From 589 pounds to 220 pounds. This is my journey. Welcome to the countdown.

Archive for December, 2013

Rethink, Regroup, Relax

We head into the weekend before New Year’s and I’m ready for some down time. An entire 4-5 days away from everything is a blessing and a curse. This is usually when I balloon. Last time I gained 10 pounds in a week’s time. So here’s what I know:

Today I weighed in at 344 (grrr…damn 340 blues again). By 1/6/14 I need to be at 335. Somehow on vacation, I’m going to need to figure out a way to drop almost 10 or more. Alas this time I have a plan. I took a suite with a fridge and a microwave. There’s a Whole Foods ten minutes away. There’s also a Lifetime Fitness within 10 minutes of me. I also took my headphones with because the hotel is mapped out like one big square–perfect for walking.

The real challenge: friends and a party atmosphere.

Yes, a good majority of my friends know and will be helpful. Doesn’t mean they won’t be eating pizza or drinking beer though either. There’s only so much willpower when a bag of chips has been staring you in the face for the last 4 hours. And that’s why it’s clear I’ll need to build a few rewards too. It might not be pizza but a steak dinner will do. It’s also clear I’ll need to really make sure I do some sort of exercise–even if it’s walking the hotel.

The goals are clear. The means to them are as well. Once again it’ll come down to execution. Sure I’ll nail down the majority of this but in those moments–the little ones–the ones which decide between success and failure–those I need to win if I have any hope of succeeding. I’d say here’s hoping but that means I won’t make it–so here’s to making it.

See you in the New Year.


What a difference a year makes!

In looking through old emails, I found this from 10/23/12. Looking back on it now, I can laugh but chances are all of us have been in a situation like this so I thought I’d share.

It’s almost a year to when I left for North Carolina. I went because I wanted to make changes.
And now a year later, I wonder if things are better or worse. I’m over 500 pounds. Last I saw was 519lbs but that was in the summer. At one point, I was down to 478.
I seem to serve everyone but me. And in true ironic fashion, those I serve’s efforts are those which would be for my better.
In July, I told my bosses I was leaving in November to come back to NC. Instead they presented me with pay raise that could pay me high 5 figures to lower 6 figures in the next 12 months. They asked I hold until Jan 2013. So my days typically start at 5-6am at a trainer who by the time it’s over, I’m deader than a doornail. I then rush home to throw down food, shower, change, and then zoom to work by 8:30am/asap. I then if I’m lucky get out by 6–more like 6:30pm.
And then it’s to home.
Yeah, this was the last thing I wanted a year later.
Still stuck at the house with my parents. It wasn’t supposed to go this way. I was supposed to move in with my Grandmother. That was delayed and then she died. I should started looking but there was this lingering thought about returning to Structure House for an extended stay. And by July, I thought I was going…and then…well you know what happened with my bosses. The result? I’m in a house in which politics and games get played.
I also found out something else: when the money is gone, so is the help. By June I found myself behind on bills. It’s amazing how support and help disappear when there’s no check or a credit card payment to be made. So I found myself alone taking help from anyone and everyone–most who had their own ideas and agendas. Alone at the time I needed the most help. I reached out to a few who I thought were the people who’d be my help and support but they seemed to suddenly have disappeared as well.
So there I was–broke, stuck, plans backfiring, and no support. Is it any wonder I’d end up in the only one place for the peace I crave: my car.
A notrious place of habit filled binge/stress eating. Was it any wonder in trying to find a calm, quiet, peaceful, happy place that suddenly ended up my car that fast food would once again return to my life? It shouldn’t have been. It wasn’t an immediate stuff my face. No, far more sinister. It started with my thoughts I could control it and that “I was doing that”. Soon I just didn’t care. I kept saying “eh, I’ll recover and we’ll get back on track” but truth is I didn’t have an interest in it. In returning home, I also found a 2nd problem: I was unsatisfied with just about everything in my life and had no clue what to do about it or change.
So here I am–stuck at the fork in the road with map in Korean and no universal translator.
It leads to the big question:
Go back to Durham and Structure House or stay the course.
If I could ever seem to determine the answer, it would make my life a lot easier.
Going means I probably won’t keep my job. But it gets me away from everything and allows me to start fresh. Maybe even permanently move there for a while. Staying means, I need to find a place of my own like 5 minutes ago and start pushing the scale back in the right direction. It also means I’m committed to being in Chicago–something I’ve not been sure I wish to be. There’s a part of me that thinks if I could make the kind of money they claim and save, in 1-2 years I could walk away, head for NC, and never look back for a while. But then I remember I’m 40. And at this weight, I might not have 1-2 years.
So that’s what’s been going on. Wish I could say it was better.


Who I used to be

I was just like everybody else. I didn’t have time to prep food, I wanted it fast, and I wanted it cheap. Here’s what a typical day might look like.

Breakfast–McDonalds: Steak and Egg bagel (minus the egg); Hash Browns x 2; Cinnamon Melt; Vanilla Sugar Free Ice Coffee

Total Calories: 1430

Lunch–Wendy’s: Baconator; Double Stacks x 2; Large Fries; Large All Natural Lemonade

Total for the meal: 2640

Before I even had dinner, I had consumed 4070 calories. One pound is 3500 calories. By lunch time, I was already up one.

This didn’t include something like Gatorade. FYI a 32 oz bottle is 240 calories. I’d consume like 4-5 a day. That’s another 1000-1200 calories. Or snacking between meals–probably at something like Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Burger King–you get the idea. And we’ve not talked about my penchant for margaritas by the pitcher or Jack Daniels. Best guess on average I probably consumed between 5000 and 10,000 calories a day.

And exercise? My idea of exercise was a 12 ounce curl and the walk to and from the bathroom. Strenuous exercise was walking around the supermarket.

Is it any wonder how I ended up at 589 pounds at my worst?

Yes, that was me, Jeff Stein. The man I used to be.

If you’ve read the previous blog postings, you’ll know life is a little different now. I traded a baconator for a turkey burger with no cheese or a bun. Got rid of the fries for grilled asparagus. The “natural” lemonade for smartwater.

You get the idea.

I wish I could tell you the days of fast food and garbage food are over for me. Truth is they’ll never be over. There will always be a part of me that sees an ad on TV and drools. I’ll see some deal of 2 for $5 burger/sandwich and want to run over and buy $10 worth. This will always be a problem and issue. I like food. I like food a lot.  but I know and as GI Joe used to say–knowing is half the battle.

598 pounds.

That used to be me.

But not any more.


The 340 blues

A week before Thankgiving, I was at 342. I had lost 200 pounds in less than a year’s time. I was thrilled and wanted to tell the whole world.

That was 6 weeks ago. Today–343.


The last 6 weeks or more, I’ve bounced from 340 up to 347. This past Monday I’d gotten down to 337-339 and then…back to 341!

To say I’m frustrated would be an understatement.

Now some weeks it was deserved. You can’t go scarf down two taco bell burritos and eat potato chips with reckless abandon and not expect the scale to be unkind. But when you’ve gone out of your way to wake up early to work out, reach 10,000 steps, go out of your way to Whole Foods to pick up the right stuff and you still gain 3 pounds?

Those are the moments when you’re ready to just find the nearest pizza place with good deep dish and demolish something you know you’ll regret later.

In three-four weeks, I’ll look back at this and laugh. But if I could have keep going at pace, I’d be closer to 300. Instead I’ll start 2014 with about 120 to go when I could been at 80-100.

Yes, I realize that’s nothing to sneeze at. 200 pounds in a year’s time? Some people can’t lose that in a lifetime. I understand–I get it. But here’s what you don’t get–I’m not done. I have 120 more I need to get rid of.

That’s a million more steps, almost a thousand hours, and dozens instances where I’ll be wanting a bacon cheeseburger with fries and have to tell myself–no, we can’t do that now. Where everyone else will be having pizza and I’ll be eating a salad.

It’s clear now that the last 120 will be harder than the first 120. That it will take even more steps and determination than ever. That the effort will need to be supreme and to achieve my goals, I’ll need to step it up yet another notch.

Maybe that’s what the 340 blues are really about. That I was simply not ready to put in the effort needed to take that next step. In the past this would be where things fall apart. I’d go on some binge, gobble 3000-4000 calories in one sitting, get annoyed with myself and then go do it again.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember I’m not that guy anymore. That it’s a new time, day, and place. 2014 is coming and those last 120 pounds are leaving. And the time to start isn’t later–it’s now.

Today, 12/26/13, I was 343. Tomorrow I will be less as well the day after. And that will be the end of the 340 blues.

The countdown begins–NOW!

My name is Jeff Stein and at age 38 it was clear I wasn’t happy with my life. I was over 500 pounds–closer to 600, at a job I hated, and waiting for something to change.

That something was me.

I could lay blame and point fingers but in the end, I allowed myself to get to a point where I couldn’t take an airline flight because I didn’t know if I’d fit bathroom let alone an airplane seat. There wasn’t a fast food drive thru I didn’t like. Hell, some fast food workers knew me on a first name basis!

That was my life.

In spring of 2011, I had a cellulitis attack which was compounded by weight. I spent 2 weeks in a hospital and 4 in a rehab facility. I knew then things had gone too far. That I needed to make a change. In November of 2011, I went to Structure House in Durham, NC. I stayed for 3 months and dropped 80 pounds.

And then I came home and proceeded to hit every bump in the road along the way. By November 2012, I’d gained back 60 of the 80 that I’d lost. The week of Thanksgiving 2012, I weighed 543 pounds.

What a difference a year makes.

Today (12/23/13), I weighed in at 337lbs. For those math challenged like me, that’s 206lbs. There wasn’t a surgery–just hard work, a ton of sweat, and a need for willpower.

This blog will be what documents the good, bad, and ugly of the next leg of this journey: 220 pounds. As of today that’s 117 pounds away. It’ll also look back other aspects of where I am today. And it will probably once in a while be a place I can talk about others things as well.

I have no idea if anyone will read or see this post let alone those to come. But I’ll try to keep it entertaining. But for now, welcome to the countdown because it begins…


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