Who Is This Guy?

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror; I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer; If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place); Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)” Man in the MirrorMichael Jackson

Before and after

See the guy on the left? That’s who I used to be. The guy on the right? That’s where I was last week.

I’ve lived my life in two phases: Being overweight and not being overweight. Until I was 24, I wasn’t overweight. I was in shape, I was active, I played basketball every day and flag football at least once a week.

My then-girlfriend told me that she was pregnant. I was working part-time, renting a room, didn’t own a car and didn’t have health insurance. I gained 60 pounds in 7 months worrying and working on being a provider for my family.

I got a full-time job and was able to take care of my small and growing family. The relationship didn’t work out and I stressed about what kind of relationship I would have with my daughters. My method of coping was to eat. And eat. And eat.

There were moments over the past 20 years where I struggled and fought to lose weight: At 30, a girlfriend broke up with me and I took that time to work on losing about 30 pounds.

Seven years later, my high school reunion prompted me to work out. I lost 40 pounds, but that didn’t last and ever so slowly, I gained all that weight back and more.

Fast forward to this year. I was 43 years old with a wife and a 1-year-old daughter. I played slow-pitch softball and needed a runner when I got to first base.

I was 256 pounds.

My wife suggested I try a boot camp. I found one that was highly recommended and tried the first week for free. And then I took advantage of a discounted monthly rate. And then I signed up for 6 months.

Five days a week. Waking up at 5:45 a.m. Working out. Changing my lifestyle and eating 1,200-1,500 calories a day. And then I started doing something I hadn’t done in nearly 30 years: I started running.

I ran a 5K. And then another 5K. And then a 10K and then a Virtual 5K. Softball, which had been so important to me for so long, stopped being important. Getting healthy, getting in shape, losing weight, having a long life with my wife, being able to keep up with my almost 2-year-old, and being able to run faster have become my priorities.

So here I am today: 49 pounds lighter. Two pants sizes smaller, one shirt size smaller. A half shoe size smaller. A new attitude. And new work ethic. A rekindled fire within. Seven pounds away from breaking 200 pounds – for the last time in my life. 41 pounds and 19 years away from where this crazy journey started.

One of my friends remarked at how easy I’ve made it look. It’s not easy. It’s the hardest thing I’ve every done in my life. There are days I just want to sleep in. There are days I want to turn the car around. There are days I look in the mirror and feel like my progress is good enough.

And instead of quitting, I get back to work.