Time it takes to lose 10 pounds: 15 days
Degree of difficulty: Hard
My wife loves me. She loves me unconditionally and still tells me I'm sexy at 292 pounds even though all I see are man boobs and double chins. In my mind, I am still that three-sport athlete I was in high school. I was five eleven, 185 — strong, fast, never without a girlfriend, hung with the in crowd.
That changed when I went to college. For the first two weeks, I ordered a large pizza each night with my "emergency" credit card. I drank beers a twelve-pack at a time. By the time I came home for Thanksgiving, my size-34 waist had inflated to a 38. By the end of the year, my 185 turned into 225. I couldn't jog for longer than three minutes. And yet I couldn't stop. The bigger I got, the more embarrassed I became, the more I ate and drank. The vicious cycle ended with a size-44 waist.
I have started a diet for each month of each year for the past five years, and I always quit. For eight months, I promised my wife, Abby, that while she was putting on weight for the health of our gestating twins, I'd be losing enough weight for both of us. But I didn't even come close. In fact, I matched her Blizzard for Blizzard.
I remember the pure joy of the delivery room the day Kohen and Chloe were born. And I remember the shame and nausea that bubbled up as my father took my first photo with them. I looked at the camera and bit my lower lip, tears streaming down my cheeks. When people saw the pictures, they would smirk at the gorgeous babies. Then they would sigh at their obese father.
On the third night home from the hospital, I was sleeping in the room with the babies when Kohen woke up from his swaddle. I got out of bed and reached down into his crib to lift him out. It was just a matter of inches down into the crib and back up to my chest, but the pain in my back was immediate and crippling. Kohen began to cry as my arms trembled from his seven-pound body. I put him down. I had to put him down. I was so overweight that my back had given out.
Last spring I set out on an ambitious plan to lose seventy-five pounds. For a while, I was disciplined. I began a rigorous workout routine. Worked harder than I had in a decade. Worked out till I threw up. But eventually, as it always does, life got in the way. My wife got pregnant again. I sprained an ankle. Took a new job. I didn't reach my goal. But I did make it halfway there and have kept the weight off — not easy — and I'm not done. I think of my kids, and I can't quit. I won't.
Here are the main changes that have helped:
I try to work out at least four times a week. According to Heather Lehman, my trainer, in order to lose weight most effectively, you need to cause muscle confusion. So her workout consists of eight to ten stations, but not just a treadmill for two minutes, a treadmill at a 45-degree incline. Not just lunges but lunges while simultaneously doing arm curls. There is a five-minute warm-up and a five-minute cooldown. It may sound easy, but it will kill you.
The diet is what you'd expect: fish and chicken in cuts no bigger than a deck of cards, good carbs on another quarter of my plate, and fresh veggies and fruit on the other half. I am also supposed to constantly eat throughout the day, which I am a big fan of, except that what I am supposed to eat (raw almonds, apples, bananas, frozen grapes) I would never eat unless I were starving.
Last, I use a calendar to schedule my workouts as I would a business meeting. They should not be optional and must be planned around. This also goes for meals. My trainer has me plan and shop for these in advance so there can be no excuse for getting home late and ordering pizza.
This regimen hasn't been easy. And I haven't always stuck with it. But the times I do — the times I focus on my workouts and diet for a few weeks in a row — I lose weight. The program works. To lose the rest of my weight, I just need to follow it — for me, for my wife, for my kids. In the end, that's always the hardest part.