myself and break down the monotony of walking the same way to work every day I really enjoyed it. The absolute best feeling I got was walking over the Sydney Harbour Bridge (I had to cross it to get to work) and feeling an intense rush of endorphins, I wasn't exerting myself too much but I'd never ever felt anything like it. It lasted for hours, I felt powerless in my attempt to stop smiling.

When I started I made a commitment to myself - My goal is to reach 140kg. I didn't set a time by which to do it. I put the goal posts in front of me and worked towards it. It took me 1 month to get there. When I got there I was elated, even when I weighed myself and saw that I had put on the 2kg that I had lost in 2 weeks. I pushed forward - and this is partly why using weight as a measurement for success is a bad idea, alas. The continual progress and change that I saw sparked even more drive.

Setbacks

I've had setbacks along the way. In fact, I'm still suffering from one. And so will you. Changing yourself isn't easy you're going to hit lows but those lows are negligible when put into perspective. I would even say that you need those lows to prove to yourself that you are a better person. These lows fuel you to push forward and smash through your goals.

The diet that I started on was keto. A friend of mine had started doing it and I watched him shred fat. So much so that nearly every day I saw him he'd look thinner. After 6 weeks of adapting to the keto diet and seeing weight drop off I contracted tonsillitis. I took some medication that I had a very bad reaction to. For the next month it felt like I had food poisoning every single day. The doctor prescribed me different medication that didn't seem to make any difference. I felt weak and didn't want to leave the house. Eventually I got through it and started to readjust my eating habits.

In September I travelled to Thailand with my girlfriend and completely over indulged, came back and continued to over indulge. After realising what had happened I immediately started to re-train myself.

Coming into 2013 (after a mammoth Christmas) I was weighing in at 130kg and stayed there for the better part of the year.

Towards the end of August I got very serious and started weight training at the gym. If you ask Anthony or Fred they'll tell you that they finally whittled me down into submission. From August to November my body changed dramatically. I was pushing myself very hard. I suffered a bad case of the flu that set me back a few weeks and sustained a neck and shoulder injury. The doctors and physio still can't diagnose 100% what I've done but it's suspected that I tore a ligament and strained some muscles. I haven't been able to lift weights since November. I was in so much pain I couldn't sleep. I went to the doctor who prescribed me some rest and ibuprofen. Four weeks rest and I felt slightly better. I regained movement and the pain was significantly less. I decided to drive up the road (part of 2013 was my goal to finally learn how to drive a manual car) and came back in excruciating pain. I couldn't move my neck, I couldn't sit still, and I could hardly lift my head to look forward. Back to the doctors where I was prescribed more ibuprofen, codeine, rest and physio. I'm still suffering from that injury now. My thumb still doesn't have 100% feeling in it. But I've powered on. Instead of lifting weights at the gym I've been focusing on my cardio - and I've seen huge improvements. I can quite easily run 5km now.

My lows, especially over the last few months have in a way been my strengths. At the end of November I could start to see myself tone and received a lot of positive attention from friends and family. Most of that tone is gone now due to the large amounts of running I'm doing but I am itching to get back into starting weight training again.

The setbacks are difficult to get through but they're going to happen at some point. You need to prove to yourself that they wont stand in the way of you getting to where you want to. You need to become mentally strong.

Tips

Start with trying to change just one thing first. I would recommend your diet. Changing your diet is going to yield positive results that you will see quicker than anything else, at least that was my experience.

Track everything. If it makes you feel better to use weight as a measurement then fine, but really you should take body measurements regularly. Get some body fat callipers and use them - this is by far the best measurement. Put all of your measurements into a spreadsheet. There are lots of online tools that will do this for you if you prefer. I have been using the Jawbone Up for a number of months to track my sleep and physical activity.

Learn. If you can't be bothered reading try and find videos online but you should educate yourself with becoming healthier. The biggest motivator and eye opener for me was reading Engineering the Alpha by John Romaniello and Adam Bornstein. This book has also given the biggest results. I haven't completed all of the phases but the changes are amazing.

Invest in decent workout gear. I think that shoes are really important. I went to Athletes Foot where they fitted me with the right shoe for my feet.

Set yourself small goals. You'll get there sooner and it will help you stay focused.

Find a good playlist to listen to when you workout. For me, I use spotify at the gym and have subscribed to a number of weight lifting playlists. When doing cardio I also listen to podcasts.

A mate of mine said to me once:

"The gym doesn't get easier you get stronger"

You need to find inspiration and motivation from others. Lifehacker, Lifehack, GetMotivated, Mens Health are some of the sources I use every day.

Find people that will notice the changes and help you on your journey.

Don't keep doing the same thing. Not only will your body adapt but also you'll get bored.

Don't compare yourself to others. Your journey is different to the person beside you. Help them, as you'd like to be helped.

The highs

I used to be so embarrassed with the way that I looked I would wear a jumper in summer (That's an Australian summer). I couldn't handle wearing just jeans and a t-shirt, I had to cover up.

I used to only be able to buy clothes online from a specialised men’s big and tall shop.

I used to sweat all the time. Yes Australia is hot but walking through an air-conditioned shopping centre would cause me to sweat.

I used to be petrified of sitting in plastic chairs or chairs that had arms. I was renowned for breaking chairs - and not the drunk throwing against the wall break, the you're too heavy to be in that chair. In fact, I recall going to a photography meet up years ago. There was a group of 15 strangers, everybody met at a local cafe and sat down to chat. The chairs were low to the ground cheap flimsy metal with arms on the side. I stood up the whole time looking awkward and embarrassed.

I used to be that guy on the plane that couldn't do up his seatbelt and would need to ask the person beside me if it was okay to lift the armrest. I'd fake being clipped in when the airhostess came around because I was too embarrassed to ask for the seatbelt extender. The first thing I would say to the person beside when they saw me was "I'm sorry that you had to sit next to the fat guy on the plane".

I used to get ridiculed in the workplace. To the random guy who's name I never knew that laughed at me with a smug look on his face and said "Good to see you taking the stairs ha-ha": Thanks - I changed myself.

I used to never take my shirt off at the beach, would avoid swimming pools and all other water sports. In fact, I remember a time with some friends when I tried water skiing and the boat wasn't powerful enough to pull me out of the water.

I used to be 145 kilograms.

Thanks

Vicky - You're the one that has carried me through all of this. You persevere with everything I do; you tell me that I can do it when I have doubt. You inspire and motivate me. I love you.

Anth and Freddy - You guys got me to the gym and it's changed me. You have nobody but yourselves to blame for all the youtube videos I send you. Oh, and I'm sorry for the exploding grenade shake in your kitchen Anth. Are you guys even lifting anymore?

Pete and Bob - You both pushed me right from the start to get up and make a change. I really appreciate it.

Friends and Family - Your positive comments and support have helped to push me to continue to change.

You - For taking the time to read this.

Jared

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