Ever since my time in Navy, I have always been a “big boy.” But, this was out of control. At 300 pounds, I was staring down some serious health issues. It was time for a change.

When I was campaigning for the Statehouse, I was a "portly" 300 pounds. I was also unhealthy.

When I was campaigning for the Statehouse, I was a “portly” 300 pounds. I was also unhealthy.

During my first couple years on active duty, I went from my super skinny high school weight to a lean and fit 225. And boy was I fit. I scored excellent on PFTs. I was running 3-5 miles a day. I did fully inverted sit-ups for fun. I was basically paid to work out twice a day and I did my job well.

And then in October of 1998, I almost lost my left leg in an accident. I spent six months in a wheelchair or on crutches. I eventually went back to full duty in the Navy, but I was never REALLY back to full physical activity. I allowed the injured me to convince myself that I couldn’t be physically active.

When I left the Navy, I weighed around 250.

Then, I opened a photography studio and over the course of a couple of years, ballooned up to just over 300 pounds.

I left Georgia in 2007 and took a job where I wasn’t as sedentary. Just getting off my ass shredded 30 pounds and I held that weight until my third year in school. Once I started my major, I went back to being sedentary. I would spend hours on end in a lab sitting in one seat. Two years of that and I’m back up to 300+ pounds.

I’ve been thinking for a while about finding some way to exercise and quit being a fatass, but I always made excuses. I was affectionately known as “Big Mike” by many. It was just who I was. I figured as long as I was healthy what did it matter.

My best friend nearly died from a heart attack, but I wrote that off to his unhealthy lifestyle combined with a predisposition to artery blockage. I didn’t live that kind of life. My family also didn’t have a history of heart disease.

A XXL shirt could barely contain my excess weight.

A XXL shirt could barely contain my excess weight.

I was healthy, right?

I just had a health screen for work. My BP was 147/90. I was pre-diabetic. I had high cholesterol.

Two flights of stairs left me winded. I couldn’t play with my nieces and nephews like I used to. I wasn’t the partner I wanted to be.

I wasn’t healthy.

There was a time when I would run a couple of miles on the beach for shits and giggles and would do one-armed pushups to show off. Where was he at? What kind of shape would I be in when I finally fathered children and would I be able to be active with them in ten years?

I had every motivation to do it. I just needed to start. And that was the hardest part.

Then, I was home for Christmas and my brother, who has two children, is pursuing a JD, working full-time, and struggling through a back injury went for a run and I thought to myself, “What’s my fucking excuse?”

When I got back to Ohio that next day, I went for a run. It was exactly as I thought. I was sore for two days. High impact work wasn’t for me.

I started using an elliptical in my complex’s fitness center. I bought a pair of Jabra headphones with integrated HR monitor. I started watching my HR and HR recovery while I was working out and began seeing results. This motivated me. After a while what used to be a struggle for 30 minutes became not wanting to leave after 45.

I also began to eat cleaner, nearly completely cutting out processed foods and watching my sodium intake. The American Heart Association recommended cutting my sodium intake to 1500mg or less. Since pretty much every processed food known to man is preserved with salt, I began eating fresh veggies and lean meats, chicken, and fish. I didn’t realize it, but I was cutting out the biggest culprit to my obesity and lack of health, refined, processed carbohydrates.

In just under two months, my blood pressure got down to 137/78. My resting pulse was 72 BPM down from the mid-90s. My heart rate recovery improved from mid 20s to high 30s. I was also down nearly 30 pounds from the 297 I started at.

My progress froze. Now, my results to this point were nothing to shake a stick at. But, my blood pressure was still elevated, and I wasn’t at a weight where I previously felt good about myself. I didn’t know what to do. I needed help.

I didn’t want to go to a random stranger, even if that stranger worked at the gym I just joined as a certified trainer. I didn’t want to join some cult-like program and be “one of those guys.” I know people who’ve seen some results using those two options, but they weren’t for me.

I reached out to and confided in a friend of mine. We’ve known each other “virtually” for a couple of years, but rarely got the chance to meet in person. I intended to ask him for a referral and instead, I just asked him for help. I figured he’s got to know a thing or two. He’s a pro MMA fighter, for crying out loud.

And boy did he!

He introduced me to the concept of macros. He introduced me to a protocol called Tabata. He reminded me the only thing between where I was and where I wanted to be was my mind.

My progress took a while to get off the plateau, but when it did, it screamed. After only two months of Christopher Curtis’ help and four months after I started my journey, I corrected my health problems. My blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol all returned to normal.

The jeans and belt have a little more room in them now that I've lost 50 pounds.

The jeans and belt have a little more room in them now that I’ve lost 50 pounds.

And now, six months later, I crossed a milestone that I initially thought was a little too lofty. I am down 60 pounds from my heaviest and 50 pounds since the beginning of the year. And I feel great!

Although Chris did a lot of work coaching and helping me drill down a plan that worked, there were loads of other folks who helped guide and motivate me as well. My three brothers and best friend played a very large part in both their examples and encouragement. Johnny Carmona and Jeremy Loper reminded me what I used to be and what I could be again. Shelly Cannon, a world-class power lifter and fitness model, reminded me that we can draw motivation from even the most unlikely sources when she said my work inspired her to be better. And my Uncle, once a bastion of physical fitness, got right back up after a life altering stroke fighting like a dog.

Although, I feel like I’m in better shape than when I got out of the Navy, I’ve still got some goals I want to achieve. I want to be that fit badass again. I may never run again like I did before, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do other things.

And do them I will.

In upcoming posts, I’ll talk about what works for me and the struggles I face. I’ll talk about diet. I’ll talk about exercise. I’m not some expert and my results may or may not be typical. But what I did worked and you can find something that works for you too.

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