I have lived most of my life being overweight, and have tried to get in shape since I was very young.

The last half of high school was the only time I ever considered myself to be, “in shape,” after taking 3 years of weightlifting classes. I was 18 years old, I weighed 165 pounds, could easily jog a mile, and I was very strong for my body weight.

This unfortunately was short-lived, and after graduating all of my hard work was reversed. Weightlifting class was over, life was starting, and my bad eating habits got worse.

In college I would eat waffles and sugared cereal in the morning, eat candy and drink soda all day, have pizza for lunch… and then eat anything I could get my hands on after getting home.

I would go for days without drinking plain water, I ate fast food multiple times per day, went through boxes of snack cakes every week, lived off of fast food and TV dinners, and often ate snacks and desserts for breakfast.

8 years went by, and I had gained 80 pounds since high school. The heaviest the scale ever read was 248 pounds. There were times that I had tried to lose weight in the years before, but I would always give up and always tried going hungry rather than eating healthy food.

After a while I stopped trying to lose weight, and somehow convinced myself that I just didn’t care anymore.

I know that deep down I really did care, because when the full realization of what I had done to myself hit me one day, I was crushed. Dreams of living a healthy lifestyle with a healthy body came rushing back, and all of a sudden I felt like I had wasted a piece of my life.

For anyone who has never been extremely overweight, it’s hard to understand how people can, “let the problem get so bad.” You look in the mirror every day and in the back of your mind you know what’s happening, but you try not to see the truth because it hurts. You still see the same person that you have always seen, until it goes beyond the point where you can continue to keep looking the other way.

One day it finally hit me… “I’m not just a little overweight anymore… this is going to take a long time to fix. I can’t live the life that I want if I keep doing this to myself.”

All of a sudden getting in shape was the most important thing in the world to me.

Making A Change

I remember that my first trip to the grocery store was a bit depressing, since my basket wasn’t overflowing with bright-colored boxes and packages filled with all of the things that I loved anymore… rather only half-filled with bland-colored, uncooked foods that were mostly unfamiliar to me.

I remember thinking, “what are you doing!? You’re going to feel stupid when you get home with all of this food… are you even going to eat it?” I actually felt guilty for buying healthy food because I had bought it several times before and just let it go bad or sit in the cabinet.

But this time I did eat the healthy food I bought, and lots of it. I boiled chicken and brown rice as soon as I got home, and to this day it is still one of my favorite weight loss meals.

I started to embrace the idea of eating healthy rather than eating less, and everyone including myself couldn’t believe how quickly I was changing. I remember thinking that it felt like I was cheating since I never felt hungry, was maintaining muscle, and was losing weight faster than people who were starving themselves.

I wish I had known when I was younger that I could have lost weight so quickly, by simply eating right. Filling up on healthy food gives you all the energy and fulfillment you could want, all while allowing you to burn your own store of fat.

My eating habits today are significantly better than they used to be. I don’t drink soda anymore, I only eat fast food once every few months, and almost everything I eat is lean, whole, highly nutritious food that I prepare at home.

Today I weigh 165 pounds, which means I have lost 80 pounds in the past year. Though losing fat is only the beginning of my journey and I have much farther to go to reach the goal that I ultimately envision, I can look back and be proud of how far I have come.

Originally published at www.TheShapeWithin.com on December 18, 2016.