I believe that anyone can lose weight with the proper motivation. Growing up I always had a healthy appetite and there were always plenty of seconds and sometimes thirds to go around. My grandfather had a large stomach, and most of my relatives were overweight. Being fat was the norm in my family, and I didn’t think anything of it. Yes, I didn’t like my man boobs at times and didn’t like to take my shirt off during the summer, but I was not motivated to do anything about it. When I graduated high school I weighed 180 lbs and stood five feet eleven. That was at the high-end of the normal range, and I didn’t think I looked too fat.
Over the next four years when I was in college, I put on the “freshman fifteen” and wound up capping out around 220 lbs which I stayed at for the next couple of years. I eventually moved into my own apartment where I cooked for myself. Cooking for one was never something I learned. I learned how to make a tray of lasagna or a pot of spaghetti. I didn’t learn about portion control. In college, you could go back and get as many helpings as you wanted (and I had). If I cooked half a box of spaghetti, I’d eat that whole amount throughout the night instead of leaving some as leftovers. I wound up putting on another 90 plus pounds over the last fifteen years to max out at 314.
Several years ago my grandfather was in the hospital and as I was looking at his chart I saw that he weighed 219. He was a good half-foot shorter than me, and I remember thinking at the time that I weighed 20 pounds more than him and I had always considered him to be fat. It made me think about my own perception of myself, but it didn’t motivate me to lose the weight. Neither did seeing my family doctor write morbidly obese in my medical chart. A few years ago I had to pay extra for a helicopter ride in Alaska because I weighed more than 250 lbs. None of that motivated me to lose the weight.
For my 38th birthday, my parents and I went to see the Body Works exhibit in Cleveland. One of the displays that they had was a thin person and a fat person sliced open so you could compare the differences. I thought it was interesting but it didn’t impact me or make me want to lose the weight. For my overweight mother, it was life altering. She hired a personal trainer and began to work out. She altered her diet, reducing her caloric intake and eating smaller meals throughout the day. She began to reshape her body and her life. Over the next nine months, she lost sixty pounds and dropped from a size 22 to a size 4.
Seeing mom do it was the motivation I needed. Right after Thanksgiving last year I cut out all starches and processed sugars from my diet. I had been eating pasta three or four times a week, and now I have it maybe once a month. In the first month, I dropped 30 pounds without increasing my exercise. Now I’ve increased my exercise and am going to the gym six days a week. I have lost 84 pounds in six months and weigh in at 230. I’ve dropped from a 44 waist down to a 36, and intend to get back down to my 34s which I wore when I graduated high school. If I can lose weight, anybody can lose weight. You just have to find the right motivation. This I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.