What’s the most you ever weighed?
At my heaviest, I weighed over 450 pounds. I often share a story about a digital scale I owned (one a doctor recommended because it registered higher weights than many scales). One day when I got on the scale, it registered “ERR.” I wasn’t sure what that meant — until I checked the scale’s owner’s manual, which explained that “ERR” was short for “Error” — indicating the scale wouldn’t go any higher than 400 pounds. After that, I stopped trying to weigh myself at home and could only do so at a doctor’s office with a professional scale (that is until I finally got my head together and just stopped eating so much!).
How much do you weigh now?
Believe it or not, I haven’t stepped on a scale in several years. Even though I was staying around 175 pounds, I was finding that anytime the scale would register any weight above that, it would crush me, mentally. And instead of inspiring me to take off the extra pounds, I found myself tempted to get back into the binge/crash diet habit that plagued me in the past. Thus, I started paying attention to how my clothes felt when wearing them. There are a couple pair of pants that let me know if I’m above, at or below my ‘set point,’ (which, again, is around 175 pounds). Now don’t get me wrong. The scale can be a very valid tool in battling the bulge. But I believe it’s just one component of success and shouldn’t be the “Be all, end all” that us dieters sometimes make the scale out to be.
How did you take off all that weight?
The old fashioned way: Eating less, exercising more and being sane about it — every step of the way. In other words, I just stopped eating so much! This also included getting enough rest (sleep), drinking plenty of water and also seeing a doctor from time to time to make sure I was doing things the right way. I wanted to be as healthy on the inside as I wanted to look good on the outside. There was no surgery involved, no wacky diet plans, no pills and no magic wand. There was, however, a whole lot of old-fashioned “Tough love.” And it was when I stopped trying to “trick” my body that the weight literally melted away. Within a year’s period, I took off over 250 pounds. I did some yo-yoing after that, as my body got used to its new set point. I’ve kept the excess weight off ever since. (And yes — if I can do it, anyone can do it!)
Did you have loose skin after losing weight? If so, how did you get rid of it?
Because I had been overweight since first grade and didn’t lose weight until after college, I did have lots and lots of loose skin to deal with — most of which did not retract even after I lost the weight. This loose skin dilemma happens to many dieters but is not something that’s often discussed in the diet industry. Even when eating right, exercising and after being at my ideal weight for years, I had “flabs” of skin that I had to deal with. It bothered me as much psychologically as it did physically. So I finally decided to visit a surgeon to see what my options were. Insurance would not cover the surgery, so I ended up charging it to credit cards. I found a very reputable, very realistic surgeon and ended up having over a yard and a half of loose skin removed from my chest, my upper arms, my abdomen and my upper thighs. The surgery took over 7 hours. Normally they don’t do it “all at once,” but the doctor was trying to help me pay as little as possible for actual hospital stay time. This process was grueling and recovery was very intense and time consuming. I don’t recommend this surgery to just anyone. Any kind of surgery has risks. I encourage people to lose the weight first, then live with the loose skin for a couple of years. You never know how your body and your skin will react to the weight loss. A number of factors are involved — including some very individual ones, based on the amount of time you were overweight, your health history and even your gene pool. If you do find yourself concerned about excess skin (as I was), I suggest discussing options with reputable physicians and making your own decision. This is a very serious, very personal decision — and one that needs to be made under a physician’s care (a doctor different from the surgeon, who can let you know if you’re healthy enough to undergo such a procedure). As with most of life’s major achievements, it’s a process: One step at a time! If you want to know more about my skin reduction surgery, the recovery time and even see pre-surgery pictures of my body, I detail all of this (and so much more) in my latest book, Weightless: My Life As a Fat Man and How I Escaped.
Which diet is right for me?
Since I don’t know you personally, I can’t make a specific recommendation. I can and will share the ways that I found success in my blog (and in my book), but I share my discoveries as guidelines I followed that worked for me. You are an individual and need to decide what’s right for you — hopefully in conjunction with your doctor or a qualified medical professional. I have very mixed feelings about “Diets.” As a young kid, being put on a diet taught me how to binge and actually did more harm than good. I think the key to healthy eating isn’t thinking in terms of food as being “Good” or “Bad,” but instead it’s being aware of the right kinds of food in reasonable portions (knowing that when eaten in balance, most foods can be “Right”). I realize that most of us who are very overweight, have lost touch with what ‘reasonable’ is — or even with what healthier foods actually taste like. Thus, diet guidelines are often helpful in the beginning, simply because we’re so out of touch with what really tastes good and what amounts can actually take away our hunger. The principles of most diets are pretty much the same: Eat less. Move more. I don’t believe it’s about certain food groups or combinations of various foods. At the end of the day, it’s about common sense and tough love. Less is more (literally). And eating healthy is as important as eating the right amounts. I suggest staying away from any fake or processed foods. I generally avoid anything with too many hard-to-pronounce additives in the ingredients (and this includes fat and sugar substitutes — not to mention sodas of all types). The more natural the food (and its preparation methods), the easier your body can digest and metabolize it. And after your taste buds adapt, you’ll be surprised how tasty healthy food can be. (And no, I’m not telling you to never have a cupcake again — because it’s all about balance.) Add regular exercise, plenty of water and lots of good sleep to your new eating routine, and you’re sure to have success.
Is food still a daily struggle or are you now able to enjoy your life without obsessing about what you eat?
Food is something I always think about. And because I spent years on and off diets, I must pay attention to my metabolism and my health more than some other people might. I have days during which I eat pretty strictly. I have days during which I’m more relaxed about my food choices. All while being very active (exercising 7 days a week, 365 days a year, unless on vacation — and sometimes even then). Do I resent having to be so “Obsessed?” Not really. Because I never want to weigh over 450 pounds again. I never want a movie theater seat to break underneath me while on a date. I never want to have to ask an airline attendant for a seatbelt extension when flying. And I never want to apply for a job and have the interviewer treat me like I have a disease and refuse to make eye contact with me. So I welcome this overt awareness of my food intake, knowing it helps more than it hurts. And yes, there are days I want ice cream that I choose (key word) not to have it and opt for an apple instead. It’s all about balance.
What kind of food plan are you currently on?
There is no specific plan that I follow, although I do eat healthy pretty much every day. And eating ‘healthy’ can include the occasional indulgent meal or cup of frozen yogurt with toppings. I love to cook and create new recipes — many of which I’ll share with you through this blog (and in my book). But I always keep portions reasonable and remind myself, ‘I can always have more at another time.’ Similarly, when having a healthy salad or meal, I enjoy all the flavors that these kind of meals offer (not to mention the comfort of not feeling stuffed, bloated and/or miserable after eating). It’s all about staying in touch with how you feel and if the meal is nourishing you or harming you.
What kinds of exercise routines do you do?
I workout daily. Yes, this includes Saturdays and Sundays. And usually holidays if I’m able to do so. Exercise helps me as much mentally as it does physically. I am up every morning around 4:30am and at the gym by 5am. I do an hour of cardio, followed by a half hour weight (or strength training) workout. I also change it out from time to time (to “surprise” my body) as well as add yoga to my routine. And yes, even after exercising I still try and take the stairs or the “long way around” whenever possible throughout my day. Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t become one of those creepy exercise-junkies who seem to have had their brain replaced with spandex. When my alarm rings in the morning I often shudder and often have to drag my butt to the gym. And during a workout I’ll sometimes be counting down the minutes to my morning coffee and breakfast fix. But having once weighed over 450 pounds, during which time I would become out-of-breath just from talking on the phone, I love the feeling and health benefits that exercise brings me. So it’s all worth it!
Why did you write your first book, Just Stop Eating So Much!?
For years, family, friends and even strangers repeatedly asked how I took off over 250 pounds within one year — wanting to know how I did it without surgery, diet pills or wacky (and potentially dangerous) diet plans. They also wanted to know how I’ve kept the excess weight off for over a decade. At the same time, I wanted to get the word out that there were options for weight reduction that didn’t have to include expensive meal delivery services or over-the-counter diet aids that warn against wearing light colored underwear due to “anal leakage.” In my opinion, these kinds of “fixes” don’t fix anything. As dieters, we need to focus less on our stomachs and more on our heads. Mind over matter. Or fatter, as it were. Thus, Just Stop Eating So Much!, the book, came to be. By writing the book, I wanted to offer hope and encouragement to a group of people who are being tricked into thinking the only way they can get healthy is through means that could hurt their health more than help it.
Where can I purchase your books?
To purchase my brand new book Weightless: My Life as a Fat Man and How I Escaped on Amazon, click here
Just Stop Eating So Much! Completely Revised & Updated will be available soon in all print and all e-book formats. You can currently get it at Amazon by clicking here or at a 20% discount on lulu.com by clicking here
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Can I submit my diet-, food- or health-related product for you to review?
Yes! If you would like me to personally test and review your diet-, exercise- or health-related product in an upcoming post, you can send an email for more information.
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Can I share your posts and/or photos?
Within reason. I ask that you not only credit the blog, and me but also include a link to the original source of what you’re sharing. (Thanks. I appreciate it!)
How did you create your blog?
I have always had a strong sense of design (thanks to my days working in advertising) and enjoy creating visual elements that help communicate the messages I’m trying to get across. My blog was created by using a template from WordPress and adapting it with my own touches, colors and a few more bells and whistles. While I had very strong notions about the way I wanted the blog to look, I couldn’t have made it sing and/or soar without the help of my very talented blog co-pilot, Sandy. For more information about what she has to offer, click here.