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Where I reveal my beach body

by John on July 18th, 2014
Beach Body 2014

It started with my tagging a random Twitter conversation at the end of 2012 . . . two friends were saying that they were going to get serious about weight loss in the new year. I said that I didn’t want to be left out. A few other people joined in, and, *poof* we had a good number of people, all watching what they were eating, looking to lose weight.

At the time, I weighed 256 pounds.
Before Weight Loss
For the next six months, I logged every bite of food I ate. I logged every sip of drink I drank. I ate within my caloric guidelines most every day, and weight started falling off. I ran when I could. When I couldn’t run, I would stationary cycle (because I hate the dreadmill). After 6 months, I had lost 40 pounds.

I looked better, I had more energy – but I wasn’t “there.”

So I looked into maximizing my workout time — simply, I couldn’t sustain completing several hours of cardio a day, and that’s what I was doing. So I looked into getting stronger . . . and I started lifting weights. My weight didn’t change but my body started changing in some wonderful ways. But I grew frustrated having to wait for certain equipment at the gym, so I started looking into what I might be able to do “anywhere,” and I ran across some serious bodyweight workout routines.

So I worked to getting myself to do pull-ups (hint: they’re hard when you’ve never done one). I worked to getting myself to do parallel-bar dips.

For the past 60 days, leading up to my annual pilgrimage to the beach, I’ve adjusted my focus: next-to no booze, minimal refined sugars or flours, no processed foods (unless absolutely unavoidable). Pull-ups, dips, and one-legged squats every day (unless I had a run planned, when I might do lunges instead, just to save the legs), but never for more than 30 minutes of exercise.
Beach Body 2014
My weight has gone down — after the first six months of the weight loss challenge, my weight hovered between 210 and 220. With the new focus, I’ve been weighing between 195 and 200 for the past few weeks. I’m far stronger than I’ve ever been in my life. But, more importantly, I believe I’ve stumbled onto a plan that I’ll be able to sustain for a long, long time1 – because, every previous foray into weight loss, for me, has backfired once I started trying to maintain. But logging what I’m eating has become habit, at this point, and I’ll continue that, hopefully, for as long as I’m able to feed myself. Aside from bakery treats, I don’t miss much from the “cleaner eating departure.” Workout-wise, I can take 10 minutes before getting ready for work, or sneak to the gym over lunch, or take a few minutes once I’m home from work without disrupting my day to “find time for exercise”. If I find myself with a few hours on my hands, a long bike ride or run might be in order, but that’s secondary.

1  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be enjoying my vacation, and taking a vacation from how strict my diet has been . . . this next week will have me eating like a ravenous dog let loose at a Chinese buffet and drinking like Hunter S. Thompson at an open bar.
  1. I have loved watching your transformation. I’m so happy you’ve found a routine/diet you can stick to. Congrats and enjoy your vacation!

    • Vacation was wonderful! The best thing about it was that I was able to mostly continue what I was doing while there, so I didn’t have the re-entry woes that I’ve had, previously.

  2. I am in awe of your dedication. Enjoy the beach!!

  3. What an amazing transformation. Your hard work has definitely paid off. Congratulations to you! Enjoy your vacation and keep up the good work!

    • Thanks, Jenn! Vacation was wonderful – and I’m (mostly) back at it, now 🙂

  4. My son is 17 and at about 5’10-ish weighs over 200 pounds (I’m not sure how much over because I try not to pin him down or make him overly concerned about it).

    His weight/height ratio has been of concern to his pediatricians/doctors since he was five years old – an exhausting and frustrating issue that I’m worried has colored much of our interaction in the past decade.

    I try to keep the focus on ‘fitness’ and ‘health’ but he doesn’t seem to care too much about his size/shape. He wants to eat what he wants when he wants it and, although he belongs to a gym, he isn’t fond of hard exercise.

    Other than setting a decent example myself, am I missing some approach that might help him or should I just let him be? Frankly, he’s happy – and I’m afraid my pushing him might have a negative impact on his self-esteem. On the other hand, my husband’s family has a lot of health issues connected to weight. I fear he might become an unhealthy adult. Irrevocably.

    Sorry to hijack your comments for my own personal conflict – but you seem to have made some solid connections (emotional/physical/behavioral) that we here at the Gardner house haven’t yet grasped.

    • He actually sounds a LOT like me at his age. I wanted to look good, but that was only to pick up girls (I wish I could phrase that way in a way that didn’t sound so shallow, but, well, um, yeah, I can’t). While I wanted to look good, I had little desire to be healthy. And I was outgoing, so I had few issues meeting girls (and, playing in orchestras, I seemed to have continuous opportunities to meet new people).

      I despised pushing myself. I ate what I wanted. I was vaguely aware that I wasn’t doing things as healthily as I could be, but I, simply, didn’t care enough to figure out what I should be doing. And portions – oh my god, could I put food away. Heck, it’s still a family joke at any Batzer family gathering.

      Like most any major life change, it’s a matter of figuring out how to make him want to change. For me? It was the doctor’s little “cluck” every time I had to go to the doctor & my weight had ticked up. While I had taught myself to enjoy making myself tired, watching my pace slow down as I exerted more & more effort was demoralizing. But the main thing, that beat out all others, was having to buy myself new pants. I graduated high school 38×34. College saw me balloon up to 42×34 (and get down to 36×34 at one point). After college, though, I started buying pants on my own – and, with that, “being unhealthy” came with monetary punishment (having to buy new pants) and demoralizing moments (buttons flying off pants that I painfully stuffed myself into and having to see the clothes that I no longer fit into, in my closet — because I was far too cheap to get rid of anything that didn’t fit).

      Here’s hoping that something comes about to help him figure out how to motivate himself . . . with my two four year olds, I worry, terribly. I try to make as-good choices in front of my kids as possible: they watch me exercise, they see how I eat. But, right now, CJ will gladly finish most anything that Leila doesn’t eat (ESPECIALLY dessert), and I see my fat-kid self in him (mind you, he’s super thin because four year olds run around all of the time), because that’s what I did growing up – going out to eat, we never took home leftovers, because I’d just eat everything on the table. Heck, even now, I need to consciously eat slowly because, if I don’t, I don’t realize that I’m no longer hungry as I shovel food in.

      At your son’s age, my size never got in the way of meeting people, particularly females, so I never had the motivation to change, then.

  5. An endless struggle and look how you have turned it around – yay you.
    I have this in my house, much like Julie … my oldest finds it of little concern and the past year has seen her become less active, more on the computer, crafting, writing, drawing … not much movement … and a large weight gain.
    With the emotional stress she has been under, it is hard to find a way to discuss it without adding to it … but perhaps putting my self out there, making changes is the way to go.
    Thank you for these thoughts today xxxx

    • While a big part of why I “got serious” was so that I could continue to pick up my kids, watching my kids start to think “should I exercise?” has me continuing. When we head downstairs to play video games, I always make CJ wait for just a moment while I crank out some pull-ups or something. I hope to convey the “playing video games is fine, but I have to be active, too” message. I guess time will tell if it actually leads to anything – but I do see my four year old son try push-ups whenever I do them. So that’s something.

      On the diet front, however, he thinks anything he likes to eat is “good for him,” and getting him to think about what he’s eating . . . well, I still struggle, so it’ll be an issue, methinks, for a long long time.

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