I had to make a change. I’d known I had to for quite some time, but never fully committed. I made countless New Year’s resolutions, “starting January 2nd I’m limiting drinking, eating healthier, and working out.” I would commit to my plan for a couple weeks, then fade away and return to old habits. Pushing it off to “next Monday” or “next week” became the norm.
It was during and after college that my eating and exercise habits became poor. I also experienced an increased appetite from medication side effects. I would get home from work and make up an excuse for not being able to work out. My cholesterol was high and I felt sluggish and had no energy.
Fast forward to July of 2018 and it hit me: ‘I can’t do this anymore; I have to make a lifestyle change. I want to feel better and live a healthier lifestyle.’ I knew it would not happen overnight and I quickly learned that patience was key. It was all about progress; I set a small goal for myself each week. The most motivating factor was looking at pictures and realizing how unhealthy I had gotten.
I recognized that altering my diet was going to play an integral role in my journey. Rather than eating junk food and buying my lunch, I started cooking and eating lean meat, fish, fruits and veggies. I purchased an app called MyNet Diary to help track my macros. I drank at least a gallon of water a day to stay hydrated and to flush out any toxins in my body. I cut out alcohol (which was a difficult task for a twenty-something guy living in ‘Summertime Chi’!).
FFC became my best friend. The 606 Trail became my second-best friend. It was at these two places where I felt I was actually making progress. Yes, my food choices were important, but it was at the gym where I noticed real change. I started running and ran a LOT. I ran 10 miles every Sunday to start the week off on the right foot (pun intended). I either ran or went to FFC every day for three months straight. Some days I didn’t feel like going, but I pushed myself. Once I got there, I never regretted going.
Compromising & Lessons Learned
Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s easy or fun, for that matter. It’s not, but you have to make sacrifices if you really want to improve. I implemented an 80/20 rule for myself: 80% of the time I eat lean, clean meals, but 20% of the time I am still able to eat what I enjoy/crave. Sometimes I have a taste for fried chicken or pizza. Some food is just good for the soul! I don’t restrict myself from anything, however have learned that moderation is key. It is important to focus more on what I’m adding into my diet versus what I’m taking out.
For the first time ever, I was able to take a noticeable “before and after” picture. I dropped 40 pounds and six waist sizes in three months, and have maintained my progress since then. My friends, family, and colleagues all noticed a change. I mentioned earlier that pictures had motivated me, but it was the comments from others that kept me going. Since switching to a healthier lifestyle, I feel more energized in every sense of my being.
When people ask “my secret,” I tell them it was not rocket science or some fad diet. I did not restrict or punish myself, which I know is the reason behind the sustainability. I still go to the gym often, cook nutritious meals, and enjoy my healthy and active lifestyle. The best advice I can give is to be patient with yourself. Transformation will not happen overnight, but if you stay focused and dedicated, change is possible and worth it. And finally, it wouldn’t be fair to conclude without a heartfelt thank you to my fiancé and family for motivating and supporting me every step of the way.
Post written by FFC member John Ziegler.