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

Archive for March, 2014

Sometimes change blows


In this journey I’ve found that while I want different and variety, it’s comforting when you have a routine. It’s nice to know things aren’t changing. That you need not worry and everything will be as it always is. When I started this journey back in late 2011, I knew changes were going to need to be made. Sometimes they were slow to progress but they were made. 

If you looked at me today versus even 4 months ago, you’d see an entirely different person. But a lot of those changes were because in some ways my life has a particular pattern or routine. It’s pretty much gym, work, home or toastmasters. There’s little else right now. Sure I’ve made changes to the routine like workout times, adding yoga or pilates, or shifting to meet commitments but for the most part things have been pretty standard. 

One of the most consistent things has been my team–the people who keep me on track. With the exception of some changes with Pilates instructors, it’s been pretty consistent. There have been subs along the way but really it’s been the same people since late November 2012. 

Starting tomorrow that changes. 

In this entire journey, I never really expected for certain people not to be there in the end. So last week when Matt Bauman told me that the next week was his last…


When I restarted this journey in late 2012, Matt was the person there that day. I’m pretty sure he thought I’d not last. That I’d throw my hands up in a week or two and quit. He’s also the person who quickly realized that I might not get it all right but I’m not a quitter and that I’d work as hard as he wanted. He’d know when I could do more and when I was hurting. He’d know when it was time to be hard on me and when it was time let me figure it out. 

Of all the people I work with, he was the one who knew me best. The one I trusted most. 

This morning was my last session with Matt. I really wanted to be on time but it seems life had different ideas. I apparently left my shoes at the club and then forgot my heart rate monitor as a result. I started 15 minutes late. 12 minutes on a treadmill, 3 rounds of battle ropes, 3 rounds of TRX, 3 rounds of weights, 3 rounds of sprints and it was over. It wasn’t me at my best. Ironic as it seemed I busted out on the treadmill better than ever this morning.

The true irony? Matt’s going to be the fitness manager of place in South Carolina that helps people with weight problems. 

People like me. 

Those people are incredibly lucky. They’re getting one of the best. I wish Matt nothing but the best–he deserves it. He’s been nothing short of awesome. That includes the texting and drama at times. Thank you.

Still, I always thought when I reached goal Matt would be right there for the weigh-in. It’s really made me rethink what those final days might look like and who will be there. Suddenly the faces and even where it happens aren’t exactly clear like they used to be. 

On Monday things will indeed change.

But one thing doesn’t: the countdown. 

It’s still there with 96 pounds left (yes, I’m down another) to go. It needs to be completed and accomplished–Matt or no Matt. 

Matt, thank you for everything and your help. I wish you nothing but the best. I’ll even root for the Vols over Michigan and I’m a big ten fan. May you experience amazing things and help as many others as you’ve helped me.

Thank you.


Sometimes change blows.


The Countdown 3/24/14

Last Week: 324

This Week: 317 (GOAL ACCOMPLISHED!!!)

Next week’s goal: 313

Magic Number to 220: 97 lbs.

Lost since Nov 2012 (561.8 lbs): 226 lbs

Lost Since Nov 2011 (561.8 lbs): 244.8 lbs

Highest ever weight recorded/known: 589 (difference of 272 lbs)


Honestly I didn’t think I’d make this week. On Sunday morning, I was 321. I kept saying it might be 320 because I had on heavier sweats. Still I was 2-3 pounds from goal. For reasons I can’t explain now, this week I needed to make it–more than any other time in a long time. Somehow I needed to be at 318 on Monday morning. 

It resulted in a maybe 1200 calorie day, 3 trips to the dry sauna, pilates, WERQ class, and 30 minutes in zones 1 and 2 for heat rate on a treadmill. And really I didn’t think I’d make it. I even woke up at 6am to run in the gym AND hit the sauna again before weigh in. 

But before I did any of it…


I should have known I’d make it. The last time I was in a scenario like this I didn’t think I’d made it that day either. Unlike the last few weeks, it was a clean week. Most of it at home. Not a lot of other aspects of life creeping in. Except that everyone’s eyes were on me this week. My trainers, bosses, family–everybody seems to be watching. I was this week’s main event under the big top that’s for sure. I wish I could explain it more but for now just know there was a lot of pressure and peering eyes. 

I can also tell you that had I missed things would been different. This blog post would have been different. Heck, this entire posting so far would make far more sense if I missed 318. 

But I didn’t. 

Still, a week like this can change a person. It became clear that less is more. A hardcore zone workout trumps 10K in steps. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe in steps but the 60-90 minute treadmill days–unless going to for endurance and distance are going to be phased out. An hour running in the pool with weights beats a treadmill any day. It’s also clear that even when I’m clean, one day–a day that wasn’t even close to being bad, can throw off everything. 

Okay enough of this talk and now to the positive…

I am now 97 pounds from goal. 

That’s two digits not three!!!!

We’ve officially hit the home stretch. Yeah the exit ramp is still pretty far but I finally see signs for my exit. 

Exit 220. 

It won’t be a milestone most will notice. My guess is the only way anyone will know is if I bring it up or see this blog. So quietly I smile and a small tear runs down my cheek. The end of journey is coming and everyday brings me closer. Closer to that number.


This week presents new challenges. It’s the last with my trainer Matt which means all new workouts, strategies come next Monday. It also means a new place to weigh in. Goodbye men’s locker room, hello main scale on the 2nd floor! Further, it’s possible this past weeks challenges and possible dangers may linger further into the next few weeks. 

It’s not going to be easy–but it never is. 

But I do know this: I’m not quitting, giving up, or going down without a fight. I’m going to win this battle and the war. 

313 for next week–book it.


The Countdown 3/17/2014

Last Week: 323

This Week: 324

Next week’s goal: 318

Magic Number to 220: 104 lbs.

Lost since Nov 2012 (561.8 lbs): 221 lbs

Lost Since Nov 2011 (561.8 lbs): 239 lbs

Highest ever weight recorded/known: 589 (difference of 265 lbs)


I was posting these regularly on Monday and the last two…late. I suppose I should be happy I was out 7 nights in a row and ended up only gaining a pound. I went places where I had no business being, ordered wisely, and walked away without my weight skyrocketing.

But it’s now going on week 4 of trying to reach 318. My trainers and team are getting nervous. Some are beginning to question my commitment level.

I can understand that. 

I could have not gone out a few nights. I could have brought my own food. Maybe exercised even more. 

But I didn’t do any of them. 

Last Friday was the 22nd anniversary of the worst day of my life. Someone I considered a friend I can no longer trust. I wasn’t wise with funds, work isn’t going well–and my bosses know it. I got into with one of them last week. Someone on my side no less. Mostly because I wouldn’t let him in with what’s going on with me. Others have noticed as well. 

People want me to strive to better or do my best and right now I just keep wondering how much more I need give. It’s almost like I’ve become a totally different person now. I keep wondering what was wrong with who I was or who I am now. Sometimes I look in the mirror and still see the same fat guy who’s always been there.

I know it’s not true but and I’ve made huge strides but I still look and see a big fat guy. I see the loose skin that sags on my body now that I’ve lost. Yesterday I thought I saw definition in my abs but really it’s covered by a layer of fat. So I get depressed looking at what I did to myself. And yet when people ask me “if I feel better now…”, I get annoyed.

Annoyed as if I was just some loser who sat on the couch all day and ate chips or something. Like I was some sort of total loser before all this. Then there’s the people who think I’m going back to being some 500+ pound guy if I don’t have structure or if I take a break. I’m a different guy now and yet they look at me like it was 16 months ago. 

I feel tired, lost, and like I’ve lost my identity. I almost want to say depressed because the last few days all I wanted to do sometimes was crawl up in a ball and not leave my bed for a while. 

And I think I can motivate people. Hell, I can’t even motivate myself right now. Inspirational my ass!

This all said, I’m not giving up. I may not have this all figured out right now but I’ve come to far. Win or lose, I’m going to keep going. Sooner or later I’m going to put the pieces together again. I’m going to figure out these answers. And call it a gut feeling but I’m pretty sure when I do, it’s all going to fall into place, and better than it ever was.

Just got to believe. 

Next week 318 and I don’t even want to know what happens if I don’t get there.


The Countdown–3/10/14

Last Week: 323

This Week: 323

Next week’s goal: 318

Magic Number to 220: 103 lbs.

Lost since Nov 2012 (561.8 lbs): 220 lbs

Lost Since Nov 2011 (561.8 lbs): 238 lbs

Highest ever weight recorded/known: 589 (difference of 266 lbs)

Steps for the week: 68,861

Average Steps per Day: 9,837


Neutral is an interesting place. I didn’t lose but I didn’t gain. Not gain is good but not losing is not. We’re now on attempt #3 to hit 318. Were there moments that were not best?

Oh yeah. 

Saturday morning there was cake and I’d been good until someone talked about cake and ice cream. At that point all my brain kept saying was “Cake, cake, cake, cake…”

Now sometimes you’re strong enough to say no. But when you’re brain is doing  “Cake, cake, cake, cake…”

Not so easy.

So I compromised. I had the icing but not the cake. I know I’d been better with the cake and not the frosting but really who wants that? 

Lately it’s been harder to say no when I’m in situations. Like a social setting and I didn’t pick the venue. Or when I walk into the lunch room and there’s a box of donuts. Or worse, you ordered right but it came wrong so they GIVE YOU the extra as bonus! 

A year ago I’d said no and kept my resolve/cool. And I did make a mistake…well, I was bigger and there was more room for errors because if I worked harder at the gym it would still come off. 

16 months later, I’m a lot smaller now. I’m also more fit. This afternoon I took a walk and didn’t even break a sweat! That wasn’t the case just 3 months ago. 

Trust me, I’m not unhappy to be smaller or more fit but suddenly a few mistakes here and a few less steps there and well….no gain, no loss. Further portion sizes are now an issue. They didn’t used to be. That takes getting used to. 

I’m my session with Miranda today, we talked about how I shouldn’t want things versus I can’t have that. That I’m feeling restricted. It’s easy to say I don’t want or need pizza but it’s totally not true. This is not to say I want pizza 24/7. But when you’ve still got 2-3 pounds to go to make goal this week and everybody else is eating pizza. That’s not I don’t need pizza, that’s I can’t have it.

But Miranda has a point. Can’t is a negative and it results in negative reactions. It results in feeling restricted. The problem? There are times I am indeed restricted. If I wish to make my goals and accomplishments it may not fall in line with having Chinese food–even if I’ve not had any in 3-4 months. 

So how do you tell your brain you don’t need that when you indeed want it but know you can’t have it right now? 

I’m going to have to really think about this one. 

This week isn’t going to be easy. I have events every weeknight this week. Events where food will be there. Things like cookies, chips, meat and cheese trays (my arch nemesis!), candy–you get the idea. Further I’m sure some will wish to go some place to eat after as well. 

I’m going to have to really be surgical and on top of this or I could be looking at a gain. Next week, 318–attempt #3.

See you on 3/17/14!

All eyes on me

Recently read someone’s blog about taking a cardio kickboxing class. Got me thinking about my early experiences with dance classes. I’ve always felt comfortable “getting my groove on”. Only when I started getting bigger and got out of shape did I stop. But when I was in North Carolina at Structure House, they had a ballroom dance class and I took it EVERY week. I did some Zumba but felt dead in about 15 minutes every time.

When I got back from North Carolina, I vowed I’d conquer Zumba. When I first started working with Matt my trainer, I told him I’d be doing Zumba. He kind of looked at me like I was nuts. A few months later, I “slipped” into the back row of the Saturday morning Zumba class. Now I say I “slipped” in but there was no slip in here.

Zumba is held in the Lifetime Fitness gym–where everyone can see. You can also see from the 2nd level. Now you might be thinking “but Jeff there’s lots of people in that class. How would anyone notice?”

That would be true…

if _ANY_of them were male.

So it’s me and oh, 70+ women doing Zumba. And if you didn’t think they noticed…well, you’d be mistaken.

They noticed.

And so did everyone else.

My trainer Matt wasn’t even in the building and 20 minutes later, I had a text about it. Other trainers were asking about in days later. Apparently a 400+ guy doing Zumba isn’t common. The first time I didn’t last long maybe 20-30 minutes. Slowly I’d work my way up. More frustrating was trying to pick up all the moves. I’d be going left and the entire room is going right. It’s not an issue except when you’re the only guy and you’re rather large in a room full of women. It’s almost sit com comedy funny to see.

The women were thrilled to have me. They liked having a guy in class. I did however take some crap and a few snickers from guys at the gym. But as I reminded them:

I’m the only guy in a room full of women wearing spandex.

So while they played with their “balls”, I spent 60 minutes with pretty ladies in their form fitting outfits. Certainly beat an hour of treadmill that’s for sure!

About the point I could get through a 60 minute class, I found WERQ. Current hits plus more pop/hip hop moves equaled dropping Zumba because I’d found my thing. If you’ve never seen it, I’d invite you to google or youtube it.

Today, I pick up WERQ twice a week. I’m still the only guy in the room 98% of the time. But I wouldn’t miss it. Best workout I get all week. All the eyes that were on me are either less now or used to seeing me there. Heck there are times where I’m more on the moves than half the women in class.

Besides, I like that all eyes are on me anyway.

The Countdown—3/3/14

Last Week: 330

This Week: 323–GOAL ACCOMPLISHED!!!!

Next week’s goal: 318

Magic Number to 220: 103 lbs.

Lost since Nov 2012 (561.8 lbs): 220 lbs

Lost Since Nov 2011 (561.8 lbs): 238 lbs

Highest ever weight recorded/known: 589 (difference of 266 lbs)

Steps for the week: 63,582

Average Steps per Day: 9,083

Welcome back to the countdown. I apologize for the delay. I find it interesting that the weeks where I accomplish goal are the bounce back weeks. I also think it’s interesting how those weeks have been 6 and 7 pound losses. And given weigh in happened on Wednesday, that’s 7 pounds lost since then not Monday.

The step numbers were low this week. This included a less than 5000 step day. It again begs the question of how hard you work versus quantity of steps. As I write this, I’m almost at 11,000 but I wouldn’t it was a hard workout–just a lot of walking. I do find that the extra walking and movement sometimes helps with thought and stress. But when I get to goal, I’m thinking more quality and less time.

I don’t know I’d say I was perfect but I was watching a little of the what, where, and when. So we’re back to before the Vegas trip. 323 with a goal of 318. I’ve noticed so far this week my intake is up some. Good quality foods but up. Going to need to watch that.

Again, we’re inches away from being under three digits from goal. We’re also 24 pounds from 299–a number I can’t recall when I saw last. My trainer Matt asked me about it this week. I think I was in high school at this weight but under 300…maybe at 14?

I think sometimes that’s where the disconnect happens. I’d daydreamed about it but actually being here is surreal. And sometimes it makes me content. And why wouldn’t I be?

And there lies the rub.

Best shape of my life but even now–not done. And that’s what’s hard. Even harder with the pats on the back and lauding what’s already come. Harder because you so want to take those moments but doing so makes you content. And right now I can’t be content.

The end is so close and yet it’s still far enough away. Frustrating.

Next week–318. We break into the teens, get closer to 299, and double digits to goal. Exciting times for the countdown.

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