They say your family is a link to your past and a bridge to your future. For me, my family was truly just that — a connection leading to a healthier me.
At 218 pounds, I was overweight. Although I knew the time had come to get serious about losing weight, it took the inspiration of a family member to motivate me to change.
One Christmas, I saw my uncle Dale...29 pounds lighter than the last time I saw him. He looked great, and I could tell he felt terrific. In addition, he had a positive outlook on life I hadn't always seen before. It was refreshing.
At that moment I wanted to feel just as good as he did, I wanted to lose the weight, and I was determined to prove to myself I could be just as successful. Actually seeing someone who already had a great start on their weight-loss plan inspired me. I finally realized no matter what, it could be done. The fact that I wasn't getting any younger made me want to try even harder. Dale's success instantly squashed all of the rumors and excuses I used as a crutch to starting a weight-loss plan.
In order to begin, I knew I had to set a reasonable goal for myself. I decided I wanted to lose 38 pounds, just enough to set my weight at 180 pounds. In addition, I wanted to be able to go to the beach over summer without having to wear a T-shirt to mask my insecurities.
Although my uncle's success was the initial trigger for my weight-loss goals, all of my accomplishments were made easier with the support of my wife. After I saw Dale, not only did I set out to change my life, but my wife decided to follow suit. Together, we began reading food labels and counting calories. We changed our bad habits and formed newer, healthier ones.
It wasn't about a temporary change for us, we knew in order to truly be happy and successful we needed to make a life-long adjustment. The last thing I wanted to do was diet for a short amount of time, not stick with it and gain the weight back. If I was going to commit myself to losing the weight, I wasn't going to take any shortcuts or do it halfway.
In the end, I really wanted all of my efforts to be worth it, and I wanted to be proud of myself for riding out everything and meeting my goal.
I began by giving up my favorite indulgence, fast-food cheeseburgers. By replacing the cheeseburgers with healthier items, I was able to improve my chances of succeeding. I filled myself with salads, fruits and vegetables. My wife and I are creatures of habit, and by tweaking our eating rituals in certain ways, the weight began coming off.
It's amazing how much healthier I felt by simply watching what I ate. By making better food choices every day...every meal...I began to thrive on the extra energy I had. I no longer ate until I was full; I just ate the necessary amount to satisfy my hunger.
Although I have always found it difficult and bothersome to workout, I knew this was the second piece to my weight-loss puzzle. Instead of feeling guilty for taking time out of my already-busy day to exercise, I embraced the time to myself and started out slow.
Initially I began walking about a 15-20 minute mile on the treadmill. Eventually I increased the speed, and currently I walk about 3 miles at a steady pace, burning around 400 calories.
Although working out has become part of my daily routine, I don't panic if I skip a day; I just make up for it the next time. I realize the importance of staying active, yet I don't allow myself to obsess over it. As long as I am staying on track with my plan, I don't have a problem with tweaking it every so often. Once I became used to working out and eating healthy, it no longer felt like a chore...it just became part of my life.
In about six months I reached my goal. Now that I feel good, it's easy for me to stay on track. I won't let myself fall back into my past habits of eating late and eating too much food, because I know I have my wife and family to support me. And after all, my family is the backbone that holds me together.