400 Pounds and Lost The Will To Live: How I Took My Life Back

Originally posted on Linkedin on May 1, 2015

I can’t imagine that many of you have any idea of what it is like to be so obese that you cannot fit into a booth at a restaurant. But you may know of someone who is.

I was that guy

Back in June 2014 I weighed over 400 pounds. I was miserable and I didn’t care about living anymore. I felt that I had no hope for ever losing all of this weight, nor did I know how I was going to do it.

There are a lot of misconceptions about people who are in the morbidly obese category. Technically I was in a category above morbidly obese, called “Super Obese“.

Any BMI ≥ 35 or 40 is severe obesity

A BMI of ≥ 35 or 40–44.9 or 49.9 is morbid obesity

A BMI of ≥ 45 or 50 is super obese*

I was not lazy, nor did I want to be in this condition. In fact, I have been fairly active most of my adult life. I have heard people say some very short-sighted things about people who are obese.

She just needs to get off her butt and just get some exercise.

I don’t understand why he keeps dieting and then gaining it all back.

Ugh. Look how fat that guy is.

That last statement was one I had heard walking back to my office. The person who said it appeared to be mentally ill, though I get the feeling that she was just saying what many people were thinking. No matter how much I try to shrug off those type of comments, I allowed them to affect me. Perhaps even infect me.

I already felt ashamed of myself and my body. This shame carried over to every aspect of my life and was holding me back. All of that fat was weighing me down not only physically, but smothering my ability to enjoy life.

I had tried most diets, exercise plans, weight loss groups, diet pills/patches… you name it. None of these tactics gave me any long-term results. I needed to do something different.

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten. ~ Tony Robbins

I think Henry Ford originally said something similar to the quote above. One thing I admire about guys like Henry and Tony is that they challenge what the rest of the world tells us to do. I well realized that I needed to do something different in order to get healthy, lose all the weight, and make it permanent. I was being told to consider weight loss surgery, take pills, do crazy exercise routines, and to go on a diet.

Ugh. Been there. Done that.

I wasn’t about to be another guy who lost a bunch of weight, yet again, only to gain it back and more (I’ve been that guy many times). So I decided to embark on a journey to get healthy on my own using the wealth of knowledge I have gathered through the years.

There’s a way to do it better – find it. ~ Thomas A. Edison

What I learned was that for me, diets and intense exercise routines did not work. I was not losing very much weight, feeling deprived, and usually giving up. So what was going to work for long term? Making small changes gradually over time so that my body and mind could adjust. I needed to reinvent myself.

I needed a “Mike-over

(See my other related posts, Small Changes Lead to Big Results, Reinventing Yourself: Meet a Brand New You, and Inspiring Others – Gives You Fuel)

What I realized about myself was that I had no idea how much food I was eating. I had a lot of what I call “food vampires”, little bits of snacking (or lots) throughout the day, that I was not paying attention to, but were sucking the life out of me.

I remember times that my wife was running late to pick me up, so I would run over to the sushi place around the corner from my job and have two sushi rolls for a “snack”. Back then I thought sushi isn’t that bad. It’s just fish and rice… low in fat… But high in calories! The average roll has about 350-500 calories. And I was eating two before having dinner. That’s an additional 700-1000 calories!(I know you smart folks can do addition)

I did not get up over 400 pounds in a short period of time. It was gradual since my early adulthood, building up each time I lost weight and gained back even more. I need to do the reverse of what I had done to get fat.

I needed to get “unfat

This is a concept that I came up with regarding the process I needed to go through both physically and mentally in order to carefully remove all of the toxic matter in my body and mind.

I decided to use an app which allowed me to track all of my food intake and exercise. In addition it allowed me to gradually reduce my intake over time so that the change was small and my body (and mind) to have time to adjust.

For my exercise I started with very moderate weight training and walking. I gradually increased over time as I lost weight to the point of daily walking.

Walking gives me several advantages as an exercise:

  1. It’s easy and can be done almost anywhere
  2. It’s FREE
  3. Lower intensity is better for fat burning
  4. It has replaced my stress eating urge
  5. It’s sustainable for the long-term

So, almost 11 months later, I have lost around 190 pounds and vastly improved both my physical and mental health. I feel better than I had in 20 years.

I walk every day at least an hour. I have a new found love for hiking. I could not wait for winter to be over (I live in the Northeastern United States) so I could get out and enjoy nature. I find that walking in nature brings me back to life.

I love my life now and can’t wait to get out and try new things!

I took my life back!

Me longboarding with my son the other night. It’s amazing what I am discovering I can do! I just jumped on and started riding!

 *From Wikipedia’s Classification of Obesity

Check out my other articles:

Small Changes Lead to Big Results

Reinventing Yourself: Meet a Brand New You

Inspiring Others – Gives You Fuel (featured in LinkedIn’s “What Inspires Me” section)

4 thoughts on “400 Pounds and Lost The Will To Live: How I Took My Life Back

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