Hello, everyone! I hope that you had a great weekend and are ready for the week ahead. I got to spend some time with family this past week, helping get ready for a wedding. It was fun and I learned that I am a pasta making master! I’m pretty sure I earned the title Nonna Katie after preparing 70 lbs of pasta. Whew! But it was great to help out and see family and the wedding was beautiful despite the monsoon that was going on outside.
Today I have a new feature for the blog. Each month I am going to be highlighting someone who has totally turned their health around. I talk a lot about being healthier and making good choices here. I think talk is good, but action is the only way you will get the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. I want to show you just what hard work and dedication can get you when you finally make the choice to live healthier. I hope these features will motivate you as well as applaud all the hard work these people have put in!
first feature is Jim. Jim and I went to high school together and were in marching band together. We also had chemistry together our sophomore year, but I don’t know if he remembers that! Jim was someone who was always friendly and willing to help. Many a time he bailed me out of a chemistry disaster when he was my lab partner and was always gracious about my science shortfalls. Thanks, Jim!
After high school, we went our separate ways and sort of lost touch, but thanks to Facebook I saw all the things he was up to. Around last year, I was scrolling through my facebook feed and a picture of Jim popped up. I was shocked because he had lost a ton of weight. I started seeing posts of him running numerous races and seeing updates with before and after pictures. It was incredible and I was so impressed with all the hard work he had been doing to turn his life around. Jim was actually the one who inspired me to start this new feature. I contacted him with the idea and he graciously agreed to be the first. I asked him a few questions about how he had turned his health around and his advice to others who were in the same position he was.
What did you weigh before and how much weight have you lost?
When I started my weight loss journey on January 8th, 2014, I weighed 408.5 pounds. In the past year and a half, I have lost approximately 220 pounds.
What made you want to lose weight and be healthier?
I got to a point where I was no longer comfortable in my body. It was getting hard to move around. I had to be careful where I sat especially with stadium or airplane seats.
What also helped me realize I needed help was the constant prodding from my sister. One night she got really angry at me and said “Jim, you don’t care about yourself!” At first I was upset, but eventually I realized that she was right. It was after that confrontation that made me search for the program I got into.
What were the first things you changed when you started out?
I started with being on an all protein shake diet for 10 months while taking nutrition and exercise classes. Please note that this was under supervision by a doctor. I work with a special program at Lutheran General Hospital. It is called Advocate Weight Loss. (http://goo.gl/84EYf6) Also, I got more active by walking more and taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
What did a typical day look like before you started?
I would wake up at 6 am and get ready for work. Next I would head over to a McDonalds on my way to work and order a breakfast burrito meal with a large sweet tea. I would start work, which consists of sitting in front of a computer. I would order lunch at my work’s cafeteria. Then go back to work. After I was done with my day job I would go to McDonalds/Panera for dinner. I would finish my night teaching/tutoring GED students. When I got home I would have a snack and go to bed.
What was your goal when you first started?
I wanted to be under 300 pounds and become more active. I wanted to fit easier into places and be able to shop for clothes at regular retail stores.
How did you change your diet? What does a typical day look like now?
Now I basically pack all my meals at the beginning of the day so I don’t have to go out to eat. I now eat more fruits and vegetables. I eat lean meat such as grilled chicken and turkey. I reduced my consumption of bread and sweets. I don’t drink soda or sweet teas. I primarily drink just water. I try to drink 96-128 oz of water every day.
How did you chart/ follow your progress?
I use the myfitnesspal on my iPhone and I use the FitBit app to track my steps and runs.
What do you do for exercise?
I work on strength training with a personal trainer 1-2 times a week and participate in my gym’s bootcamps, spin classes, and run club every week. I try to run at least a mile every day.
What is your biggest challenge?
At the moment, my biggest challenge is portion control with certain foods such as with cereal.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated?
I look at old photos of myself and think of how far I have come. I also focus on what I need to do to fulfill my current goals.
What are your health goals now?
Increase my muscular strength. Maintain my current weight. I am also currently trying to train up for a half marathon.
Who has been your biggest supporter throughout your weight loss?
My family have been my biggest supporters. They check in on me from time to time and give me encouraging words.
Any advice for those who are just starting out?
Only think about one day at a time. Thinking about how long it will take to get down to your goal weight can be daunting. Also appreciate the little changes, such as losing a pant size or being able to walk an extra 20 minutes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or support. For exercising I suggest getting involved with a workout class. It creates camaraderie with other people and also helps you stay committed to working out.
You can obviously see that Jim has put it in a lot of hard work to get to where he is now. He knew that he didn’t want to stay where he was and started making changes to achieve his goals. I LOVE his advice about taking it one day at a time. Health starts with small simple changes that lead to big results.
Thank you so much, Jim for being my first feature and keep up the awesome work!