How did you get to be so fat?

Someone asked me this today when they saw photos of me from before I lost all the weight. I think it’s interesting how they would never have asked me that if I was still obese, but the fact that I’m no longer fat somehow gives people the courage to ask me things like that. It’s as if now that we’re in the “Skinny club,” we can talk about “Those fatties.” I ignore the fact that it’s kind of rude only because I look past these little social faux pas’ because I really and truly want to help people and I’m not so thin-skinned. Not everyone who loses a great amount of weight has my lack of modesty, however, which is why I mention it at all.

In 1987 with my sister. I was a 20 year-old LCpl in the Marines.

As a young man, I was very thin. I never had a problem with weight regardless of what I ate. I could eat anything, anytime, anywhere, and I would stick at 162 lbs. Sure, I was a little soft in the middle once I hit my 20’s, but it wasn’t until right at 30 when I started putting on weight.

My son and I in 1996.

From that point forward, keeping my weight within the Marine Corps height/weight regulations became a struggle. The maximum weight for my height was 175 lbs, and I was always right up on that number. There were many times I went over it and had to do some severe dieting and exercise to get below 175 lbs. It was not fun and I hated it. This is part of the reason I had such a negative outlook on exercise for such a long time: it was because I struggled with my weight and erroneously believed that exercise was the preferred method to control weight. Nobody told me that I could control my weight better with a low-carb diet. That was not a “Thing” yet. Had I known about Paleo back then, I likely never would have struggled with my weight at all.

In 1997 with a former Marine and one of my troops.

A year before I got out of the Marines, I had a surgical procedure that left me on light duty for the rest of my time on active duty until I got out. This left me unable to exercise, and worse, allowed me to gain weight. I fattened up like a well-fed pig and left the Marines about 15 lbs overweight at 190 lbs.

1998, a year after leaving the Marines.

From the Marines, I went to a desk job answering server support calls at Compaq. I went from a fairly active lifestyle (even on light duty, I was on my feet most of the day) to one where I sat at a desk all day. What didn’t change was my eating habits, and I gained a lot of weight very quickly. So fast, in fact, that I had stretch marks exactly like women get when they get pregnant. I ballooned up past 215 lbs within six months. A year later, I was over 240 lbs.


Over the course of the next few years, I struggled with different diets to try to get my weight under control. One time, in late 1998, I succeeded in getting my weight down to 189 lbs. I felt pretty good, but I was subsisting on a diet that was unsustainable. I felt tired, worn out, and had no energy. I was doing a lot of working out in gyms as I was traveling extensively at the time, but I caught pneumonia and was sidelined for a few weeks. Once I recovered, I had gained 15 lbs and along with the weight, I lost my will to continue on the diet or to get back into exercise. I gained all the weight back – and then some.

At my heaviest. I wonder why.

I tried time and time again to lose weight unsuccessfully. Regardless of how much walking I did or how much “Diet food” I ate (low-fat, no-sugar), I couldn’t get past about a 20 lbs loss. What’s worse is every time I failed, I would gain all the weight back plus another 10-15 lbs. At my heaviest, I got up to 312 lbs. I thought I was going to die at any moment.

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Still at my heaviest, just before I cut out the sodas.

The only thing that seemed to work for me was cutting out all sodas. Even though I switched to artificially sweetened, just getting rid of the full-sugar Coke I used to drink daily allowed me to lose about 2 lbs a month. This was steady, sustained weight loss over the course of about two years. When I started my Whole30, I only weighed 290 lbs. Only. It took me two years to go from 312 to 290. At that rate, I’d be dead before I ever saw 170 lbs again. I had made the decision that I needed to do something that gave me faster results. Or else.

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My wife Sherry and I at Easter, 2017.

A year and a half later, here I am. I weigh 169 lbs and I’m within a stone’s throw from my final goal of 165 lbs. I am no longer obese, but while according to BMI I’m still overweight, my body fat is very low and I’m comfortable with the weight I’m at. If I go lower than 165 lbs, it’ll be because my body wants to be there, not me. I’m finally at a place in my life in terms of health and fitness that I’m happy with.

1998 vs 2017. Whole30 and the Paleo Diet changed my life forever.

Whole30 and Paleo are both free and there are lots of resources available online. I am here to answer questions via email, PM, or messaging. Let me know if you need any pointers, tips, motivation, or just an ear to listen to. I’d love to help you (and there are no strings attached, no fees, and I’m not selling anything).

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