Sunday, March 14, 2010

Losing Weight - Part 2

I started losing weight the summer before I entered law school. At first, the results were slow. Then, they came faster. I had tried dieting many times before, but nothing stuck.

I had always been a chubby kid growing up. Sure, I played basketball and baseball. But I was never really any good. Never really athletic. And my eating habits were poor. Breakfast usually consisted of eggs, sausage, bacon, chorizo con papas, tacos, etc. Junk food was a staple, as were fried foods. Coming from a Mexican background did not help: Mexican food is rife with saturated fats and cholesterol! My parents never taught me good eating habits growing up, probably because they were never taught themselves. All that changed when my dad had a heart attack.

He was in the hospital for a few days. The doctors gave him an eating plan to follow. They warned him about the dangers of eating unhealthy, of not exercising and managing weight. As a family, we became a lot more conscientious about what we put on out plates. We became educated on why it is important to eat well. But, it didn't stick.

We got caught up in our old ways. Things returned to how they were: all-you-can-eat buffets, sweets, fatty foods. Only this time, we ate with a sense of guilt. Eventually, we fell into a spiral of yo-yo dieting. We'd do really good for about a month or so, and then fall back to our old ways again, eventually gaining more weight than we had to begin with.

In college, things got worse for me. I lived right beside a 24-hour Whataburger. A typical day of eating might have included the following: no breakfast, but a very big lunch of two foot-long Subway sandwiches (usually I got the BMT, which is made of pepperoni, salami and ham), double meat and double cheese on both sandwiches. With that order, I would get two bags of chips and eat them as well. I ordered two sodas because I didn't want the employee checking me out to think all that food was for me. I wanted them to think I was ordering for a friend. Sometimes, I would even pretend I was on the phone while ordering for my "friend." Then, I'd take it all up to my dorm and eat by myself. Dinner might have been two burritos from Chipotle, again, the second one ordered for my "friend." And for a midnight snack, usually at 2 or 3 in the morning, I'd walk over to Whataburger and order the Triple Meat Cheeseburger and a large order of fries.

I never exercised. My waist size reached 56 inches.

It is with a certain amount of shame that I look back on how I used to be. My lifestyle. My eating habits. I put my body through such horrors, I can't even tell you. It makes me sad to think back to that time period. I think of all the opportunities I missed out on, and it makes me dizzy! But, it is never too late to change, to flip your world upside down and really rework and revamp your life.

People ask me sometimes how I did it. How did you lose all that weight? I really don't have any secret answer or magic formula. It was just something I did. I watched what I ate and I exercised regularly. Persistence was key. Some weeks I saw no progress. Some weeks I would backslide. But, you have to keep the big picture in mind at all times. If you fall down, get back up and keep going.

Before long, the pounds were melting off. I knew after I lost 50 pounds that I was on a roll. It was kind of scary, too. I was so afraid that I would yo-yo again, that something would happen and I would gain all the weight right back. It felt like a last chance kind of thing, that if it didn't work this time, then for sure I was a hopeless case!

Luckily, nothing like that happened. Instead, I learned to love exercise. Running became my thing. When I started, I couldn't run from here to there without gasping for breath. Over the summer, I would go walking at the high school elliptical track by my house. I would do eight laps. Two miles. Eventually, I tried to run some. It became a game. A challenge. Little by little I was running more and more. One day, I ran the entire lap without stopping. It was a tremendous accomplishment for me!

Losing 180 pounds was definitely one of the toughest things I've ever done. But, the rewards have been great. Aside from being healthier, I simply feel better.

Nonetheless, I think I still have some issues with eating that I have never quite worked out. I still feel guilty sometimes when I eat out. Sometimes I catch myself binge eating or doing some emotional eating. Sometimes I still see myself as fat. These are things I struggle with. They are serious problems and I need to address them. I will write a new post on these issues soon.

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