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

Posts tagged ‘life changes’

Score One For the Countdown

As I was cleaning out my email, I found something I’d never posted. This happened in October–a month which seemed to be all about the celebration of my weight loss. The following was sent to every employee of Lifetime Fitness. If I’ve not said it before, I’ll say it again: it’s all about the people you work with. The people of Lifetime Fitness Old Orchard are those people.

From: Jason Thunstrom
Sent: Thursday, October 16, 2014 12:35 PM
To: All Team Members
Subject: Our ‘WHY’: A journey from 589 pounds

Life Time Team:

As you know, we commit to helping people positively change their lives every day. For some, the degree of change is small. A fine tuning, so to speak. For others, however, it can be a massive overhaul. The following story from Life Time Old Orchard member, Jeff Stein, speaks for itself. Mr. Stein’s dedication to his health is both powerful and motivating. The support of our Life Time Old Orchard team was equally critical. Read on – and be inspired. This is the ‘WHY’ we do what we do!

Regards,

JT

Hi Jason,

My name is Jeff Stein. I’ve been a member of Life Time Fitness Old Orchard since Feb 2012. One of my trainers sent me a copy of an email you’d sent out to the employees, entitled “This may make you cry.” 

https://mms.ltfinc.net:443/105503000/105503290.jpg?1413309832322

In 2007, I weighed 589 pounds.

I wore a 6-7x shirt and size 74 pants.

As a child, I was overweight. At 12 or 13, I remember being over 200 pounds, 300 or more in high school, and 400+ in college. My life wasn’t horrible. I had a job, friends, and drove a car. I even played a year of college basketball. New England Division B, but still, it was college basketball. I was your average guy – just a lot bigger.

I can’t remember a time I was not referred to as fat. I couldn’t get into booths at restaurants. I had a chair or two break under my weight. One was in my boss’s office. I even missed out on an incredible free trip to Las Vegas and a major speaking opportunity because I was worried I wouldn’t fit in an airplane seat.

In November 2012, I set out on an ambitious weight loss program with the help of Jeremy Survoy, Miranda Willetts and Matt Bauman. It as a week before Thanksgiving and, at 543 pounds, I set out to change my life.

Fast forward to today and my life is different. A LOT DIFFERENT.

I weigh in at 325 pounds. That’s 264 pounds fewer than my days at 589. I’m wearing 2XL shirts and size 48 pants. 

In February 2014, I boarded a plane for the first time in over 20 years, no longer worried if I’d fit in the seat. The day I got to Vegas, I walked more than 30,000 steps! 

A day I’m not at Life Time is rare. I workout 7 days a week – sometimes twice a day. On top of four training and nutrition sessions, I participate in Pilates, WERQ, water fitness, and yoga. I wear a Fitbit and average 10,000 steps a day. As a member of Life Time Fitness Old Orchard, I’ve won the club’s 90-day weight loss challenge – TWICE. Many people in the club remember the day I walked in at 543. People I’ve never met ask me about it daily. My trainers tell me I’m asked and talked about even when not in the building.

My goal weight is 220 pounds. When I reach it, I will have lost 369 pounds from the 589 I once weighed. 

While I still have a little ways to go in accomplishing my goal, I’ve started to talk about it. I do this because I think it’s important people know what they can accomplish. That it’s not about pills or surgery. I want inspire and help others toward their goals, dreams, and a healthy lifestyle.

Life Time has been a huge part of these accomplishments and this journey.

Best Regards,

Jeff Stein

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Let’s try that again shall we…

I wrote a blog post about it being “go time” and how we’re going to do better yesterday. How it’s going to be different.

And then I went to the Marianno’s hot food bar and grabbed mac and cheese.

And Chinese food.

And honey chicken wings.

Did I mention the potato pancakes?

Yeah, it went different all right.

I’d love to tell you it went better today but the trip to Wendy’s for what was supposed to be just ice coffee turned into a sausage biscuit, homestyle fries, and oh yeah and ice coffee.

Yeah I’m going all right–right to another 5-6 pounds!

What was I thinking…

About how my trainer, who I love to death, got on me about the 13 pounds I gained last week.

How my overloaded carbbed ass felt running around the track.

Like everybody keeps looking at my like a giant train wreck.

Why is it so f’n cold outside?

Why family members who know I’m struggling don’t realize that their meddling makes it worse.

When that nagging butt injury is going away. (Actually it’s between my butt and my hip. Butt just sounded funnier)

Credit Card Debt

Bills

Work

And of course, how I seem to have hit EPIC FAIL in a 7 month period.

I know I can do this. I’ve done it twice now. Once in North Carolina and when I got home. I know what I need to do. It would be easier if the fire and passion were there right now.

They’re not.

And that makes it a lot harder.

It means sacrifices will need to be made. For a while, I could go to any restaurant and make great choices. That’s not happening now. Much it means I’ll not be able to socialize with friends, I’m going to have to say no. They’ll understand but as I’m a pretty social person, it’s going to just about kill me.

It means no fast food period. I’d kicked it for almost a year. I believed I could handle rare occasions. That’s no longer the case. So tonight when I head home the hardest battle begins. The one in which I pass dozens of fast food joints trying to stay strong and not end up in one’s drive thru.

It means watching the portion sizes and the carbs. I love carbs. Warm bread/rolls is a guilty pleasure. But since I’ll be dropping my restaurant eating, I’m hoping this won’t be as much as of an issue. The portion sizes will be an issue though. I’ve noticed they’ve gotten larger. I think it happened when I was working out more. At one point I was doing twice a day three times a week plus one session everyday or 10,000 steps. I mistook the worn down feeling as needing more energy from food when I probably needed a multi-vitamin and fish oil.

Most of all, I need to find a therapist. I’ve resisted a for a while now. I have two great ones in North Carolina but our schedules don’t work and I need someone in Chicago. I’ve also resisted because for years I would bitch, moan, and complain to one. I felt better for a few minutes but I didn’t make changes nor could I get myself to.

All that the changes in my life have come because I stopped talking about and started doing something about it. So going back to a therapist right now makes me wonder is this really going to do anything for me right now? Or will I just end up like I used to be and not taking action?

I already know the answer because the stress is just making things rougher. I need to find a healthy outlet or no matter what happens, I’ll burn out like this again.

The good news? I’m aware of all this. I know what I need to do. I also know I can do it so it’s not a lack of confidence. I also know I have a lot of people behind me.

I promised myself this was a new day. The last two have not been those days. That changes the minute I finish this post. I will not give up. I am not going to quit. I’m going to keep going. And I will not stop until I get it right and back on track.

So let’s try again shall we?

Today is a new day.

You’re doing great!

This morning, I got on the scale.

353.8

Not bad since I had pecan pie and a 7 oz fillet last night.

(Note to all the food police: Yes, I should not be eating pecan pie. So noted and stipulated. Thank you.)

As I thanked god and creation, I got off the scale in the locker room. That’s when someone said it:

“You’re doing great! Keep going!”

Ever since the winter of 2013, this is a regular happening at Lifetime Fitness Old Orchard. As I’ve mentioned previously, I went from sideshow to rock star. There were days when I couldn’t get through a workout without being stopped. My trainers get asked about me when I’m not in the building.

As Ron Burgundy once said, I’m kind of a big deal. People know me. And for the most part, I enjoy it.  It’s nice to walk in the building like I’m Norm from Cheers. Especially when most of my life I dreaded going to the gym–a place of the pretty and buff–two things I’m not.

Now when someone wishes to compliment me and things are going well, it’s a polite thank you and try to be humble (somewhere my true friends are laughing at that). Usually that includes a comment like…”well, I appreciate that but I’m not finished yet”. And I’m not. I’m 133 pounds away as of this morning.

But on the days when the scale isn’t my friend…well, it’s a lot heard feel good about those words.  Especially when you know if you didn’t stop at Culver’s for a Concrete Mixer frozen custard with cookie dough, peanut butter cups, and peanut butter syrup things would gone much better.  So when a well meaning person says those nice words, my inner loser knows better and get squirely.

Now in the past, I was losing more. That meant this wasn’t an issue. But as I mentioned previously, in April of 2014 I was at 307. I was closing in on 300. I was 87 pounds from goal.

After Thanksgiving I was at 360. For those not wanting to do the math, that’s a gain of 53 pounds since then. So when well meaning individuals would walk up to me these last few months and say…

“Hey, you’re doing great!”

ARGH…

I AM NOT DOING GREAT! I JUST GAINED AGAIN AND ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT IS CHEESEBURGERS WITH BACON! THINGS ARE NOT GREAT! I’VE GAINED A SHITLOAD OF WEIGHT AND I TOTALLY SUCK!

That’s what I want to say. What do I usually say?

“Thank you.”

And then the worst feel in the world happens. The one where I look at myself in the mirror and my mind is thinking only one thing.

FRAUD.

Yes, I should look at the big picture but when 1 pound becomes 5 and 5 becomes 15…well, it’s not so easy.  You know that right now, a pat on the back or high five is the last thing in the world you deserve. Then comes the fun part. You feel guilt. In my case guilt leads to stress. What do I do when I’m stressed?

You guessed it–I eat.

All because someone tried to be nice and my mind twisted it into something else entirely. The last few months, I’ve allowed myself to say and think horrible things about myself. But I also know this. I don’t want to go back to who and what I used to be either.

There is no question I am my own worst enemy. Everyday I’ll need to remember to stay positive and not give up. That when somebody says “you’re doing great” it’s a reason smile and stand proud even if the night before you had too many carbs and the scale says your up.

I may feel like a fraud at times but the truth is I’m stronger, faster, and healthier than any point in my life. If I just continue to believe in myself, I will figure it out. I will lose the weight. I will reach my goal.

He was right: I am doing great.

Four Guys On A Bench Revisited

One of the first posts, I ever wrote was about 4 guys on a bench. If I was tech savvy, I’d have a way to link it to this post. but I’m not so please feel free to search it out.

Many of my regular workouts the past couple years happen in the gym.  I would see these four men and other racquetball players most mornings. The Lifetime Fitness used to have it’s cycle room, rock wall, and racquetball courts next to it’s basketball courts.

Notice I said use to.

At the end of May, Lifetime Fitness Old Orchard decided to make a brand new yoga studio (yay!)–right where the racquetball courts were (boo!). While I’m happy there’s a new yoga studio, I was disappointed it would mean these people–the people who’d watch me melt away, would no longer have their place to play.

So in mid June of 2014, the courts were closed, the benches removed, and my biggest fans were now gone. After the yoga studios opened, the gym was a lot more quiet. There’s an occasional basketball player but otherwise…quiet.

Before they left, I got the email for one of them. They’ve been bouncing around between LA Fitness locations. In the first email, I sent him the post I’d wrote about Four Guys On a Bench. I told him how much I appreciated him that day and how that made a difference.

At the time I sent him the link, I wasn’t writing any more. A few weeks later, I got a note about a comment posted. It was one of the wives of those players. She’d been inspired by my post and was going to work towards weight loss.

I recently was emailing with them and asked them what they were thinking that day. His response?

When I saw you working out the first time I knew you had an uphill battle that wasn’t going to be easy. I knew that you needed all the encouragement you could get. I think the average guy would say keep trying and that was the end of it.

 I think I told you I had a lot of ups and downs in my lifetime and these guys I hang with are terrific. They can make you laugh at the drop of a hat. Laughter is the best medicine I know. We started teasing you in hopes you would take it the right way and you obviously did.  It’s an easy way to break the ice and laughter can be contagious. I know we had Miranda & Matt laughing a lot with all of us.  

 You take care of yourself and keep plugging away. We’ll get together when you reach your goal next year.”

He was right. At that moment I was tired, exhausted, and seconds from giving up. Seconds from throwing it all away.

Two years later, when the scale keeps going up and I get frustrated, I think back to that moment at the gym. That’s when I remember the most important thing I’ve learned:

NEVER GIVE UP!

We will all have our ups and downs. Our successes and failures, it’s where we go next that determines our course in life.

239 days ago, I was at 307 pounds. Today…355. But I know I get back there. I know because even when the numbers on the scale go up, I know I can do it. I won’t give up. It may take weeks, months, or years but I will get there. I will lose 135 pounds. I will get to 220 pounds.

Because I know I can.

Time’s passed and sometimes I wonder if anyone remembers there used to be racquetball courts or the players who’d come in the early morning to use them. Then I remember it does matter because I do.

I remember.

And that’s all that matters.

Can’t wait to see them next year when I reach my goal.

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.

 

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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