By Jon T. Stevens
For most of my life, or at least as long as I can remember, I have been overweight. No let me rephrase. I have been fat. Yes, fat. Not just a little overweight, not big boned, not plus sized or comfortably large. Not weight challenged or in need of loosing a few pounds. I was fat. Fat, fat, fat. Fat to the point of being teased and of having problems finding cloths that fit. Fat to the point of just being miserable. It was amazing how one aspect of my life could so completely take control of my life.
One day, while on vacation, I noticed a couple on the beach obviously enjoying each other and life in general. Yes, they were fit and trim just like the perfect picture we all know about. I don’t know for sure what it was about them that hit me the way it did. After all, it wasn’t like I had never seen happy, fit people before. Maybe it was the fact that being alone the way I was, I often found myself in a state of introspection especially when on a vacation. But that scene, of those two people, changed my life forever. Right then and there, I decided I was going to lose weight and keep it off, no matter what it took. I decided that I was strong enough to do this and I was going to prove it to the world – at least my world. I was going to be trim, fit and happy with the girl of my dreams.
Although still looking for the girl of my dreams, I am happy to report that I have lost the weight (47 pounds) that I intended to lose. I feel great, look great and have more energy then I ever have. I am indeed happy with an active social life and a very positive outlook in general. My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
How did I do it? I did everything. I exercised, I changed my diet and I completely changed the way I lived my life. I set goals, both short, intermediate as well as long term. Goals that were easily obtainable at first, then a little harder. I told everyone I knew what I was going to do so that there was no turning back. And it worked, I lost the weight.
I started out slowly at first with my first goal of doing 25 sit-ups 4 days a week for the first week. Notice I didn’t say every day or 50 sit-ups. I wanted a goal I could easily obtain. I also set a goal of eating two salads in that first week. And that was it. On my second week, I bumped up the sit-ups to 50 per day but, again, only for 4 days. I continued to eat 2 salads though I added a serving of fresh fruit. I also added two 20-minute walks for that second week. Not setting any world records, but again easily obtainable and with little suffering.
By the end of my second week, I had not faltered from any one of my goals and had actually exceeded one of them by going for a third walk as I actually enjoyed it. I decided to set some more goals. I decided to start going to the gym. Not right way mind you, but in two more weeks. Yes, this was a big one so I decided that I needed to work up to it. In the mean time, I did more sit-ups, now up to 5 days per week and 4 walks per week, although some days I actually went for two walks and by the third week I went for eight 30-minute walks in all. The whole time now working myself up to and picturing myself going to the gym – in two weeks. I knew going to the gym would be hard as I was out of shape, unlike all the people that go to the gym. Also, I just knew it would be a big step. But, I also knew I needed to do it and that I was strong enough to “just do it.”
The end of week three came. One more week till I started to the gym. Again, I had not faltered on any of my goals and again had actually exceeded several of them. I had also decided to start talking health supplements – I had a friend that suggested an internet web site, www.healthproductsusa.net, that sold a wide variety of health supplements.
I took a complete multi-vitamin as well as a complete mineral. Also, on this fourth week, I incorporated an actual diet. It wasn’t a “lose weight” diet, just a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables and a good balance. I figured I would falter if I tried to stick to it every day so I didn’t. Instead I just did the best I could for the time being. One thing I had noticed with the goals I set was that it became easier and easier to meet and even surpass them, the longer I went. I was now doing 100 sit-ups per day for 6 days per week although my goal was only for 5 days. I was also starting to feel a lot better.
Week 5, Monday morning, without much thought, I went to my local gym and signed up. Just like going to work, I just did it. I started on a regiment of three times per week for 45 minutes. I kept telling myself that I had to do it and it was as simple as that. That was the real turning point of my program as after just three weeks at the gym, the weight really started coming off and I felt really good. Yes, just eight weeks since I started, I felt I was over the hump and well on my way to a better life.
One year later, I go to the gym almost every day for over an hour. I eat right and have a very active lifestyle. I feel great. I feel that my secret to success was to set the goals and to set them in an obtainable way. Easy at first, then progressing. Although I figured that I would fail at some aspects, I didn’t want to set myself up for a lot of failure that would be discouraging. Notice that I did not keep track of the weight I lost especially on a day- to-day basis. I wanted successes as small as they may be. It was also important to tell people close to me what I was going to do. This helped push me probably more then anything else. I remember one of my friends telling me “yeah, right” when I told him of my plan. He did not think I could ever do it and I was going to prove him wrong. I now feel that there is very little that I can’t do if I set my mind to it.
Maybe starting out with sit-ups is not right for you, but I bet that goal setting in a similar manner will get you the results you want. Maybe not overnight, but step-by-step and goal-by-goal. Just do it and you will be absolutely amazed at how good you look and feel. Convince yourself and prove to your friends and loved ones that you are strong enough to lose the weight.
Jonathan T. Stevens is a regular contributor to editorial sections of local newspapers as well as Internet magazines. A 32 year old mathematician and substitute schoolteacher, he enjoys writing and is currently working on his first travel guide for boaters..