MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF (June 25, 2017) --- I looked in the mirror one day and I knew that I had just lost it. My face looked slim and must have lost years. It was like I was looking at a different person entirely. I really had lost it.
Fifteen years ago, before I joined the Air Force, I was 189 pounds on a 5 foot, 5 inch Asian frame. It didn't look good, it didn't feel good. Then, I lost over fifty pounds in nine months and now that I'm at this weight I'll never let up on me again.
I'm not that much different from many folks who in High School could eat anything and everything and couldn't keep it on me. Should I blame terrible childhood and adolescent habits learned through the miracle of a youthful overcharged metabolism and plentiful candy and snacks? I guess the freedom with a summer job fueling a fast food income, eating as social events and study sessions with chips, pizza, and cheese dip piled on the pounds and I just kept going from there.
People who have struggled with weight have similar stories. But in my opinion, it doesn't matter how I got to where I was. It was a problem in my life that was making me unhappy, decreasing my self-esteem, and creating difficulties in my ability to live my life and the length that I would live it.
In a military role, when you discover a problem you're expected to fix it. I was not in the Air Force at the time, I didn't yet have the military advantage, but one day when I put on my pants, the button broke off and flew across the room hitting the wall. That was a moment of realization that led me to say, "I've got to fix this."
It's not easy to reverse habits that lead you to bad results, but I made a firm and conscious decision to take ownership and responsibility for my fitness and change. It really ended up changing my entire life.
I couldn't even make a quarter mile around the track running when I first started. I remember the mental anguish of thinking I wasn't going to make it running around the turn. Yeah, I didn't make it around the turn that time, but I didn't give up and went back the next day. Some would call that resilience learned before the military, I would call it not wanting to buy bigger pants.
After three months of cardio: running, biking, hiking, walking; I found that I would have to change my diet and my entire lifestyle. I wasn't able to gym or fitness my way into a healthiness without that sacrifice.
I went with what was then considered a controversial fad: the low-carb diet. A low-carb diet is low in carbohydrates, giving up sugar, breads and starches for natural food like meat and natural fats and vegetables. After the withdrawals I had from giving up regular sodas and strawberry pie, I found it really easy to stay on the diet when the results of fat pounds melting away from my body combined with being able to eat a virtual unlimited number of juicy grilled steaks.
When I was confident enough with my weight loss to get into the gym, I started to introduce resistance training and eventually CrossFit into my plans. I was learning to enjoy it and fitness activities were becoming the lifestyle of my style.
I attribute the first 20 pounds to pure willpower and drive that was focused on losing weight and being fit. The rest I give to the monumental change in me. I think it's true that your outsides reflect what is going on inside and I was thinking more like an athlete and contender. I found myself competing and performing better at everything that I did. It even allowed me to eventually pursue my dream of becoming an Airman.
Today, its easier for me to kindly thank someone for the birthday cake and cookies but not eat them. I now refuse to let myself defeat me in the morning even though I'm tired and don't want to run a 5K because I ran one yesterday--I still go out there. I don't let the funny stares when people see me have a second steak phase me or detract from the enjoyment of that juicy, weight maintaining, wonderful delicious steak (with extra garlic butter, yum).
I realize that I only have myself to blame if I rebound back to a more round version of me so I hold myself accountable for my fitness. I care about me and I'd miss the Airman I see in the mirror today. So yes, I did lose it, and I'm happy about it.