I don’t think many of my readers know this, but my husband has a weight lose story of his own. His started way before mine did. In many ways his story is easier to relate to and harder to maintain, than mine will ever be. I’ve never pressured him into sharing his story, and truthfully, I don’t think we’ve ever really talked about him sharing it. It’s not something he likes to bring up or talk about often. Until one night we were talking about missions with our friends and one of them was blown away by Jeff’s mission pictures. “You need to share your story!” She urged Jeff. Not one week later, Jeff was emailing me HIS STORY.
I remember when I first saw Jeff’s pictures from high school and his mission. I didn’t even recognize him! He wasn’t the same person in those pictures. Not only physically but I could see it in his eyes. There was something missing. A light. Confidence. Happiness. Weight is a sensitive subject to most people but whether we like to admit it or not, being healthy and fit will change your entire life. Jeff has felt that in his life and I am really proud of him for sharing that story with all of us.
Take it away baby!
Growing up in High School I was always active and loved playing sports. I was always the “Big Guy” and I lacked the self-esteem that I have today. My weight always made me pretty shy when it came to meeting new people or flirting with girls. Consequently, I rarely ever dated, I would NEVER go up to a random girl to get to know her. I always wanted to be skinny and buff like all the other guys but I always seemed to be “Just Friends” with all the girls. It’s funny, but the movie Just Friends is how high school was for me.
No matter how active I was in sports or what I did, it seemed like I never lost weight but gained weight. My mom would cook dinner for us every night and naturally I would eat like a teenager who played sports, this consisted of dinner plates piled high and seconds followed shortly after. I loved food and I loved to eat what my mom made me. Every summer between school years I would continue to be active and work on the farm and I would continue to eat as if I was still playing sports, in turn I would gain 10-15lbs every summer. I was the strongest in my school, I held all the records for weightlifting, I was big and strong in football and I was 260lbs as a senior in high school. So I embraced the fact that I was big and strong, but deep down inside I didn’t like the way I looked and felt so I remained shy.
After graduating high school in 2004 I continued to work on the farm and I attended a semester of college while I waited to go on my 2 yr Latter Day Saint Mission in Indiana. In the mean time I continued to eat like I was playing football. But as I ate and ate my appetite grew and grew. It was common for me to eat 4 hot dogs for lunch and then I’d want some chocolate chip cookies along with some milk. It just seemed that there was never an end to my appetite and I would convince myself that it was OK because, ‘I was active or I would eat better next time.’
I entered my LDS Mission in September of 2005 weighing 280lbs! And, of course, the same eating habits I had growing up followed me into my mission. Even though I was active with walking 5+ miles every day, I still continued to eat obscene amounts of food, unhealthy food, and of course I would always take seconds. One of my favorite meals included going to Burger King and getting a King Size Triple Whopper meal, I would end up eating the whole thing without breaking a sweat. I finally hit 300lbs and decided I wasn’t going to break 301lbs and something needed to change.
In the Spring of 2007, I decided I was going to go home (September of 2007) looking different. Growing up you always saw missionaries coming home from their LDS mission looking different and 9 times out of 10 they were coming home bigger from all the weight they gained. I didn’t want to come home overweight. I wanted to come home looking amazing! So I started playing basketball every morning for an hour, watching what I ate, stopped taking seconds at every meal, and really cut back on my intake of food. I noticed that I couldn’t eat as much cause my stomach was smaller and something miraculous happened, I started dropping the weight like crazy. By the time I completed my LDS mission and went home I had lost 45lbs!
(left: before his mission, middle: after his mission, right: wedding day)
I loved showing everyone how much I lost by taking my suit and wrapping it around my waist to show how much smaller my stomach was. Not only did it impress the people who saw it but it would remind me of how big I once was and how much weight I had lost. This was always helpful for me to stay motivated.
When I got home I went to college at BYU-Idaho and I continued to exercise and watch what I ate. At college I had a lot more time and more resources for exercising. I soon became obsessed with going to the gym. Looking back I wish I knew what I know now so I could be more effective at the gym. I remember I had my routine of lifting weights, which is funny because I remember doing arm curls, today you’d be kicked out of a CrossFit Gym for doing arm curls. Then I would run 2+ miles on the treadmill, I found I loved running on the treadmill because running in the past was always a struggle. Then I would do a few laps in the pool. I loved doing this, I found I would try and stay in the gym longer and longer to find more things to do to burn some more fat. My weight loss was definitely not the same, but I was still able to lose about 15 more pounds before I met Sadie, May of 2008.
Once Sadie and I met you can only imagine where my priorities went… You guessed it, I ended up spending less time at the gym and more time with Sadie. I still continued to exercise while we dated and into marriage. I would wake up early every morning and exercise in the workout room in our apartment complex, but something was missing. During this time my brother in-law was doing this weird workout program called CrossFit. I remember him showing me the CrossFit website and I was so intrigued with the lifts and the movements. Even with the enthusiasm I never caught on.
It wasn’t until we moved out of Rexburg and closer to Idaho Falls that Sadie started going to a CrossFit gym, after the persuasion of my brother in-law. At first I wasn’t on board with Sadie spending the time and money with going to a CrossFit gym, but I could see a change happening in Sadie. After about 6 months, Sadie convinced me to go to the gym and after the first day I was HOOKED. I remember waking up on the 3rd day and being so absolutely sore that every muscle hurt but I was SO desperate to go back to the gym cause I was hooked. After about 2 years and adding Baylor into the family our schedule and budget became way too tight. So we made the difficult decision to say goodbye to the gym and start our own garage gym. Since leaving the gym I’ve studied the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer manual and continue to watch lifting and workout videos on YouTube so I can continue to train and perfect my form.
I still would love to lose another 20lbs and I continue to strive for that goal. Even after all that weight lose it is still to this day a struggle for me to manage my eating habits. Waking up at 5am every morning and working out on my own would seem to be the difficult part of losing weight, but for me, it’s watching what I eat. I keep telling myself “If I have enough self-control to wake up early, shouldn’t I have enough self-control to watch what I eat?” Taking care of our bodies is different from one individual to another. Some struggle with things that others don’t. But we just need to remember to keep it simple, set goals, and don’t get discouraged. Watching what a eat will never ever be easy but I take it one day at a time and, from time to time, I will look back at these pictures and think, ‘No amount of food will taste good enough to mask the feelings that I felt while being at that weight.”
Start simple. Work hard. Believe in yourself. You are capable of more than you know.
Try out the #6weekstofab program to start you on your fitness journey.
photo credit: TRAVIS J PHOTOGRAPHY