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Name: Shawn Tyler Weeks
Before Weight: 344.2 pounds
How I Gained It: I've always been overweight. I don't blame being overweight and obese on any one thing. McDonald's didn't make me gain weight, nor did my parents, technology, or high fructose corn syrup. My weight gain came from the consumption of too much food and a lack of physical activity. I played sports at the YMCA when I was a teenager, sure, but that exercise was offset by 5,000 calories of junk food.
As I got older, my level of physical activity dropped and my consumption of calories increased. My weight really ballooned when I got married, which is understandable considering the amount of focus, dedication and sometimes stress that comes from such a life change.
Breaking Point: As usual in my bigger days, I was going through the Burger King drive thru before work one morning and had a painful encounter with the woman working the drive thru. On this morning I ordered my usual combo, consisting of French toast sticks, a large hashbrown and a large Coke. As I pulled up to the window, the woman took my debit card and handed me my large Coke, with my food still pending. As she was running my card, I took a sip of the Coke and realized that she had handed was Diet Coke. At the time, and still today, I can't stand the taste of Diet Coke. When she opened the drive thru window to hand me back my card, I held out the Diet Coke to her and said, "This is Diet, I wanted a regular Coke."
I will never forget her face, and her snort, when she replied, "You don't want diet?" I had seen the face before. I had heard that snarl, that contained laugh, countless times before. It had been several years since high school, but it felt like I was sitting back in Marine Biology or Economics and getting bullied again. I mumbled a reply back, "No."
My skin is extremely sensitive, and always has been. My face turned beat red, as if I had a severe sunburn. I eventually got my correct drink and food, and headed off to work. That morning I decided to lose weight once and for all.
How I Lost It: I lost weight by counting calories and practicing portion control. Basically, I ate less food and started moving around more to burn calories. I didn't subscribe to a restrictive diet or stick to eating nothing but salads and grilled chicken -- I ate food, real food, like cheeseburgers and fries, hot dogs, steak and baked potatoes, wings, etc. I don't wake up every morning and tell myself "I can't eat this." That doesn't mean I go out to the Chinese buffet every day for lunch, but knowing that I can if I really wanted to allows me to keep going.
When I first started losing weight, I could barely do anything. Walking on the treadmill was an adventure. I stuck to the treadmill for the first week, hated it, then found exercises that were less resistant -- namely, the elliptical machine. I love the elliptical. It's not "fun" by any means, but it's low-resistance, burns a lot of calories and I've come to enjoy spending 20 to 30 minutes on it, five days a week.
My blog, 344Pounds.com, was extremely important to my weight loss. It was my form of weight loss accountability and support. I posted a picture of myself shirtless at 344.2 pounds. I wanted to use the blog as a way to keep track of my weight loss.
At first, I didn't tell anybody about the blog. I just kept posting there, writing about what kind of food I was eating, how many calories a day I was eating, my exercises., etc. I posted a new picture of myself weekly -- shirtless -- as well as an accompanying weight. The weight kept dropping. Eventually, people starting finding the blog. I started getting e-mails from people sharing their own weight loss stories. People congratulated me on my weight loss and encouraged me to keep it up. And that's what I did. I couldn't quit. I still post on the blog today, some four years after starting it.
These days, I mix in fun things to burn calories. You have to have some fun, otherwise you won't see the advantages or benefits of doing so. I bought my three year old a trampoline for Christmas -- it's my gift as much as it is hers. We also have a Kinect and a Wii that we play together. I'll also turn on music really loud in the house and my daughter and I will dance -- it's a fun way to spend time off the couch.
I still do the elliptical about 20 to 30 minutes a day, five days a week. I'll also lift weights four days a week. I lost 100 pounds in the first six months, and nearly another 50 in the next six. It felt great to start noticing results. I loved hearing how great I looked. It might sound vain, but when you go through your life obese and are constantly afraid of people judging you for your appearance because you're so large it's nice hearing and seeing people paying attention to you because you're the opposite. I loved being able to fit into normal restaurant booths, concert seats and theater seats again, things I had long been too big for.
Women look at me now. The world gives me more respect. As someone who has gone from being bigger than everyone else in the room to now looking more fit and in shape than most people, I can tell you that the world treats the overweight and morbidly obese differently. I get looked in the eyes when I go up to a counter in a store or address someone in public. I don't feel like I'm being judged when I order cheese fries at a restaurant. I don't have to shop at the big and tall store in town, but instead I can walk into any store in the mall and pick out clothes that fit.
After Weight: 210 pounds
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