Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Guest Post: The Tipping Point

After hearing a little about Chris Cole's amazing weight loss story during the Fox19 segment we were in together I invited him to share more about his journey here on Cincinnati Losers.  I think you'll agree it's pretty inspirational. 
- Shannan

Hello fellow losers. My name is Chris Cole and I am finally doing it. I began my journey to good health on Nov. 9 and have lost 63 pounds. Shannan has asked that I share my experience here on Cincinnati Losers and I’m more than happy to do so.

People have asked me why this latest effort has been different. Why is this working when so many earlier attempts failed?

Well, first of all I had moment. I think for all of us, that moment when you really turn the corner and begin to make sustainable changes cannot be predicted or easily explained. Sure, it may come after some traumatic medical event or it may be a person’s last choice and last chance. But for most, there just comes a time where you are no longer willing to accept living with the weight. And it doesn’t feel all that different from prior times when you committed to finally getting in shape (only to give up after a few months or a few days or a few minutes). It’s really only in hindsight that you see – that was the moment; that was when everything changed.

For me, that moment came on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009, at 10:14 a.m. I hopped onto Facebook that morning and saw that a co-worker had challenged a mutual friend to a 20-pound weight-loss challenge. Sounded fun, so we made our own 40-pound bet. We weighed in Nov. 9 and I began my journey at 370 pounds, easily the heaviest I’d ever been.

I started slow, going to the gym two or three days a week and doing what little I could. Looking back, it wasn’t much. But I began to make healthier food choices and I kept with the workouts. And I posted everything on Facebook – every workout, every weigh-in, every small victory and every minor setback. I put it all out there for my whole world to see. I also discovered a great little iPhone app called “Lose-It!” which helps you count calories. I started seeing a nutritionist through Northern Kentucky University (where I work) and, with her guidance, began to focus on calories, fiber and sodium. For me, if I try to worry about anything more than that, it just gets overwhelming.

The pounds started to come off. On Dec. 1, I’d lost 12. By Jan. 1, I was up to 27. Along the way, as I approached the finish line in the 40-pound challenge, others stepped forward and made challenges of their own. At one point, I was in two 40-pound challenges, a 20-pound challenge, and a 6-pound challenge. Well I won that original competition in mid-January (my reward was getting to control the loser’s Facebook page for a day). Soon after, I won the 6-pound challenge and a few weeks later I won the 20-pound challenge.

Today, after 14 weeks, I’m down 63 pounds. That’s 4.5 pounds per week for three months. I’m about 12 pounds away from winning my second 40-pound challenge (the challenges overlap). When I win this one, the loser has to shave his head. J

I can’t say exactly what it is that makes this time different; all I can do is spout out that same tired cliche you’ve all heard a thousand times before – it’s a lifestyle change. I didn’t know what that meant until about month into this journey. But now I no longer agonize over unhealthy snacks or midnight cravings. My kitchen is full of fruits and vegetables and Healthy Choice meals. I’ve not taken a drink of anything but water and 1% milk since November, and I drink about 140 ounces of water every day. As importantly, I no longer think of the gym as punishment for a lifetime of bad decisions, but rather as an opportunity – a gateway – to a lifetime of good health and limitless possibilities.

I’ve got a long way to go. I’m at 307 pounds now and my goal weight is 185. I’ll get there. I’m 100% sure of that. There are three things that give me such confidence.

The first is Facebook. It is the perfect weight-loss companion, no matter what type of diet you’re on. It allows for instant feedback/encouragement/motivation, and if you’re willing to put yourself out there as I have, it holds you accountable for every decision you make. When you’ve had a long day and don’t want to go to the gym, your Facebook friends will know that you’re blowing it off. And they’ll know when you have a bad weigh-in. No more hiding.

The second is the challenges. I’m a very competitive person and if it’s within my power I will not allow others to defeat me. When I’m at the gym and I’m tired after a good workout, thinking about how nice it will feel to settle into the massaging recliner at home, I think about my opponent(s). I convince myself that they are somewhere at that very moment doing P90X or rocking an elliptical. And I push on. Burn 50 more calories…OK, now just 50 more. The challenges won’t stop until I reach 185.

Finally, I’m confident because for the first time in my life I’m starting to understand the science of weight loss. For me, losing weight was always sort of a magical mystery. You ate less, you exercised and your body eventually began to shrink. There was no rhyme or reason. Now I know that weight loss is a science. Want to lose one pound? Easy – burn 3,500 more calories than you consume. Want to lose 185 pounds (my goal), burn 647,500 more calories than you consume over however long it takes. It’s pretty much that simple.

At the end of the day, when people ask me specifically how I’m doing it, I tell them this – I consume between 900 and 1,200 calories per day and I burn on average about 500 calories every single day at the gym. My nutritionist would like to see me consume a little more, but we both agree that as long as the weight is coming off and my body isn’t telling me otherwise, what I’m doing is working quite well. And I feel fantastic. I have more energy – even after two hours at the gym – than I ever had before. My knees no longer ache and I no longer need a nap every evening.

Yep, life is good.

Starting Weight – 370
Current Weight - 307


RoseMamie said...

Your story inspired me to get back on the band wagon today. I've been only semi-committed lately..doing better but not great and not as well as I know I am ABLE to do. Thank you for sharing your story!

Amy in Ohio said...

Wow Chris - this is amazing! Come back often and keep us posted.

You are inspiring me!

Chris said...

I'll tell you, nothing inspires me more than when people tell me that I, in some small way, am inspiring them.

Every time I want to quit pedalling and go have some ice cream, I think about the people who are watching - those who are cheering me on, those who are drawing inspiration, and those who have doubt. I think about them all, and I pedal a little bit faster. It's like fuel.

So thank you.

Monika R. "RedKat" said...

Beautiful post, Chris. As someone who SHOULD be posting here and doing more, I'm making excuse after excuse to do nothing at all. You are an inspiriation.

Michelle said...

Chris - you're very inspirational! I'm with Monika (and Julie) in that we're the Losers who haven't been posting. Shannan, you're amazing ... I just can't seem to find the interest. It'll get better when the snow is gone. Right now I seem to have hibernating instincts. Hopefully Chris's story will help me get out there and find a gym I actually like - and to which I'll go!

Anonymous said...

我從來不認為不同意我的看法就是冒犯 ..................................................