When I weighed over 450 pounds and began a life change to lose 250 pounds I utilized social media to hold myself accountable and my friends have been fantastic in lending their support and encouragement. I suppose at the approximate halfway point, after losing over 160 pounds, I’m becoming somewhat of an expert at weight loss. People seem to recognize my success to date and I’ve had numerous inquiries into “how I’m doing it.” I’m only too happy to share with anybody interested what has worked for me. The truth of the matter is that I’m finding this incredibly easy by now and you could too if you adopted some of the mindset that I employ.|
My journey began with an audition to be cast on “The Biggest Loser.” At the time of the audition I had never seen the show but I was aware of their phenomenal ratings. I was an aspiring stand-up comedian at the time and I figured the show could be a great launching pad for my career. I was pretty excited when I made it through the first round screening and was invited back for an on camera interview the following day. I didn’t make it onto the show but what happened in that interview changed my life forever. The producer asked me questions that I had never considered before in my life. Questions like; “What do you think people see when they look at you.” “Why do you think you have chosen comedy as an outlet for your weight issues?” “Why is it important for you to make others feel good about themselves?” And so on. I wept.
I was never one of those guys who had any underlying skeletons in my childhood that possibly lead to my obesity but it became obvious to me that my entire way of life had compensated for my excessive weight and I didn’t really like where I found myself. As soon as I got home after that interview I faced some harsh realities. First and foremost I knew that if I were to advance in the audition process I was nowhere near ready to compete in any physical test to make it on the show so I went for a walk. It was a surprisingly short walk because by just walking to the end of my street and back I was exhausted and drenched in sweat. This was going to be hard. I had lived my entire life with diet and weight loss failure and I wasn’t so sure I could do anything about it this time either.
I tried to examine why I was so out of control with my eating and couldn’t really come up with anything so I just kind of figured at this point… it just didn’t matter. I had to find a strategy to change and I could worry about the underlying reasons for my obesity later. There are really three aspects of my life I had to change; mind, body and soul.
The mind was going to be the tough one. I was pretty much helpless and out of control when it came to eating. No matter how hard I tried I would always realize too late that I had just devoured a bag of chips or I had just eaten a couple of sandwiches between meals. It made me pretty angry that food had control of me so I used that anger to recognize that my lack of control over food was exactly what my problem was and I wasn’t about to let that have control over me any longer. I started seeking advice from fit people. I’d always known that it’s important to surround yourself with people whom you wish to be like. This doesn’t just apply to the corporate ladder.
My friends challenged me to get rid of the foods in my house that gave me the most problems and replace nutrition poor shacks with nuts, fruit and veggies. I needed to quit the pop (soda for you non-Midwesterners) and start drinking water. Lots of water. Did you know foods like dill pickles and celery have virtually zero calories? I know… celery sucks but if you put an almond in your mouth when you take a bite of celery the crunch is pretty darn satisfactory and the result is a sense of fullness that an entire bag of chips never gave me. My friends also told me I should eat more often! I could do that! I added a couple of planned healthy snacks into my day between meals. That helped me control my portions at meal times because I wasn’t so hungry when I sat down at the table. I’ll post more about nutrition another time but to give you some practical tips to help you get started I found a breakfast and lunch that I liked and now I eat the same thing for breakfast (YES You do have to start eating breakfast every day!) and lunch. Each day I know, without even having to check, that I will have eaten 934 calories (less than half of the total 2000 calories I allow myself each day) in the first 8 hours of my day. That leaves me room for some serious options at dinner time when I allow myself a broader selection of options.
You might be thinking… Whoa! The same thing for breakfast and lunch? Every day? Yep. Pretty much. For sure every work day. Sometimes I have something different for lunch on the weekends but breakfast is a done deal. The beauty of this plan is that we get into trouble when we have to make choices. How many times have you gone into a restaurant with the intention of eating light and ended up picking the wrong things only to feel guilty later. Eliminate the problem by knowing exactly what you will eat every day. No choices – no chance for screw-ups.
2 Slices whole grain bread (toasted) 200 calories
2 slices 2% Kraft sharp cheddar cheese 90 calories
1 slice 98% fat free turkey breast 30 calories
1 large egg. (microwaved with light cooking spray) 74 calories
Louisiana hot sauce, salt and pepper to taste. 0 calories
1 - 90 calorie fiber one bar 90 calories
½ oz. Almonds 98 calories
1 medium apple 72 calories
4 stalks celery 10 calories
1 pkg. whole grain crackers w/cheddar cheese 190 calories
2 small Slim Jim sticks 80 calories
I’m not beginning to suggest that this is the diet you should follow. What I’m suggesting is that you find something similar, something healthy and stick with it. For dinner I have 1000 calories to play with. When eating turkey or chicken, fish or whole grain pastas with a salad and some veggies you can have a pretty substantial dinner. I combine this outline with some moderate exercise and it’s good for losing two or three pounds a week. Every week!
(Your calorie intake may be lower or higher than mine depending on your current weight and activity levels. There are a ton of resources out on the internet to give you a basic idea of how many calories you should consume in a week. Don’t take the word of the websites as gospel however. Try their suggestion and then tweak it to meet your goals.)
Did I just mention something about moderate exercise? Yeah. That’s the body part of mind, body and soul. I don’t care who you are or what your situation is you could not be in much worse physical shape than I was at the time I started my journey. At 451 pounds I couldn’t sleep lying down because my weight was such that I couldn’t breathe in the night. I had to sleep in a chair or wake up continually rolling over to find a position that my lungs had the strength to do their thing. If I had to walk further than a few dozen feet I used a cane. I spent nearly my entire life in a chair in front of the TV loathing the 7 stairs of our tri-level home that separated me from our kitchen where the food was kept so I could go back and sit in my chair.
The first thing you need to realize when beginning an exercise program is to start easy, take baby steps. Don’t kill yourself in the beginning trying to do some Biggest Loser “last chance work out.” You are only going to hurt yourself or end up burning out because a workout like that for people like us is unsustainable no matter how much determination you think you have. So go for a walk until you start to get tired and then turn around and go home. Skip a day and then the next day see if you can go a little farther and in a little less time. Set up some easily attainable goals and have fun with it. Walk with a friend who is patient or slap on some headphones with your favorite music or a podcast of a radio show you like to listen to. The more you can distract yourself from the routine of your exercise in the beginning; the better. Start with baby steps and see if you can’t get in 20 to 30 minutes of exercise three times a week. If you can only do five minutes that’s cool. Maybe next week you can do six. Get it?
By now I’m pretty disciplined about going to the gym and my workouts are pretty vigorous lasting two and half hours three times per week. And hey… big thing here. Before you begin, go see your doctor and tell him or her what you have in mind. Get their blessings before doing anything crazy. Cool? I thought you’d think so.
So what about my soul? What has that got to do with losing weight? Well for starters we’ve spent most of our lives making poor choices and being out of control with regard what we put in our mouths and how we treat our bodies. The “higher power” thing has helped me every step along my journey and can help you too. I’m Christian and spend much of my time in prayer to gain the strength I need to keep motivated, to avoid temptation and yes… I spend a lot of time praying for my time on the treadmill to be over with or at least that I can be distracted from the sense that I am suffering while doing my cardio. I have friends of all faiths and it is my experience that our God is a loving God. Putting your trust in Him when you feel like you just can’t go on gives you the strength to persevere. Maybe you’re skeptical about this but I’d like to ask you, what could it hurt to give it a try? There is no one way to pray, no one way to talk with God. Just tell him what’s on your mind; happy or sad, angry or skeptical.
I draw God into nearly every exercise and the start of every day expecting that He will give me the strength to honor Him with the body He gave me. Perhaps the single best part of depending on your Higher Power on this type of journey is that you don’t have to be alone. Believe me the time you spend in your head when you are doing things you don’t really want to do, when denying yourself things that you think you should be able to enjoy or when you know you need to leave the warmth and comfort of home on a rainy day to head off to the gym; it’s good to have a reliable and loving God to take along with you. For me my commitment to God with what I do with my body can be summed up with 1 Corinthians Chapter 6 verse 19-20, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” That’s pretty straight forward.
The body, mind and soul approach to weight loss has worked wonders for me and I hope it works for you. I’m so thankful for my success to date that I want to share it with anyone who will listen. Remember, see your doctor, talk to your friends, and talk to God and start with simple sustainable steps. Make little changes in your life. Park a few spots farther from the door of the store or work each day. Take a flight of steps now and then. Maybe go to the park instead of to a movie this weekend. Get out and enjoy your life. All your friends are waiting for you! If I can be of any help at all to you please feel free to contact me. I would be willing to answer any email you have. Don’t be afraid to ask others for advice. I did that for fifty years and it almost killed me. If you need anything I can be reached at Chris at WilcoxComedy.com My next weigh-in is next Friday morning and I’m expecting to have lost another three pounds. That could be you too!
Peace and Love!
Christopher David Peter Wilcox
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