Jan 13, 2012 Neil Benjamin Jr. Uncategorized
With a new year comes myriad dreams, aspirations and, of course, resolutions. Among the most common are quitting smoking, cutting back on drinking and just having a new outlook on life.
But there’s one that’s more common and probably less achieved than any other: losing weight. Yes, America is fat. We hear about it all the time, yet we’re not getting any slimmer, which if done the right way can extend your life and its quality. Easier said than done, yes, but I’d like to share my story with you.
Scroll back seven years, and I was a beyond-portly, 394-pound college freshman. Just a hair short of 6-feet-tall, I was nearly as wide as I was tall. I heard the jokes from classmates and the rejection from girls, but none was as scary as what my doctor told me. At the end of my last physical with my pediatrician I was told very bluntly that if I didn’t lose weight I was in for a life-long struggle that probably wouldn’t extend as long as I’d want.
I wasn’t fat! I was big-boned, I told myself. Then I stepped on the scale used for “normal-sized” people. An error message popped up. I plopped on a special scale in the back of the doctor’s office which stops at 400 pounds. When I finally saw what it said, I was devastated. How could I have let myself go like this? I was a wrestler in high school and tried to stay active.
After a few days of muddling and feeling sorry, I hatched an idea: I was going to lose half of myself. My doctor had explained that if I wanted to start working out, I’d have to diet and lose a few before, otherwise I could have some serious knee and joint problems. My first choice was the ultra-popular Atkins Diet, which starves the body of carbohydrates, forcing it to burn fat reserves. It helped me down to 350 in a brief time before I switched to a low-calorie fare.
Now came the hard part of getting myself to the gym. I was scared of what others might think of my rumbling on an elliptical or treadmill. Would they be transfixed on the overhanging gut?
Off to the gym I went. After a brief stretching session, I warmed up by riding the stationary bike to start a sweat. It felt nice after all this time to be working out. I moved over to the elliptical, but 10 minutes in, I was gasping for air, praying this 20-minute routine would be over soon. I had to finish if I was ever going to meet my goal.
The next day was awful. Every muscle I have felt like it was on fire. But I trekked on, going 22 minutes that day. Then 25, 30, until I made it up to one hour.
I was feeling great, so I decided to start taking boot camp classes, which are high-intensity aerobic sweat sessions based on resistance training. I did that for about a year until I began doing the workouts on my own.
It had been five years of insane work and dedication, but I had made it down to 230 pounds. I no longer wore XXXXL shirts or size 56 pants. Getting up stairs was easy and fun. I started dating, and now I have a wonderful girlfriend.
And it’s all because I decided to dedicate myself to becoming a healthy citizen.
Neil Benjamin Jr. is an editor/reporter for the Eagle Observer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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