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Monday Inspiration: 5 tips for a weight loss transformation


Posted by Cags R under General on 7 January 2013 at 12:00 AM

You may not recognise top Tribesports user Don J if you saw him back in 2009, check out his amazing story of self-motivation, determination and transformation.

Don Johnson fat to fit transformation

After retiring from the US Air Force in 2005, I was already putting on the pounds.  By 2009, I was approaching 260 lbs, depressed, and just generally run down.  I made several half-hearted attempts to "get fit" and fell into the cycle of excuses blaming time, energy, family, etc., for my lack of progress.  As my medical issues mounted, I was taking more and more medications with little relief.  Soon, I had the big pill box to organize all the drugs I had to take at various times each day of the week.  At some point, I hit rock-bottom.  I was feeling miserable, had a terrible self image and was finally fed up with the situation.  It was as if my motivation was "rebooted" at this point. I was finally determined to turn it all around and started taking positive steps to achieve a healthier me.  These are the top 5 changes I made to achieve my weight loss and fitness goals:

  1. Quit Making Excuses

    I think my number one problem was the excuse cycle.  It was always so easy to blame every- and any-thing for my situation.  I finally had to take an honest look at myself and my early efforts and discovered I wasn't really trying.  I went through the process of documenting my challenges in writing then devising a "plan" to overcome each challenge.  For instance, eating out was a big hurdle.  Not only was time a factor, but there was a social aspect to it as well with all my co-workers heading out for a quick lunch every day.  The "fix" was to re-prioritize... my health had to take priority over time and the social setting.  This meant I had to make time to prepare my meals, know what I was putting into my body.  I also let my peers know openly about my desire to turn things around and surprisingly, they were all quite supportive.  

    This approach eliminated one (or two) of my excuses for not eating better).  I attacked other hurdles in a similar manner (exercise, sleep, alcohol, etc.)

  2. Eating as a Way of Life

    I realized quickly that I didn't need a diet (which was by most peoples' definition a temporary change in eating habits.)  Rather, I needed to incorporate what and how I ate into a permanent way of life. I started recording what I was eating and quickly realized I was simply eating too much... anywhere from 3000 to 6000 (sometimes more) calories per day.  As a sedentary man, it became clear that this was leading to disaster.  I had a couple mentors at work who turned me on to vegan and vegetarian approaches to nutrition.  While I didn't fully commit to a vegan lifestyle, I did realize the benefit of reducing animal protein, saturated fat, and processed foods in my diet while increasing the amount of whole and raw foods.  I also increased the frequency of my meals, keeping them smaller and found I wouldn't gorge myself during dinner like I used to.  

    I've recently read a couple of books which have served to reinforce my current dietary lifestyle:  "Eat & Run" by Scott Jurek and "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell. Bottom line is this: Eating is the single most important thing you do for your body and as such, it deserves priority in both time and effort to maximize benefit.

  3. Realize that Exercise is Fun

    As a teen, I was super fit.  I didn't have the greatest diet, but I loved soccer, running, wrestling, bodybuilding... I was always on the move, competing in one thing or another.  I joined the US Air Force at the age of 18 and by the time it turned 21, I was fairly sedentary.  I discovered the joy of beer and soon, beer became one of my best friends.  My evening workout sessions were replaced with lots of socializing and drinking.  Every year, the Air Force required each member to weigh in and pass a physical test.  The only time I'd ever really work out was the month before the weigh in and test.  It only got worse after I retired since I no longer had a mandatory weigh in!  

    In October of 2010, I reacquainted myself with the gym.  With my nutrition on the right path, I had more energy to sustain a regular workout program.  I committed to going to the gym every other day for 60 days.  I was always told that if I could maintain that for the first 60 days, it would become a habit.  Thankfully for me, that was the case.  For cardio, I transitioned from bike to elliptical to treadmill to stairmaster.  It wasn't long before I was back to running outdoors.  
    Use running events to get fit!
    I felt so young again and rediscovered the joy I had as a teen when I was training for the next big race.  I also picked up an addiction to mountain biking.  The key for me was to find those things I once enjoyed and get back to them.

  4. Support

    For me, my support system was a key part of my success. I knew that this would be a tough journey on my own and that I needed to swallow my pride and ask for some help.  I talked openly to friends and family and asked them to help keep me in check.  I made my goals clear and surprisingly most people were willing give me encouragement and support along the way.  I found that my efforts began to inspire others at work and at home!  Over time, (and quite accidentally) I built a network of support that began to impact more than just myself. For instance, it was uncommon to see healthy options at an office pot luck, but soon that was the norm.  Sure, there was the standard fare, but some people actually made an effort to ensure healthy options were there for those who needed it.  As people were expose to more dietary options, they began to realize that eating healthy didn't mean you had to sacrifice.  

    Of course there were the naysayers who tended to make things difficult.  I simply migrated away from the negativity kept greater bonds with those who were more supportive. In the end, it was the right approach for me. Finally, I discovered the Tribesports family in early 2012.  If you told me 2 years ago that an online community could be a powerhouse support group for everything related to healthy living, I'd say you were delusional.  I've met so many inspirational people and have engaged in several team challenges that served to push me harder that I was sometimes willing to push myself. The Tribesports community is in my opinion one of the greatest sources of support out there. There is literally something for everyone.

  5. Maintenance

    In my case, the initial phase of my weight loss was rather drastic. I cut calories deep while increasing physical activity and found that the initial caloric deficit was a bit too much.  In the first 30 days, I lost 30 lbs, but I was starting to feel a bit run down.  I increased my caloric intake by a a few hundred calories and began to feel much better.  By the 60-day mark, I was fast approaching 60 lbs of weight lost.  Over the next two months, I lost an additional 15 lbs for a grand total of 75 lbs lost.  Since then I've managed to maintain a fairly consistent weight only fluctuating plus or minus 3 or 4 lbs.  
    Don J running Rock N Roll Marathon
    A big part of maintaining my weight was to fight the "entitlement" urge.  For instance, I have friends who will go for a vigorous run then come back with a story of how they "deserved" that big bowl of ice cream for the effort.  This sort of entitlement was one of the big hurdles I contended with in the past that helped to derail my goals.  I may have a little ice cream or other snack from time to time, but I always keep it to a minimum. Moderation is the key.  I still love beer but I love living this healthy lifestyle even more which motivates me to keep it in check. I'm now at a point where I don't feel that I'm "missing out" on the junk food or quantities that I was consuming. I'm enjoying my workouts and keep a big variety of activities going so I don't lose interest.  I visit my Tribesports family almost daily and continue to be inspired by the community as a whole.  

Together, these things have contributed positively to maintaining a healthy lifestyle with no regrets.