Hey, I’m Chris, a 25-year-old bar manager from St. Louis Missouri. I grew up in a suburb of St. Louis my entire life and have been living in the city for the last couple years.
I am about to move to Alaska for the summer to work at a brewery, but I’ll be back in St. Louis soon hopefully working in our amazing beer industry here.
I was fat pretty much my entire life and was oddly content with that fact up until fairly recently. People always told me I ‘held my weight well’ and that I ‘was just a stocky dude’ and I just lapped it up and agreed with them.
I played football from age seven until I graduated high school, that always kept my weight somewhat in check to where I was still a little active. After high school, I stopped playing sports altogether and had a very sedentary lifestyle with very little physical activity.
Obviously, my weight started going up immediately, I went from at 215lbs at 5’10 to topping out at 285 pounds at one point. Several times I lost around 30 pounds or so but would quickly gain it right back again.
This went on for a couple years through college until the beginning of 2014. Right around that time I moved out on my own and slowly started to realize how unhealthy I had been and slowly began to make better choices.
There was no big event or even a set date I can pinpoint where I decided that enough was enough and I was going to get healthy, it just happened bit by bit until I woke up and realized I was finally doing things that were working and more importantly sustainable.
What was your lifestyle like prior to your transformation?
Before 2014 everything, I did pretty much revolved around food and my television. Every day after class or work I would find some sort of fast food or pizza on the way home, sit down in front of the TV and watch movies or play video games until I would go to bed.
I would wake up in the morning and grab myself a big energy drink because I felt so sluggish and tired from too little sleep and too much nasty food. Throughout the day, I would snack on anything and everything that was around and drink soda after soda after soda.
I knew what I was doing was unhealthy and that I couldn’t just continue this for the rest of my life but I made justifications and promised I would start being more healthy tomorrow, or next week, or at the beginning of the new year but I never really did much about it. I was lazy and a way to content with how things were.
Where does your motivation come from?
My motivation is just wanting to be better. Since starting my weight loss something has clicked in my head to where I can finally see the correlation between what I was putting in my body to what I looked like and more importantly what I felt like on a day to day basis.
I wish I knew what made it click or how to fully explain that shift, but I was finally connecting the dots from action to my body’s reaction.
If I ate an entire large deep dish pizza at midnight, I would feel like hell in the morning and feel crappy all day long. If I never got off the couch during my free time then I was going to be winded walking up an embarrassingly small set of stairs.
I started finally thinking ahead to what my current actions were going to make me feel like later, and it became addictive. When I would go grocery shopping I was finally able to realize that if I didn’t buy a stack of frozen pizzas then I wouldn’t have a stack of frozen pizzas to eat throughout the week.
I had to make decisions ahead of time because my will power and self-discipline is piss-poor.
Each time I went to the store and bought lean meats and vegetables and no soda I would be excited the entire way home. The good decisions became addictive.
It felt incredible to think about my choices and think of the outcomes, one would make me feel crappy and add to my weight, the other would leave me satisfied and proud of myself for making the right choice.
Every day I make as many choices in the better direction as I possibly can, with each right choice it makes the wrong choice look worse and worse and less satisfying.
What does your daily diet look like?
I tried several times to properly explain my diet, but it is so loose, random, and changes far too often to easily break it down. So instead I’m just going to list a good amount of rules that I came to follow, along with a couple key foods that really helped me choose a healthier diet.
Calories Out > Calories In.
I don’t pay attention to exactly what my calories are or when I get them, just that I don’t take in too many. I started out using MyFitnessPal to keep myself between 1500 and 2000 a day.
The app really helped me wrap my head around what I put in my body, eventually, I started using it less and less but still go back just to keep myself on the right path.
Listen to my body.
I follow a loose form of intermittent fasting. I simply don’t eat until I’m hungry. That means if I’m hungry when I wake up I’ll have breakfast.
If I’m not hungry till noon then I just wait until then. If I’m busy all day and I’m not hungry until 4:00 then I wait until then. I don’t wait until I’m starving, but I don’t force myself breakfast if I don’t need it. I’d rather save those 500 or so calories for later when I’m actually hungry.
In tough situations take the better option.
If I’m eating out with family or go to someone’s house for dinner, I simply aim for the best option available.
Yes, that means a lot of grilled chicken sandwiches and salads, but I am always pumped that I got through a tough situation without packing in a ton of extra calories I don’t need.
No ‘lost days’.
If I can no longer ignore my craving for buffalo wings and I have a dozen of them for lunch, that’s ok and it doesn’t mean my whole day is lost and I should just say screw it and have whatever I feel like for dinner too.
Just making as many healthy decisions as possible in a day, no matter how many I screwed up earlier in the day.
No Wasted Calories.
This one is huge for me. I used to snack constantly and take in way too many calories without even realizing it or fully enjoying them. Before snacking on something or making an impulsive decision on food I have to take a step back and ask myself if I really want it and if its’ worth it.
I’d much rather save my calories for a food that I really enjoy and have more of that instead of something that I’m eating just because it is right there.
Nothing is off limits, but some things are limited.
I don’t tell myself I can’t have certain foods, that doesn’t work for me and is not sustainable for me at all.
So instead of saying no soda I will have one if I’m really craving it but put it off as long as I can and then have just one. Most of this is just portion control really.
The foods I eat change pretty often and are pretty sporadic. But most of the time I am aiming for the most filling low-calorie foods I can get my hands on. These are a couple things that I eat fairly often.
- Steam Fresh frozen Veggie Bags (usually broccoli)
- Tyson cooked frozen chicken breast.
- Sparkling flavored water for a soda replacement.
- Cauliflower fried ‘rice’
- Progresso Light soup
- Strawberries for snacks/desserts
- Egg Beaters
- Sliced Turkey Breast
These are the 10 most common things I ever put into MyFitnessPal by far. I go through phases where I will eat one of these daily for a couple weeks until I got sick of it and then move on to something else and just eat it over and over again.
What workout routine has worked best for you?
For a long time, I wasn’t really working out at all. At my job, I am on my feet all day long and routinely walk 1,500 steps in a day with some days going as high as 22,000.
When I started working out I would just do cardio, I haven’t started lifting yet. At first, I would just do the elliptical at the gym, go as long as I could usually 3-5 times a week. I quickly got up to an hour at a time on the elliptical and was just pushing the resistance up a bit each time.
After a couple months of that, I felt comfortable getting on the treadmill which is something I was avoiding before because my knees would hurt from running at 285 lbs.
I did the same thing on the treadmill, just built up the time each time I ran and going as long as I could until I transitioned that to running in the park or on really simple trails. I eventually worked my way up to being able to run an actual 5 K. The workouts were not as instrumental in my weight loss as the diet was.
How has your life changed since the transformation?
My life hasn’t changed a ton up in until very recently. I have been working the same job throughout my entire weight loss and most of my hobbies and activities are the same (with the addition of a couple more active activities).
But my whole life is definitely gearing up to be drastically different than it ever was. In one week I will be moving to Alaska for the summer to work at a brewery. I will be living in a cabin near a national park where I will be able to camp and hike on a daily basis and do things that I have never really done before.
I don’t know if I would have gone for this job before losing weight, and even if I did I would not get the same type of experience than I am going to get this summer.
Any noticeable difference in the quality of your life?
The biggest difference in my quality of life is that I feel really good every day. When I was really big I always felt tired or groggy, and achy. Now I feel good on a daily basis.
I get better sleep with less snoring. Normal tasks don’t exhaust me as much as they used to so I am more inclined to actually just get up and do things instead of being lazy and pushing them off.
When I walk around I feel more confident and put myself out there more because I’m less self-conscious.
“You can’t outrun a bad diet”. That really helped me when getting started because it made me realize that you can run all day long, but if you eat tons of fast food then you are breaking even at best. I always thought I’d be able to eat whatever I wanted if I was just active enough, but that is far far from the truth.
The ‘paper towel roll theory’ always helped me out too, especially in the beginning. In this idea, you are the cardboard tube and each extra pound you have is one of the paper towels on the roll.
The first paper towel (pound) you take off won’t make a very noticeable difference because it doesn’t even wrap all the way around the outside.
But with each paper towel, you take off the more and more noticeable each one becomes since its taking off several layers when it gets down to the tube.