Two days before my best friend's wedding, I looked at myself in the mirror as tears rolled down my face. I was in a tuxedo that was two sizes too small, but it was the biggest one the store had. Moments earlier, I had weighed myself and learned that I was the heaviest I had ever been at 370 pounds. What made me so sad and angry was the fact that I had been through this all before.
Three years before, I had been the best man at my brother's wedding. I couldn’t quite fit into that tuxedo, either, and was horrified when I saw the wedding pictures. After that experience, I was determined to lose weight.
I went on a crazy diet, eating only 1,200 calories a day, and exercising four hours a day. I lost 132 pounds in six months, but unfortunately I never learned what it meant to live a healthy lifestyle. Over the next year, I gained back that weight plus 38 pounds.
And there I was, once again in the exact same situation.
Two days after my best friend's wedding, I decided I didn't just want to lose weight, I wanted to change my life. And so I began my transformational journey. That first day I ran one mile, and almost had a heart attack. But I was determined, so the next day I tried a run/walk combo for 45 minutes. I did that for six days a week, until eventually I was running the whole time.
I started to get at least seven hours of sleep a night; this helped with stress, and gave my body time to recover. I stopped drinking soda, and gave up fast-food and sweets. I exercised portion control for my meals and eventually it didn’t take as much to get full. Later, I quit eating meat entirely. I focused on living a healthy lifestyle, not just making changes.
I also quit a job that I hated so that I could fulfill my dream of writing full-time. Our family moved from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to our dream destination of Maui, Hawaii.
During this year of life-changing transformation, I lost 170 pounds, and learned seven lessons that changed my life and can change yours, too. Here they are:
1. I have more energy for life.
I’m almost half the person I was, literally. As a result, simple things like walking and breathing don't require so much energy. I don’t get winded and I don’t snore at night. Time is one resource we’ll never get back so every moment has to mean something. There are many things you can do to get more energy, but living a healthy lifestyle is the best way.
2. I have more confidence.
I had closet full of clothes that I couldn’t fit into. Everyday I would try on outfits and nothing fit, which was very frustrating. The clothes I did wear were tight and showed my extra body mass. I had no confidence, and I never felt comfortable in public situations.
Losing the weight gave me the confidence to go out in public. (I'm now even OK to take my shirt off at the beaches here in Maui.) This newfound confidence has spilled into every other area of my life and helped me dream bigger.
3. I have healthy habits.
Instead of dieting, I cut out soda and sweets and opted for fruit when I wanted something sugary. (have a wicked sweet tooth but this did the trick.) For my meals, I used portion control; I used my palm as a guide to measure the portions. II was consistent with my fitness plan, exercising for 45 minutes, six days a week. Instead of losing weight, I created habits that would benefit my entire life. I didn’t focus on what I was giving up. I focused on focused on becoming a healthier version of myself, on my why.
4. I have more patience.
For months, I'd look at myself in the mirror and not see any results. It took about three months to see any noticeable difference. By then, I'd lost about 50 pounds. This taught me what patience was. I carried that lesson into other parts of my life. Sometimes things don’t work out how we planned; having patience is a useful coping skill.
5. I conquered my biggest fears.
For 12 years, I lived a life that best could be described as "existing." Then in April of 2012, my father died unexpectedly at 54 from heart disease. In his last conversation with me, he told me to live a life of no regrets because he would die with so many. It finally hit me how short life was.
I decided that even though I was afraid I would change my life anyway. It took time. I failed so many times, and wanted to give up more times than I could count.
During those times, I reached out for support from some close friends, who kept me going. It was a hard-fought journey but I can honestly say it was worth the struggle.
I feel great, I’m not afraid to chase big dreams, and I’m living a life without regrets. I’m not anyone special so I know you can do this, too. You can live out your dream. What steps will you take to make sure you live a life without regrets?
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