My name is Andrew, and this blog will describe my year-long journey from being unhealthy, overweight, and out-of-shape to becoming healthy, fit, and strong! My goal is to share what I have learned along the way in order to encourage others in their journeys to a sustainable lifestyle of health and fitness.
Growing up in eastern Pennsylvania, I lived a fairly active lifestyle. At an early age, I was outdoors playing with friends and running nonstop all day; and as I got older, I played a lot of sports – thin without even trying (although not all that healthy, mind you). Then came college – life got busier, but so did my activity. The problem was, even though I was still playing sports and lifting weights, I started eating even larger quantity meals, including junk food. After graduating college, I started working a desk job and got married shortly after. I still tried to work out from time-to-time; but I began to work longer hours and suddenly, I had more things to think about: kids, graduate school, advancing my career, etc.
For the next 8 years, I went through a constant roller coaster ride of sort of caring about my health and well being to not caring at all. My appetite for those larger portion meals wasn’t going away; and as my level of physical activity dwindled, my weight increased… not rapidly or in a way that would cause alarm but slowly and surely, my weight was increasing and so was my waist size. “I’m just getting older,” I thought. “Nobody is able to maintain high school / college weight. It just isn’t realistic… at least for a regular guy. I can’t work out for hours a day!”
To sum it up, one year ago, I was 30 years old, 6′ 1”, and north of 250 pounds – not obese necessarily, but definitely not in shape and certainly not eating healthy. There were many reasons that I felt I could justify my condition: I was getting older, I was busy with my job, I had other leadership responsibilities, and I couldn’t afford to go to a gym. However, I began to have growing concerns, and I even began experiencing pain in my knees when I would stand or sit down or even go down steps. Would I need replacement knee surgery? Would I be able to play with my kids at the park as they (and I) got older? Would I ever care about the way that I ate? If I did, would I be able to afford it?
It was just a short while later that I had a life-altering experience. One of my coworkers, Mark had begun leading lunchtime workouts three times a week using kettlebells, box jumps, body weight exercises, and other types of physical activity. I scoffed at his invitation to join them – I was still in decent shape, or so I thought. They always seemed so enthused after finishing a workout, but I ignored their enthusiasm (well, I tried to anyway). I kept telling myself that I could get into really good shape if I wanted to, and I didn’t need advice or opinions from anyone else on how to do that. I had played sports before, I had pumped iron, I knew what I was doing. When I looked in the mirror, though, I wasn’t happy with the way I looked. My face was fuller than I wanted it to be, and I tried to hide the double chin by growing facial hair. I pretended my visible stomach and “love handles” weren’t that big – this was the way that that men who had families and worked desk jobs turned out, right?
One day, I decided to join their workout. I knew going in that the intensity level would be high, but I was ready. Boy, was I wrong. About 6 minutes into the workout, I was exhausted and breathing heavily almost to the point of hyperventilating, and I was white as a ghost. Fortunately, Mark had the experience to have me stop. What a wake-up call! As I walked back to my desk, I faced a decision: would I do anything about what had just happened, or would I ignore it and pretend that it never happened? As the reality of what I had become (a lazy couch potato) slowly sank in, I decided right then and there that I was going to commit to completely changing my workout habits and more importantly, the way that I ate and lived my life. I committed to doing whatever it would take to get into the shape and health that I knew that I needed to be.
Fast forward 11 months. I have lost more than 50 pounds and about 4-5 inches off my waist. My BMI and body fat percentages have significantly decreased, and the joint pain (especially in the knees) is gone. At a trim, healthy, and strong 200 pounds, I am not quite down to my target weight, but I am more than well on my way. In subsequent blog posts, I will unravel the story of how I achieved my goals and how you can too! I didn’t join a gym, I didn’t do CrossFit, I didn’t start eating vegan, I didn’t take any magic weight loss pills – what I did do was make a lifestyle change that I can sustain for the remainder of my life. Through self-evaluation, planning, monitoring, setting goals, and hard work, I achieved what I set out to accomplish. I am hopeful that by sharing my year-long journey, others will be helped and encouraged in their goals of fitness and health. While the methods I outline will not help you achieve overnight success; you will succeed in the long run if you put in the effort, and you will change your life for the better!