The past seven years have been extremely challenging because poor health, loss, and financial hardships made me feel depressed and isolated. The isolation spurned my massive weight gain, which negatively affected my relationships with friends and family.
It started when I was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma (skin cancer) at age 34. The following six years consisted of more than 10 positive biopsies which resulted in numerous surgeries and treatments that wore me down emotionally. In 2007, my wife of 10 years lost her battle with kidney failures and transplants. The hardships sent me to a dark place where I wanted to crawl into a hole or stay in bed.
In January 2012, something changed and I can't pinpoint exactly why. At a doctor appointment, I weighed 200 pounds and my lab work showed my cholesterol at nearly 300. I also faced new cancer treatments and possible hospital time due to high cholesterol. I noticed the cancer treatments got harder as I became more out of shape. Then something in my head clicked. I was tired of getting beat up by cancer treatments and decided my life of poor health had to change.
The biggest health issue I faced was due to a poor diet and lack of exercise, so I started researching diets and exercises online to find where others fail to avoid pitfalls. I decided to get healthy in stages so I didn't overload my schedule or willpower. The diet had to come first so I would have the energy. I learned from a variety of different sites, including Bodybuilding.com. The Kris Gethin 12-Week Hardcore Trainer videos were the most helpful.
The biggest problem with my diet was all of it. I ate fast food every day because I didn't want to cook. I bought cheap, processed snack foods because it was quick and easy and ate huge portions because my depression caused binge eating. When I figured out what to shop for, I threw away the bad food and replaced it with good food.
Through my research, I discovered to break up my daily diet into six small meals. I also learned how to cook good carbs like whole grains, brown rice, potatoes, and quinoa, and to avoid white flour products like white bread, white rice, white pastas, and sugars. The most difficult concept to grasp was eating fatty foods to burn fat.
Maintaining a disciplined eating schedule was difficult at times and finding healthy solutions to fit my plan while eating out with friends was hard, but there were ways. I had a great support system and my friends and loved ones always accommodated my plans by eating at "relatively" healthy places when we went out. For cholesterol purposes, I completely removed red meat and "avoidable" sugar from my diet, which was the hardest part of the diet. It took one month for me to form good eating and cooking habits.
When my diet was under control, I went back to Kris Gethin's 12-Week Trainer and started slow so I wouldn't burn out. I spent a month increasing my cardio until my morning run on the elliptical became routine and fit into my schedule. Between the diet and exercise, at the eight-week point I noticed the weight loss, as did my friends and family.
The final phase was to add weight training and bring my weight up because I wanted good muscle structure. I created a training split for different muscle groups and decided on a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday routine as described in the video trainer. I started light on a home gym until I was comfortable increasing the weights and sets. I stayed on the home gym for six months so I could work without distractions or travel issues. During the six-month period, I adjusted to a four-day lifting routine that worked well.
I feel that there should have been more obstacles during the process, but for some reason, my mind was set and I didn't make it difficult by second guessing myself. I never told myself "I can't eat sugar." Instead, I said "I don't eat sugar." During difficult times, I tried to remember how I felt walking up stairs when I was more than 200 pounds. My before photo is the background on my phone and computer. It's all it takes to snap out of a difficult situation.
The one aspect that challenged me most and still challenges me is pushing through pain, heat and discomfort. This pain, heat, and discomfort inspired me to write a paper last summer to help me remember it in the future entitled "Pain and Persistence."
I continue to lift heavy in hopes that I can someday enter a fitness competition. If not, then I will continue because of the joy it brought me.
There is no one answer for everybody when it comes to fitness, health, diet, weight loss, or weight gain. Everybody has different genetics and metabolisms. Motivation, desire, and will come to people in their own time and for various reasons. My results came without doctors, nutritionists, or trainers.
You may never be a bodybuilder or runway model, but you can get healthier and have energy that is robbed by extra weight. My last cancer treatment barely fazed me compared to ones prior because of my improved health. The mind is a powerful tool. Use it.
Bodybuilding.com is a great tool with a wealth of information about supplements, training, and dieting. I owe Bodybuilding.com great thanks for helping me past fears and misconceptions. Kris Gethin's 12-Week Trainer was very helpful for diet, exercise, safety, and technique. The other videos on the site helped me research what worked best.
A special thanks goes to Kris Gethin for his videos and training tips. I also want to thank my uncle, Corey Moore, for the insights and tips. And finally, to my friends, family and girlfriend, Jennifer Solotkin, for the support that helped me through the rough times.