My Weight Loss Story

How did I lose 100 lbs.?

When I turned 17, I met some new friends in high school who I guess I could classify as bad influences. I took up smoking cigarettes and smoking pot and drinking on the weekends. I didn’t drink or smoke weed a whole lot so it didn’t affect my grades or anything like that, but it sure affected the shape I was in. The drinking and pot use subsided substantially when I met my wife in 1993 but I was still eating quite a bit.

Over the next 10 years my weight steadily increased to 310 lbs. I wore a size 2x shirt and size 50 pants. Looking back I was really eating a lot!! I could polish off a whole large pizza plus an order of spaghetti. I would go to McDonalds 3x/week and have 1 Big Mac, 1 Quarter Pounder with Cheese, a super size fries and a large coke. The funny part was I never really saw myself as morbidly obese but rather as a “chubby guy.”

Back in 2002, I started getting really bad back pain and I went to see a doctor about it. He prescribed physical therapy. The physical therapy got me on some excersizes to strengthen my back but they also put me on an elliptical machine to do some cardio. This was the start on the road back to fitness. I liked the elliptical so much that I joined a gym and started going almost every day. I would get on that thing for 30 minutes a day and I also started lifting some weights though I did not really have much guidance on what to do. I also decreased my diet somewhat, but it still was not great. Within a year, I got down to about 255.

A year later, I stopped exercising as much and my weight went back up to 275. I saw a dietician and lost a few pounds but I would stay around 270 for a couple years. I quit smoking in 2003.

In Summer 2004, I had been living in my new house for a few months and decided to finally build the home gym. I bought a Precor EFX 544 elliptcal and a multi-gym. I used it 3 times a week. My wife met a very nice personal trainer named Craig Stocker who has a company called United Fitness I kind of thought the exercises he was doing with my wife seemed kind of lame but after a while he convinced me to try it. In the beginning I am sure he doubted my dedication to getting fit and looking back, I am not sure I was that dedicated. He put me on a program and despite my crappy diet (though I did cut out the McDonalds), I managed to get down to around 250lbs where I stayed for about 6 months. I managed to get stronger with the circuit weight training he was doing with me and the pace of the weight training also makes it a cardio workout. I went from not being able to do any push-ups and hardly any sit-ups to being able to do 45 sit-ups in a minute and being able to do about 25 push-ups in a minute.

I was not thrilled with being stuck at this 250lb plateau. My body strength was increasing but the weight was not coming off. My cousin recommended a diet doctor by the name of Dr. Ian Yip ( . I went to see him and he was one of the nicest doctors I have ever come across. He measured my body fat percentage which was 30.6%. He prescribed a very simple diet for me which involved cutting out fatty foods, most bread and sugar. He also prescribed me a diet pill called Adipex. I was not sure about the pills, but he took an EKG blood work. He said my heart was fine and that he has seen great results with medication and that it would only be temporary.

I started taking the medication and since Adipex is an amphetamine it kind of gave me a boost of energy. It reminded me of the Ritalin some shrink once prescribed me because she thought I had A.D.D. It did decrease my appetite and gave me a little more energy. I also adopted an attitude that “this is going to be it, I am going to do it once and for all.” I started eating really healthy and busting my ass harder in the gym then I ever did before. 7 weeks later, I was down 30lbs. to 220lbs. I was very happy with my progress, but was concerned that I may have lost more than fat, which is often the case with that rapid of a weight loss. I had a follow-up with Dr. Yip and he re-tested my body fat percentage. I was down to 20% and I actually lost 33 lbs of fat and gained 2.5lbs of muscle! This meant that I had no setback in terms of lean body mass loss and the weight loss was pretty healthy. My shirt size is now L and I wear a size 38 pants. I can do 52-55 sit-ups in a minute and I did 61 push ups in a minute. I can run a mile in 7:45 and I ran 1.5 miles in 12 minutes. I can now run 3.5-4 miles without stopping. I could barely even run a mile when I was 16.

I have set a final goal weight of 210 lbs for myself. According to the weight charts, I should be 160-180, but that is impossible since my lean body mass is 177 lbs, so I would have to lose muscle to achieve that. If I lose the 10 lbs and not gain any muscle, I will be around 12% body fat, which is a good number. I will then focus on building muscle mass until I am down to about 10% body fat and then I am going to maintain it there, so I need to gain around 3-4 lbs of muscle, which should take around 4 months. I plan to lose the next 10 lbs very slowly. I am going to increase my calorie intake to around 2000/day and cut back my cardio to 30-45 minutes a day, with a rest day thrown in every so often. This should allow me a 1-2 lb/week fat weight loss. I have gotten very used to eating much less than I used to and I eat much healthier. I also now love to exercise. I have not missed a day of working out in the past 2 months. I travel all the time for work and have no problem flying out to the east coast and waking up at 4:45am (which is 1:45am PST) to hit the treadmill for 45 minutes before my 8am meeting. I actually feel extremely guilty if I skip a day of working out, which is kind of bad, since you do need to rest every so often.

So what do I see as my success and motivating factors?

You have to want to want to do this. You have to have the focus and the desire to make a change in your life. I only was able to quit smoking once I really had the desire to and once I did, it was not hard to quit. The same thing goes for diet and exercise.

You need to have something to motivate you besides a number on a scale. For me it was not having to ever have to buy clothes at that crappy big and tall store anymore. I reached that goal a year ago and I fit into most of the clothes in normal clothing stores. The magic number is a size 36 waist to be able to fit into most anything. I will be at that point within 2 months.

One of my big motivators was Craig, my trainer. You can put together your own program, but having someone who is pushing you and making sure you do the exercises fully and properly is key. It is really easy to get lazy in the gym if you are there by yourself. I still am. Craig keeps me honest. There is no way I would be doing 60 pushups in a minute without him. I hated push-ups and would never do them on my own. I still only do them when Craig makes me, so you can see why Craig plays a pivotal role in my fitness.

Don’t be afraid to seek medical advice. The body fat testing was very helpful and you really should have it done every so often. The scale does not tell the whole story. You could lose weight by starving yourself but you would lose quite a bit of lean body mass, which is bad because your metabolism will decrease and you will gain the weight back easier. The diet medication took the edge off my hunger so I could get used to eating much less. Now I am used to eating smaller portions and am very content with it.

Don’t fall for fad diets like Atkins, etc. I have seen people drop tons of weight on Atkins, but they gain a great deal of it back. My grandfather is a doctor and did research into diabetes back in the 50’s. He always told me it is calories in, calories out. You burn up more calories than you take in, you lose weight. That is how you have to do it. I see my friends that are on Atkins gobble up piles of bacon and red meat. It does not make sense to me, all of that stuff has tons of calories. Diets like South Beach and Zone seem to make much more sense. I could never stick to a regimented diet like those. I do what I call the “David Caren Sensible Diet” which involves cutting calories and eating smaller, more balanced meals. No rocket science here. Your diet should not change much when you go from weight loss mode to maintenance mode. You need to make this change for life.

Here are some easy tips I have used to help me lose weight especially since I travel every week and eat out all the time because of it:

  1. Cut out what I call “unnecessary bread.” Don’t eat from the bread basket. Avoid all of those pastries they put out at breakfast. Sandwiches are ok, eat it with 1 slice of bread if possible. I have been going for wrap sandwiches, which I love.
  2. Try to cut down cheese. Most of the time it does nothing for the flavor of your food. Go to subway and get a sandwich and get half with cheese and half without. I bet you won’t notice a difference
  3. One of the big calorie items in restaurants is sauces. If you can avoid the sauce, do it. Typically sauces add hundreds of calories to a dish because they are made with butter, heavy cream, sugar, etc.
  4. Mayonnaise is no longer in your vocabulary
  5. Cut out all deep-fried items
  6. When you get a salad, avoid creamy dressings at all costs. Go for balsamic vinegar with a touch of oil. If that is not available, try to get some non-creamy dressing and drizzle it on very sparingly. Most of those non-creamy dressings still have tons of fat, so be careful.
  7. If you feel like dessert, treat yourself every so often, but either share it or eat less than half of it.
  8. Egg whites have no fat, tons of protein and are low in calories. They are so good for you and they are so easy to get in restaurants these days, you would be a fool to get regular eggs anymore. For when you have breakfast at home, you can buy those egg whites in a carton. Heat up a pan, spray some Pam on it pour in the egg whites and in 2 minutes you have breakfast.
  9. When at a Mexican restaurant and you want to munch that chips and salsa. Try ordering yourself your own dish of salsa and eat it with a fork without the chips. Saves TONS of calories. I am not a big fan of chips anyway, but I love salsa. I just used the chips as a salsa delivery mechanism, so this was not a big deal.
  10. Speaking of Mexican food, chicken fajitas are your friend. Get them with no cheese, tortillas, beans, or rice and you are totally set for a healthy meal.
  11. I used to hate those steamed vegetables they serve in restaurants. I started eating them about a year ago and got used to them. Now I kind of like them, except I will not eat cauliflower. They smell like baby turds to me.
  12. Keep some energy bars in your briefcase. That way you will never be forced to skip a meal or be forced to eat some fatty sugary crap because that was all you could find at the crappy airport or office building you are at. They make for a great breakfast if you are on the go and a nice afternoon snack, especially if you are stuck in a boring meeting all afternoon (which I frequently am). Just find ones that don’t have a ton of calories. I try to find ones that are under 220.
  13. Eliminate beverages that contain calories. If you drink regular cokes, eliminating them will save you tons of calories. If you drink 1 coke a day, that is an extra 20 lbs of fat a year (and most coke drinkers drink more than that). Switch to diet coke and then try to get off of that. I only drink water, low-sodium V-8 juice and the occasional alcoholic beverage. Fruit juices are OK in extreme moderation.
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