I've enjoyed being able to sit down be able to flesh out the plans for what I want to accomplish in 2015. I've already indicated most of my goals: write more posts on this website, growing my freelancing business and learn some more programming, and do it well. Being able to have concrete steps for each of these things is key for accomplishing them, so I wrote those down too. Even though it might be the initial enthusiasm talking, I feel like I'm going to crush all of these goals.
These goals I've written so far seem to be more focused on helping my brain and my wallet, but there's something even more important that I want to continue focusing on this year and beyond: my health.
Goal #4 - Keep losing weight and getting healthier
I haven't told many people about my struggles and my current string of success, so I decided to share my journey for the past few years. I'm really proud of what I've accomplished so far, but even more proud of the face that I didn't let any setbacks ruin my progress for good. I think I have some good advice to share, so read on.
in 2011, I went to the doctor's office for the first time in years, and I was embarrassed when I got on the scale. My weight was 298.8 pounds (that's over 135 kilograms to all my non-American friends), with a BMI of around 36. That's classified as "severely obese", prone to a lot of health issues down the road. I still remember seeing that number on the scale so vividly. I was only 30 years old and was getting surely going to pass the 300-pound mark in a few weeks at the current pace of inactivity and horrible eating habits I had at the time.
Around that same time, the company I was working for was right above a gym, and the company was paying for half of the gym membership. I was deathly afraid of joining, as I had never stepped foot in a gym in my life before, but I went with it. Since I had no idea what I was doing, I hired a personal trainer for a year. Kinda pricey, but worth it - in that year I dropped almost 40 pounds.
After the year was over, I thought "Now I know what to do, so I'll save that money to travel instead of continuing with the personal trainer". I did travel with the money I saved by not getting personal training services, but I made a huge mistake. Humans have a tendency to overestimate what they can do, and often we do something well once and immediately think "I got this" for the rest of their lives. I was no different. Without having a personal trainer holding me accountable, I started gradually going to the gym less, and my weight went back up, hovering between 270-280 pounds (122-127 kilograms).
Admittedly, this caused my self-esteem to plummet. I felt horrible for doing a lot of hard work like waking up at 5:30 AM to bust my ass in the gym before work, as well as spending money for the trainer and monthly fees. I felt lazy, undisciplined and that I was always going to be that weight for the rest of my life. I had no idea what I was going to do with myself or how to solve this problem. All I know is that I was more than overweight and needed to change that somehow.
One morning in late 2012, my girlfriend was showing me some of the yoga poses that she practiced regularly, and asked me try some of them. My immediate thought was "Yeah, right... I wouldn't be caught dead doing yoga". But I didn't want to kill her enthusiasm, so I tried some of those poses. I was so out of shape, even the simplest of poses made me feel like my bones were going to snap, and I thought this was her way of torturing me for doing something wrong. But then the weirdest thing happened: 10 minutes later, my body felt better than it had felt in a long, long time. I remember feeling great the entire day. I wondered if it was a fluke.
A few days later, I found a "Yoga for complete beginners" video on YouTube and tried it. I was able to confirm it was no fluke. My body felt amazing. I wanted to do more of this, but I wasn't really digging the whole "namaste" vibe of yoga. That's when I remembered that there's a former professional wrestler called Diamond Dallas Page, who made his own brand of yoga targeted to guys, dubbed DDP Yoga. I'm sure many of you have watched this video of Arthur Boorman. He was told he'd walk on canes his entire life, but with the help of DDP Yoga, he was able to prove everyone wrong and have an amazing transformation.
I didn't need a severe transformation, but I did wonder if I was able to get some sort of transformation. I got DDP Yoga for myself and started following it in January 2013. I was amazed at how effective his yoga was for my body. The random aches and pains that I would constantly have disappeared, and I was losing weight again. I was able to drop 20 pounds at one point, but my weight kept on going up and down like a yo-yo since I was not taking it too serious.
At the beginning of 2014, I was back up to around 270 pounds (122 kilograms). I decided I was going to make a more concerted effort to track my progress (or lack of progress). I started keeping a spreadsheet with how much I weighed weekly, as well as keep a food log to know how much I was eating. Believe me, I'm sure about 99% of you reading this underestimates how much you eat. When I began my food log, I was amazed that I sometimes ate over 3000 calories per day! No wonder I was almost 300 pounds.
I also started doing DDP Yoga on a daily basis, and got into the habit of doing the longer, more difficult routines at least once a week. The data collection and the daily yoga routine were the key for me. The weight started to come off consistently. I ended 2014 by weighing 239 pounds (108.5 kilograms) on December 31st. Dropping over 30 pounds in a year is not an insignificant accomplishment, in my eyes.
It took me a long time to get my weight down and keep it down. I want to keep at it, so I wanted to establish a more concrete goal to look forward to. My weight goal for 2015 is to drop at least 30 more pounds. It's a doable goal - dropping 2.5 pounds every month. As long as I continue collecting data, measuring my progress continuously and of course doing all the hard work of exercising and eating right, I should be able to hit this one without a hitch.
There's a couple of pointers that I worked for me and I shared in this long story, in case you didn't catch it:
- Don't trust yourself to keep on doing the right thing - If you're doing something well and it's working, don't stop! It's easy to get overconfident and stop doing what works because you think you can handle it by yourself, but there's nothing farther from the truth.
- Figure out the real problem (spoiler: it's not you!) - As I mentioned, I thought gaining my weight back meant I was a lazy, undisciplined bum. After digging deeper, it's not that I'm lazy, it was that I really disliked going to the gym. I'm now doing an average of 40 to 45 minutes of DDP Yoga every single day at home, and I'm really happy with that. If you're struggling with something, it's worth taking the time to dig deeper and find what your real problem is.
- Collect as much data as you can - I never bothered to log my weight or food consumption. As a result, I never realized how bad things were until it was too late. If you keep track of what you're doing and know where you're going, you can figure out if you're on track to reach your goal.
Tomorrow I'll wrap up my goals for the year with some other miscelaneous things I want to accomplish. I look forward to closing this and focusing on accomplishing them.