My 50 Pound Victory – How to kickstart your healthy lifestyle

Some time ago, well 4 years and 2 months to be more exact, I went to the doctor and was told I was obese.  That was a hard blow for me to stomach – I was 28 years old and what I felt to be an average American.  It only took me a few days before I let the “insult” of being told I was obese sink in to the point that I took action on it…

I told my self “I’m going to be healthier”.  There, I did it.  I’ll show that doctor – the next visit he won’t be able to insult me!  Ok.  It’s not that easy, and it wasn’t.  Just saying you will be healthier really doesn’t put anything in action towards weight loss or a healthy lifestyle.  Well sort of…  Putting your mind in the correct state is the first step, and continually telling your self you are going to work to be healthier will help you to start to believe that it is possible and thus a change will begin to happen.

Reaching your weight loss goal takes effort but feels so good when you reach it!
Thank you to LoseIt for the success message for reaching my overall weight loss goal of 50 pounds! It wasn’t quick, but in this journey I’ve done something more important – I’ve changed my lifestyle to a healthier way of living!

Now in hindsight, now having reached my weight-loss goal after four years, “being more healthy” wasn’t all that difficult.  Once you get your mind, heart, and spirit behind the task and you have the proper planning and knowledge built.  Now that sounds scary and hard, but you need to get your entire being behind the task for it to actually be achieved.  Just think if the front two tires on your car were spinning forward, but the back tires were spinning in reverse.  You aren’t going to get very far very quick now are you?

One element that I attribute to my success was a proper plan.  I sat down early and wrote everything out on paper (and later onto a computer spreadsheet to track).  I wrote out my plan, my goal, etc. and stuck to it.  As you make progress, your goals and plan will shift, and that’s good and expected.  But you need something on paper to follow and keep you on track.

I set two goals – a realistic goal that I wanted to hit (which I reached after two years) and a “dream goal” of loosing 50 pounds.  After that two year mark I just followed the new lifestyle that I had built and slowly but surely the weight continued to shed, and my overall health continued to get better.

Now, just over 4 years later, I hit a total weight loss of 50 pounds, I’m at the lowest weight I’ve been at in over 15 years, I am very lean and toned, and feel amazing.  My wife and I still continue to find new ways to incorporate healthy living and continue to improve ourselves more.  We just got a into juicing a bit as well as being more focused on a fresh veggie and whole grain diet.  My wife talks more about those topics on her blog. Nicole’s Blog

Healthy Living – Where to Start: Goal Setting

As I said above, the first step is to set your goals.  The first goal to set is your ultimate goal.  Make this something that can be measured.  Loose 35 pounds, have a waistline of 34″, etc.  Don’t be afraid of this goal – look at this as being a dream more than a goal.  You will get there, but often times this goal feels too large to reach.  One other key is at this point don’t build up an expectation as to when you will reach this.  If you set a timeline to get there, you may get discouraged if progress doesn’t go as planned – and it won’t (be it one way or another).  That’s why I called this a dream.  Dreams are more sweet to have come true when you don’t have expectations of it coming sooner than it does.  But write this goal on a piece of paper – it’ll keep you motivated to work towards this at all times.  Write it big with a big maker.  I hung mine on the wall for years – hang it somewhere you’ll see it daily like the bedroom by a mirror. It’ll have more of a psychological impact on you – you’re reminded daily of what you are working towards.

Next, set smaller goals that will get you to your main goal.  And this is where you need to be realistic and set some deadlines.  You don’t climb a mountain in one giant step – its step by step, milestone by milestone.  So what are those milestones?  And are they attainable?  Don’t worry about how long these small goals will take to reach the bigger goals yet – worry about what is realistic and attainable.  While you may get frustrated by not reaching the big picture as quickly as you’d like, you can’t look at the problem from that point of view.  The frustration will scare you away.  For that reason, you need to look at it from what is realistic and attainable and relish in the progress made as you go – it’ll make every step that much easier.  And once you have some confidence building you’ll be in a better state of mind and have proper knowledge on how to start to challenge your self and your goals.

For me my overall goal was based, and my smaller goal was to loose 2 pounds a month.  Yes, that’s it.  2 pounds a month.  Sounds too easy, right?  Well in some regard yes.  Yet there were months I couldn’t reach that.  But this is something attainable – only a .5 pounds a week.  Simple – try it for your self.  After a few months, if it’s too easy, up it a bit.  Challenge your self to blow your goals out of the water.  But at 2 pounds a month, that would equate to 18 pounds in 9 months – first major milestone I wanted to reach.  Not the full 50 which was my ultimate goal, but I’m not looking at the ultimate at this time.

So many people want to do 18 pounds in 2 months to attend a wedding, the beach, whatever.  Why am I doing 9 months?  Well one big reason is that dieting as most people think doesn’t work because you need to instead change your diet.  Wait, what was that?  We tend to think the word diet me as this 6 or 8 week thing we do where 20 pounds magically goes away (and then is all back 3 months later…).  But I, and the dictionary, see the word diet as being the whole sum of what you consume – not just today or tomorrow, bit in general overall.  I’ll admit, it took me a while to get this as well.  But prior to my wakeup call, my diet was about 35% fast food restaurants, 35% grilled red meats, 10% cheese and dairy, and 20% fruits and vegetables.  Now this might sound better or worse than you currently, but it’s not good for a healthy lifestyle.  Today, I’d say my diet is more like 45% fruits and vegetables, 25% whole grains and nuts, 15% poultry and fish, 5% cheese and dairy, 5% red meats, and 5% at restaurants, rarely fast food.  I’m not saying my diet is perfect, but notice how drastically different it is?  Fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, fish, and poultry are the better food options. But I won’t get into the details of the food breakdown here – that’s a big topic for another time.  Bottom line – change your life, don’t change for a short period of time.  But that digresses from the point so I’ll try to get back on track here.

As an example of goal setting, my goal was based on weight loss and it was measured monthly.  Now weight is weird and seems that it can fluctuate so easily.  For that reason I suggest NOT weighing in daily – or even weekly.  It’s like watching the stock market – day to day movement is not a good indicator of the overall progress.  Instead I had a monthly weigh-in day on the 1st of every month.  And you need to stick to this regardless of what is going on in life.  I suggest checking your weight as soon as you wake up.  Go to the bathroom before hand, and wear the same attire each week – or for me it was a lack of attire…  The point is that you want to be as consistent as possible for every single weigh-in day to ensure accurate results.  Write these numbers down on a spreadsheet – I made an Excel document.  Put your monthly number in, and study and analyze it.  If you were short of your goal, why is that?  What did you do, or didn’t do this month to make goal?  If you made goal, what worked and how can you repeat that next month?

Next Step – Devise Your Healthy Living Plan

Ok, so a goal my goal was set.  But now what?  What does it take to actually get to that goal?  It’s time to form a plan that, like the goal, is attainable and well laid out.  An attainable plan will be your day to day guide on how to reach your smaller goals.  What does a plan look like you ask?  Well it should outline to two major pieces to weight loss (in the case of my goals at least) – diet and exercise.

A Healthy Diet

As I pointed out above, your diet equates what you consume in general, not on a short term.  What I found is that I had a bad habit of eating WAY TOO MUCH!  The amount of food that I, and most humans, is actually quite mind boggling.  As you’ll soon learn, the human body doesn’t require as much as we tend to consume, particularly if you are eating a nutrient rich and well balanced diet.

Now we eat because we feel hungry, right?  Well we feel hungry because we stretched our stomachs bigger by overeating and thus we need to put more into it to not feel hungry.  And the cycle continues.  It’s a bad cycle…  Thankfully the stomach can shrink on its own – just feed it less for a week or so.  Then you’ll be accustomed to the smaller portions, and thus not be as hungry.  Seriously I used to eat two sandwiches and half a bag of chips – for lunch.  Plus a few handfuls of candy.  Why on earth do I need that much food for lunch?  Or any meal for that matter?  No wonder I had a small dose of depression and my doctor told me I was obese – I was feeding myself crap!  Now I have a thinly stacked turkey sandwich on whole wheat with spinach and/or cucumber slices (notice there isn’t any butter or mayo or cheese???  That’s intentional…) and a bag of grapes and carrots.  You might be saying yuck, but clear your diet of refined sugars, fats, oils, and candy for a few weeks and you’ll surprisingly find that fresh fruits and veggies actually have an amazing flavor.  And I know you won’t believe me on this till you try it, but you’ll soon start to crave fresh fruits and vegetables!  (Note – pops and salad dressings gotta go!  I don’t care if they are light/diet, they are poisons to your body in many ways and often cut these two out and you’ll quickly see some weight loss).

So how do you gauge how much to eat?  There are two easy tricks to this.  The first is to read the food packaging.  Not the games on the back of the box, or even the recipes.  Instead read the serving size.  And eat just that much.  Reading the nutritional information and ingredients is a good practice as well but might not seem too helpful at first…  The second trick is to incorporate a calorie counter into your daily habits.  I’ll admit this takes a bit if effort to get used to using at first but trust me, it’s an eye opener and will really help you stay on track like you wouldn’t believe.  A calorie counter now becomes your daily partner – praising you for your diligence or cursing at you for slipping.  This can be done on paper, but in this era of technology I’d suggest using a free service like myFitnessPal or LoseIt.  Both of these can be accessed via the internet and smartphone / tablet apps and make this process sooo much easier.  Set it up and enter in your goals from above.  It’ll then tell you how many calories you can consume each day – prepare to be shocked at how far over you are currently.  They do have a food database with calorie counts, or you can read those nutrition labels mentioned above.  Stick with this for a few weeks and it’ll become a habit.  I can’t stress enough how important this step is for your journey.  I started without this, and added it after about 1 1/2 years and wondered how I got where I did without it?!?!

I know I’ve talked a lot about food and I could go on for a lot longer.  But from the start of your journey, let’s start simple.  Make a conscious effort to eat smarter.  I believe we all know what we should be eating and what we shouldn’t.  Start there – eat what you should.  Just like setting goals in baby steps, work on migrating your diet in baby steps.  Chicken or steak?  Chicken.  Salad or french fries?  Salad (little to no dressing – let the flavors of the veggies shine!).  Fast food or make a sandwich at home?  Sandwich always wins and helps the pocket book.  Again, this change is a process.  Trying to change cold turkey isn’t advised by me – a gradual change will ensure that you will be committed long term and that you will succeed in this change.  If you take only one thing from my ramblings here, take this – it’s about changing your lifestyle long term to a healthy lifestyle, it’s not about a quick win “diet”.  It’s not to say you won’t have “cheat days” from time to time, but keep those to no more than two a week.  No one is perfect.  But I do have to say it gets interesting – the healthier you eat and get, the rougher some of your favorite foods sit with your body and those cheat days turn into punishment days.  Ha!

I haven’t lost you yet, have I?  Start with small changes that will change your lifestyle.  Keep layering these small changes on top of each other over time to build a long term healthy lifestyle that will stay with you – forever.


There is one more component to this change though – a component that most hate more than me reaching to take that slice of pizza out of your hand… This thing called exercise.

So what is exercise?  It’s moving your body and getting the blood flowing through your system.  Walk, bowl, shoot hoops, dance, swimming, canoeing, cleaning, running, weight lifting, yard work – all of these things can actually constitute exercise.  It doesn’t sound that hard, right?

Now for weight-loss to kick in, you need to get your heart rate up, and keep it up.  So that means you need to be active in your exercising for a sustained amount of time.  So get up and go gung-ho and be as active as you possibly can, right?  Well no – if you haven’t caught the running theme in this message yet, I’ll say it again.  Take it one step at a time.  Exercise a bit today, and next week try to push it a bit more, etc.  Adjust as you need to keep working towards your goals set.  And make exercise a part of your daily routine.  Get your kids and loved ones into it with you.  They could use it too anyway.

So I said you have to get your heart rate up and keep it there.  Yes, that’s technically true and will show you the best results.  HOWEVER, what if you get it excited but then have to stop exercising after only 5 minutes?  Will this hinder your progress?  No, you just won’t see as large of gains.  But that’s no the end of the world really, as long as you are exercising smartly.

Smartly?  Is that a medical term?  What does that mean?  Well lets think this through, with a bit of understanding on the human anatomy.  There is something called metabolism that operates in your body.  While I’m not an expert in metabolism, I do understand it from the standpoint of an analogy.  Think of metabolism as a motor.  As long as the motor has an energy source and it’s turning, it produces power (weight loss via calorie burning).  But if the motor stops operating, the calorie burning stops and thus weight loss turns into weight gain.  Well that sounds simple, right?  Just keep the motor turning (metabolism burning) and the weight will just peel right off.

Ok, so lets translate this into real life actions and what this means.  Metabolism gets activated by several things:

  • Exercise
    • At any level really
    • 10 minute walks
    • Full gym workouts
  • Eating
    • Eat small snacks like pretzels through the day, keeping your overall calorie count in mind)
  • Stay cold
    • Honestly a cold shower and/or staying cold will keep your metabolism active if you want to live that way

So now armed with some knowledge, lets think about how this exercising smartly works?  I prefer to exercise in the morning for a few reasons.  It’s not that hard to wake up 15 minutes earlier than you do currently, you have the most energy at this time, you can shower afterwards and be fresh and clean for the whole day, and better yet, you give that metabolism motor a full tank of gas in the morning to keep running all day long.  It’s just that simple.  Just think, by exercising in the morning, your metabolism is running while you are sitting behind your desk all day long.  So in essence, you can loose weight while sitting at work!

And exercise can come from places you’d never think.  Go ahead an laugh at me, but I’ve invented an exercise call the brushing-squats.  It’s simple really – while you are brushing you teeth, do some body-weight squats in the bathroom.  Or another option, is dare I interrupt those great TV shows you watch and say that you can do a few sets of sit-ups while watching your show?  Or walk in place, some weight lifting, etc.  And all of this in the comfort of your home!  Or dance a few songs a week in your living room with your significant other – active dances like polka or swing – and it’ll help reach your goals and maintain your intimacy with your love one.  While some of these seem to be low level exercises – and they are – layer multiple acts like this into one day and you now have on going exercise that will lead to huge gains in the long run!

I’ll stop here on exercise since I think we all already know how to exercise in the traditional sense, so I won’t waste your time on that.  But I do encourage you to think out side of the box and work exercise into your daily life where you might not think of typically.  And I should say that yoga can be an easy way to get your heart rate up and has so many other health and mental benefits.  I do suggest yoga…

So get moving more than you do today.  And then as your plan continues, try to out-do that level of movement again.  Get your heart beating, and daily.  Don’t overdue it, just make a change that is greater than what you are doing currently.

A Support System

You should equip yourself with a support system as well as you go through your personal journey.  If you are trying to do this on your own, and those around you do not support you, your progress will be hindered with mixed and negative messages.  If you can bring others onboard to achieve their own healthy living journey at the same time – even better.   My wife and I were both pursuing our own goals at the same time and it really made it easier than when I was pursuing this alone.  As you cook dinners, you are making similar meals.  You will share  your ups and downs with each other.  You’ll have an exercise partner.  It really makes a difference.

Even if it’s just emotional support it will make a world of difference.  Surround yourself with like minded people to set yourself up for success.

If you have children, they are perfect people to incorporate into your support system.  Not because they adore you and will do whatever you ask, but because you will be laying the foundation of a healthy lifestyle for them and their future.  This is simply setting them up for success from the beginning!


In summary, starting a healthy lifestyle change begins in your mind, body and soul.  Get your whole entity involved.  But take it one step in a time, stepping in tune with a well devised goal and plan.  Set daily reminders for you to keep your goals on the forefront of your mind and work towards a life change – not a quick win.  And keep in mind, it’s not about winning all time time; it’s about winning most of the time.

Tooting My Own Horn – My Weight-loss Success Story

I’m not going to lie – the real reason I started writing this post was to brag that I have reached my ultimate goal of loosing 50 pounds!  It just so happens that I couldn’t write that without offering up a dose of motivation to the next person that is scratching their head on how to get to the same place…

As pointed out through this post, this was a long term journey that took some time for me to reach.

Keep track of your weight-loss on a chart
This chart from LoseIt shows my progress in weight loss. There are some ups, but overall more downs. I know what I was doing wrong on the ups, and was able to correct to later continue the downward progress.

And a quick glimpse of my progress – here are the before and after photos of me on my personal weight loss journey.  I still shake my head a bit when I look at the before picture.  In looking at it now, I do see the problem.  But at that time, I thought I was a normal American – just the right size.  In hindsight, I was normal, which really means overweight and unhealthy….  I hope my story helps to inspire your personal journey!

Overweight, I knew I needed to find a healthier lifestyle...
January 2009, weighing in around 220 pounds and “obese” according to my doctor, I entered into finding a healthier lifestyle.

Reach your overall healthy living goal in a way that will change your way of life for good!
This picture was taken shortly before I reached my overall weight loss goal of 50 pounds. Having now reached my goal, I am a lean 170 pounds that eats healthy and incorporates exercise and healthy foods into my daily life!


Note: I’m not a doctor or health expert.  I’m merely a man who did research and put effort forth to change my life to what I deem to be a healthier lifestyle than I was living before.  I am offering this information to you as a motivator only and not as medical advise.  I advise you to take this advice with a grain of salt (figuratively, not literally) and consult your medical professional where needed.