An Introduction to Eric: Discipline, Desire, and the Will to Achieve, Part 1
Hello, my name is Eric, and I am overweight. I have been overweight for pretty much all of my life. For the longest time, I was OK with it, accepted it for what it was. I am very sociable, outgoing, I have a genuine zest for life, and what's more, I am engaged to the most wonderful woman in the world.
The story wasn't always so cheery.
I had grown up as kind of a loner, never really cared about social norms or what other people thought of me. I had been teased as a kid for being overweight but I came to realize it was just who I was. As a kid, I loved food, any and all kinds of food, including sweets, chocolate, candy, and so on. I never really watched what I ate and was never horribly active, but I was happy, and for the longest time that was all that mattered to me.
Enter graduation, leaving high school and going out into the "Real World". I got a fairly good job, but after a while I got caught up in the pressures and stresses of life after high school. My diet became worse; I started eating pizza and macaroni and cheese for every meal, and my weight skyrocketed. That was bad enough, but then came the booze.
I was working a night job, had no social interaction, no love life, and nothing else to do really, so I drank. A lot. Things quickly got out of control and I got unhappier because I drank, and I drank more because I was unhappy. Fast forward to the day that I went to the doctor and had to step on the scale. 340 pounds. I couldn't breathe, couldn't move very well, and was sleeping 11 hours a day and still felt tired. I gave up the night job and the stresses associated with it, and afterwards met my wonderful fiancee. I still drank on occasion, but I was getting more active, took a different job, and things started to look up a little bit.
Back to the doctor about a year later, back on the scale. Still 340 pounds. I was upset with myself, but I told myself that losing weight was impossible, that there was no way I could commit to making that kind of change. That is, until, that simple walk.
My fiancee looks at me one day and says, "It's really nice outside. We should go for a walk." I was feeling tired and apprehensive, but it was gorgeous outside, so I said, "Why not?" During that walk, I noticed something shocking: I started to feel good. REALLY good. So good that I jokingly looked at my fiancee and said, "Race you to the end of the block!" I took a very slow jog to the end of the block, and I felt even better, so I jogged a little further, and during that slow jog, the realization hit me like a truck: You feel good, and what you are doing is good for you. My fiancee and I finished our walk, and I told myself, "This makes you feel good, so you need to keep doing this."
That summer, 5 days a week, no matter how hot it got, no matter if it looked like it was going to rain, or even if the streets were blocked off due to a car show or music festival, I grabbed my shorts, laced up my shoes, and took a jog around town. Slow at first, it took about 45 minutes to jog a little more than a mile and a half, but I started to feel really good. I was breathing better. I was sleeping better. I could move easier. I was feeling great, and it was all due to one little aspect, one thing in my life that I had neglected for so long: Discipline. We think of discipline as something that we use to keep our kids in line or following the rules at work so we don't get fired, but the discipline to get out and jog every morning made me feel like a brand new man. During this time, I didn't count calories, I had never heard of "MyFitnessPal" or anything like that. I ate what I normally ate, had a beer or two to unwind at the end of the day, but every day, I disciplined myself to go for that 45 minute jog, and I had never felt better.
I started to realize how good the jogging made me feel, so then I started to think of other ways that I could feel good. For instance, I would normally drink a soda in the morning before jogging to give me energy but I hated the way it made my stomach feel during my run. I disciplined myself to give up drinking soda and felt even better. I would normally eat a mini pizza or some chip and dip before a jog, but I felt like this kind of food was slowing me down. I started making a fresh fruit smoothie before a run and in a week shaved 10 minutes off my jog. One step at a time, one change at a time, one little bit of discipline. At 26, I felt better than I did when I was 16.
Even with all the changes, all the discipline, I had never once stepped on the scale after I started jogging. I was scared. I was scared that all the work would be for nothing, that I was trying so hard at this and nothing would come of it, scared that while I felt better, I didn't really look better, and knowing that this might not be working, I feared being depressed, feared that the discipline would go away and that I would spiral back into old patterns. Then one morning, I threw caution to the wind and faced my fear, faced the demons in my closet, and stepped on that stupid, dreadful scale.
I expected to see 340, the same weight I always saw at the doctor, the weight that would haunt me for the rest of my life, the hurdle that I could never quite jump over.
I stepped on the scale, and you know what it read? 325. 15 pounds lighter. Reading that number made me 10 foot tall and bulletproof, and I knew that this was only the beginning. Stay tuned for part 2.