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

Posts tagged ‘weight loss’

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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Recap–1/26/15 (Week 3)

This was a make or break week. After last week’s two pound gain, I was at 369. The brief weight loss could be a facade or we could be on track.

I made myself some promises last week. Here’s how I did:

*I got to the gym more. It wasn’t exactly on time but I got there. I also did both WERQ dance classes–even if I was 30 minutes late for Thursday. But other than Saturday, I got to the gym everyday and twice on Monday and Thursday.

*I started using the Lifetime “to go” meals. I need to get in regular habit of ordering in advance. The result was a couple of days where I went to Whole Foods instead. That’d be fine but some of those days I could made better choices. I also need to watch the portion sizes there. And samples, much I hate to say it, count. I would put my usage at about 3 of the 5 work days.

*Supplements and Vitamins all week. Not one miss. I’m not a big on this stuff but I’ve felt the difference when I’ve overworked myself or when I move.

I wasn’t perfect–but I wasn’t bad either. I just wouldn’t say I was good. I did okay might be best. On Friday I was still hovering around 369-370. But I was a little more careful over the weekend. The combined with an evening of West Coast Swing dancing, a WERQ dance class, and yoga made all the difference.

This morning’s weight: 360.6.

For those playing at home, that’s 9 pounds. Since 1/5/15, when I restarted, I’ve dropped 17 pounds in 3 weeks. I’m thrilled by this because the glass is still half full in terms of what I can tweak and work on. It’s later on when real cuts and sacrifices are going to have to be made that I expect trouble. But for now I’m happy there’s room to improve and grow.

Looking ahead, this week is not going to be easy. Monday and Thursday nights I’ll be doing WERQ Fitness. Tuesday night I’m presenting on behalf of Toastmasters. Wednesday night I have a Toastmasters’ meeting. Friday night I’m supposed to go out on a date. And Sunday is the Super Bowl–a notorious eating day.

That means a lot of my dinners are going to be “on the run”, “to go”, or at a restaurant. It is a week like this that can send you a wrong direction. Normally on Monday and Thursday nights I’ll eat in the Lifecafe then dry sauna. This week, I’m thinking finish my workout, head home, and eat there. Tuesday night looks like eat in advance and/or bring a snack.

This brings me to Wednesday. I’d really like to with friends that night. And I can if I make good choices and do well early in the week. Still not sure where I’m going on Friday. Sunday…I think I’ll be okay if I bring my own food. I’ll probably still eat too much but as long as the quality is better and I’ve done what I need to it should be okay.

Along with the previous goals, the following are new ones I’m adding:

*No more community food from the Kitchen.

This is going to be hard.The kitchen is where I store my food and water for the day. It’s also where people drop “free” goodies for the rest the office. Once in a while it’s nuts–which is better but usually…cookies, cakes, donuts–you get the idea. Even with resolve and willpower, there’s only so much you can do. Given I’m a stress eater that can also play in. I’m going to need to find healthier options I can store and not feel like I’m missing something. What that is has yet to be determined. Still, if I don’t make this a goal in writing, I’ll put this off so now it’s here.

*No more special peanut butter cups.

Don’t ask me why but I see those peanut butter cups–the ones shaped like xmas trees, pumpkins, hearts, etc and seem to want them. The regular peanut butter cups I can seemingly resist most of the time. But these…these are the ones that kill me. It’d be different if it was one a week. But when you sell them 3 for $2—you’ve suddenly eaten enough calories where I could have had a steak! It’s not effected me so far but it will later on. Much as I love these things, I have to nip it in the bud.

Okay those goals are harder than the previous ones. Combined with last week’s goals, it should give me enough to work on. I’d hoped to have dropped 20 pounds this month. I’m 3 away from doing just that. The rest is all gravy.

Still, we have a long way to go. I’m 140 pounds from goal and just last May I was at 306–a number I’m now 54 pounds away from. The good news is I’ve traveled this road. I’ve done this once and I know what it takes to do it again. But to get to uncharted territory, I need to make changes in my habits now or I’ll once again find myself going the wrong direction.

What I do today will effect tomorrow. Can’t wait to see what tomorrow looks like.

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.

Hey Remember me?

Forgive me father have sinned.

It’s been 239 days since my last posting. The last time y’all heard from me I was closing in on a milestone–being under 300 pounds.

I’d love to tell you I made my goal and I’m at 220 pounds. That I just got busy and lacked time to post is all.

This morning I tipped the scales at 355 or 48 pounds heavier than my last posting here. A lot has happened since my last post. In the first year I was able to shut a lot of the demons and issues out. But they were still there. They found new ways to manifest.

I also began to deal with identity issues. I’d have people walk up telling me “how they feared for me” or things they’d noticed.

Things they never bothered to tell me….until now. The line that killed me the most: “your life must be so much better now!”

It made me ask the following question–what was wrong with the old me? I was a pretty good guy–I think. Did everyone I know around me perceive me as some giant, fat, ass loser ticking time bomb?

Another hurdle has been that 300 number. Twice I’ve pushed forward gotten close only to end up 20 or more pounds away within 7-14 days. The first time it happened, I shook it off. The 2nd time, it lingered. Recently I came back from Structure House in October at 339 and poised to make a run at 300. I’m now 16 pounds heavier.

And while I appreciated all the concern and support from friends, family, co-workers, trainers, and all those in my corner; I needed to sort this out and find answers…on my own. I shut out a lot of people and still am at points.

But one of the bigger mistakes I made was not continuing to write. It’s so easy to write when things are going well. But I promised myself even when times were tough I’d continue to write.

I didn’t.

And the person I hurt most doing so was myself. If I’d done so, I might be in a better place. I also might been able to help others who like me were struggling.

There’s a lot more to write about the past 239 days. I’m not sure when or how much I’ll talk about. I also don’t know when I’ll write again. But I do know this:

I will write again. I also know the countdown isn’t over. I’m 135 pounds from my 220 goal and I will get there. It might not be tomorrow, next week, or next year but I will reach my goal.

I write soon and not in another 239 days.

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.

 

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