Saturday, August 15, 2009

Part 2: Vitum Loses 85 Pounds...and the mistakes that kept me from doing it earlier

Continued from Never Trust a Skinny Chef. A Fat Doctor, however...

For several years, I was eating healthy, knew about the dangers of obesity, and yet found myself at 280 pounds... so overweight that I was considered class 2 obese. So why wasn't I losing weight?

There are three reasons - three mistakes I was making. Once I corrected these mistakes, and took on a lifestyle of a healthy, balanced diet and exercise, the results were amazing:

  • In September, I weighed 280 pounds. By January, I was down to 230 - I had lost 50 pounds.
  • In April, I met my long-term goal of running a 10 kilometer race, something I thought was a big deal
  • In May, I blew that goal away - and successfully completed a half marathon. That's right, I ran for 21.1 kilometers. Never thought I'd pull that off. Ever.
  • My weight now is 195 pounds. That's 85 pounds lost so far (I say so far because that puts me - believe it or not - still at an overweight BMI. 10 pounds to go.)
  • Finally, I don't feel like a chump telling patients they need to lose weight to be healthy... and in fact, if I want to show them it can be done, I just point to the photo of me on my ID badge from September.

So, what were those mistakes that kept me from doing this earlier? Well, for three easy payments of $9.99 sent to.... just kidding! Here they are:

1. I thought QUALITY was more important than QUANTITY.

Healthy eating is important for disease prevention - I ate multigrain bagels and chose sugar-free fruit juice for years, never buying pop, chips, donuts or cookies... and only gained weight.

Consider this: I would go to Tim Horton's for a snack between morning classes and proudly ate a healthy 12 grain bagel with cream cheese, instead of what I really wanted - a chocolate glazed donut. Despite my choice being overall more healthy, I was eating 471 calories of healthy goodness instead of the 260 calories in the donut - almost DOUBLE! If I ate one of those bagels every day, and didn't jog for half an hour to burn off those extra 471 calories, I would gain almost 50...that's right, FIFTY... extra pounds in a year.

So, I changed my mindset to cut down on how much food I ate, instead of just choosing healthy foods. And wouldn't you know it, the pounds started coming off. That's why I like to tell people I started on the "put less stuff in me diet."

2. I used to only think of my weight when I stepped on a scale.

In order to actually make a difference and lose weight, my goal to lose weight had to become something I thought of every minute of every day, not just for the moment when I stepped on a scale in the morning.

I knew you had to eat less to lose weight, but I always found myself only thinking about this between meals, and forgetting about it when the food was in front of me.

So what had to change? Every decision I made, such as getting in the elevator, and every time I put something in my mouth, such as my morning coffee or cereal, had to be filtered through the perspective of "how could I change this to increase calories burned or decrease calories taken in?" The answers were easy - take the stairs instead, switch to milk in my coffee, only 1 bowl of cereal instead of 2 (okay, who am I kidding, 3). I just had to ask myself the question...dozens of times in a day, before I did anything.

My weight loss goals had to be something that influenced everything I did and every thought I had. Sure, it might sound a bit obsessive, but after years of unsuccessfuly trying to "eat healthy," for me, that's what it took - a complete mindset change.

3. I didn't use a simple strategy to overcome my hatred of exercise.

I hate exercising. I was able to run regularly for a while a few years ago, but that dropped off. I didn't really have anything to keep me going.

But now I found three things to keep me getting out there and exercising. First, I combined exercise with diet modification - and started to see results. Seeing the weight come off, and having people comment on it, is a great way to keep you excited about getting out and running.

Secondly, I began to time myself, and try to break my records. I got RunKeeper, a free app for my iPhone, and tracked how long it took me to run a certain time. The next time, I would try to run the same distance just a second or two faster.

Thirdly, I signed up for a 10k race. This gave me a goal to work towards, and an exciting event to participate in when the day finally came.

Now I just have to come up with a way to overcome my even more intense hatred of lifting weights...


Pre Med Journey said...

Inspiring story, and great that you have a very personal example to share with patients.


madsadgirl said...

Well done; that is really impressive.

Premedc said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Premedc said...

Wow! Mind-blowing. Talk about setting an example for your patients.

Just wanted to congratulate you and say keep up the good work. This post is quite inspirational.

Anonymous said...

you hold too much weight on the BMI which indicates i am obese. i am 5'11 at 220 pounds and the very last thing people call is fat...

Jesocki said...

Congrats Vitus!!!! Well done!!!!

Ken said...

Ah yes, the eat-less-and-exercise-more plan. Congratulations on your accomplishment! Many of us have food choices which we think to be healthy, until we actually look at them. I also learned recently of the Tim's multigrain bagel being a calorie bomb—who knew?

Unknown said...

I enjoyed reading your post! And I feel really happy for you! I spent my 4 week of gen surg with this one doctor who does bariatric surgeries. I saw how people struggled with their weights, and how some became successful. The patients range from mildly to morbidly obese. With surgeries and their hard work, 5 yr success rate is about 60-75%. My preceptor said, from what he's seen, only 1% of people were able to lose weight without surgeries. You are the 1%! It takes a lot of will power to lose weight!Keep up the hard work!

Anonymous said...

HEY, WTG. Glad to hear you are healthy. I love your plan, eat less, weigh less....awesome!

chasingzebras said...

Congratulations! That is quite the accomplishment. I've been inspired to steer away from the desserts this week and put on my running shoes a bit more.

SuperStenoGirl said...

Congrats on your weight loss! I was so surprised when I found out, about a year ago, that there were more calories and grams of fat in a muffin from Timmy's than there were in a plain donut! Talk about a shocker.

Keep up the good work!

Web Solutions said...

Keep it up

J_dub said...

Vitus, as a fellow student who's seen you in person, may I let your readers know that along with improving your health on the inside, you have transitioned from baseline dashing and handsome, to damn fine!