Back in December of 2019, I wrote a bit about changing my diet, getting some regular exercise, and losing weight. I didn’t want to know how much I weighed. I didn’t want to see a number that didn’t line up with where I thought I should be. It was enough to know I’d lost a few inches in my waist and I could fit into clothes I didn’t think I’d ever be able to wear again.
A year ago I had to step on a scale. It was part of the process of getting a new family doctor. In August of 2019, I weighed at least 270 pounds. When I weighed myself in the doctor’s office in February of 2020, I decided I would be happy to be at 240. I stepped on the scale. I prepared myself for the worst.
I weighed 224 pounds.
I couldn’t believe it. Yeah, I’d been exercising and eating better, and I’d been on a healthy, consistent sleep schedule for a year by then. But I didn’t think there was any way I could lose almost fifty pounds in half a year without working out every day and going on a really strict diet.
That was a good feeling.
I kept waiting for the dreaded weight loss plateau to kick in. From what I read, I figured I was right around the point where I should expect my metabolism to adjust to the changes I’d made, and my weight loss was probably going to slow down before stopping altogether. I bought a bathroom scale to have at home just so I could see where I was when everything ground to a halt.
I kept setting goals for myself that I thought were unrealistic. I thought, “If I can get down to 200, that would be unbelievable.” I got there in June. Then I thought, “If I can somehow get down to 190 by my birthday, I’ll have lost 80 pounds in a year. I’d feel pretty fantastic about that. But there’s no way.” Come August 16, I was at 189. Then I thought, “Hell, if I can get down to 180 or 175 by the end of the year, I’ll be a very happy guy. Maybe I’ll even treat myself to a pizza to celebrate.” When I weighed myself on New Year’s Eve, I was at 174.
I didn’t eat any pizza.
Then I thought, “If I can get down to 170, I’ll have lost a hundred pounds. But that’s not even possible.”
I weighed myself this morning. The scale said 169.8. That means I’ve now lost 37% of my total body weight. That’s madness.
I’ve been walking with Johnny Smith for more than a year and a half now. Willistead Park has become our place ever since walking at the mall stopped being an option about a year ago (and man, was it ever a change for the better). We’ve walked through rain, through heat and humidity that made it feel like we were walking in a sauna, and now we’re walking through the snow. We haven’t missed a day on our walking schedule. Not one. I still really enjoy what I’m eating, but all the junk is long gone. There’s no more iced tea. There are no more snacks. Not even healthy ones. Maybe an apple slice once in a while if I’m feeling dangerous. The only thing I drink that isn’t water is half a glass of orange juice with my breakfast.
I haven’t set foot inside of a gym. I do about ten minutes of exercises using my body weight in the morning, and then I do the same exercises again before I go to bed. When I started, I could do about a dozen crunches, and I could hold a plank for about as long as it took me to spell my name. Now I do two hundred crunches and I can hold a plank for more than two minutes. I don’t think I’ll ever have washboard abs, but there’s definition in my stomach I’ve never seen before, and I think the muscles in my legs have children and grandchildren now. Doing burpees used to make me feel like my legs were on fire. Now they’re just something I do to wake up and wind down.
I’m not bragging. This is all surreal to me. I imagine it’s going to keep feeling that way for a while. If you told me doing a few simple things and fixing my sleep would bring about this sort of change, I would have laughed at you. Now I really wish I took before and after pictures. Even awful, embarrassing shirtless ones. But as much as I would get a kick out of having that sort of stark visual evidence of the way my body has changed, I’m more concerned with the way I feel. And I almost feel like a different person now. I guess I should, since I’m 63% of what I used to be.
Here are some pictures anyway. This is me in 2015.
I thought I carried that extra weight pretty well, but Jesus Christ. I look at those pictures now and I don’t even recognize that guy. When these were taken, I was already down to about half a dozen shirts that were loose enough to hide my gut. By the summer of 2018 those shirts weren’t doing such a great job anymore.
And here are two bathroom selfies. Because I’m so 2005. The first one was taken a few weeks ago. The second one was taken today.
I have a whole new wardrobe now. I’m wearing clothes I haven’t worn since high school. Things I shouldn’t be able to fit into. I even bought myself a few cardigans just to treat myself. It’s a lot more fun buying yourself new clothes when you like the way you look than it is when you’re trying to find things you can wear that will hide the shape of your body.
I don’t expect to lose too much more weight beyond this. I still haven’t hit a plateau, but things really are slowing down now. I’ve gone from losing about five pounds a month to just two. I’m fine with that. I’d be fine with it if I didn’t lose another pound from here. I think I’m at a pretty healthy weight now. I wish I made these changes a lot sooner than I did, but I guess the main thing is I made them while it still counts.
I never imagined I would feel younger and better — emotionally and physically — at 37 than I did at 30. But here we are. Maybe it’s true what they say: you’re only as old as you weigh. And if that’s so, I’ve got a few hundred more years ahead of me. You know what that means.
BRACE YOURSELVES FOR TWO THOUSAND MORE JOHNNY WEST ALBUMS.