Who: Stephen Daniel Lewis
City: Fredericton N.B.
By The Numbers: 432 pounds at my heaviest, currently 246 pounds, for a total weight loss of 186 pounds.
The Weight Gain: I always struggled with my weight from a very young age. I'd say that I was obese by the age of 10. It started out as most things like this do: I never really paid much attention to my weight growing up, and the next thing I knew I weighed 285 lbs at the age of 15.
I started to abuse alcohol from a very young age (around age 11 or 12). I used it as another way to hide from the things I didn't want to deal with, but also as a form of acceptance. My drinking was at its heaviest from the age of 18 to 25, and in the later years of my addiction, I started to notice a lot of related health issues from it. In the last year of my addiction, I would experience withdrawal after drinking for days on end. I would get "the shakes" and can remember even vomiting blood at points.
In addition to these addiction side effects, I'm also quite confident I was an undiagnosed diabetic. I had every symptom, including blurred vision, wounds that wouldn't heal for weeks, frequent bathroom use, and extreme fatigue after eating.
Final Straw: All my friends and family were very scared for me. My father had passed away in June of 2013, and that only furthered my health problems and addictions.
The final straw was when I had to go and get weighed at an experimental farm where they weigh livestock and dead cattle. I knew that weighing 432 lbs meant that I could literally drop dead at any given moment. My music career had just started to progress and the thought of losing that really scared me, but more importantly, the thought of leaving my mother without a husband and her youngest son was something I couldn't bear. That's when I decided to make the change.
The Plan of Attack: On Valentine's Day 2014, I started living my life as a vegan. I gave up drinking alcohol, didn't consume any refined sugar or junk food, started to do at least 30 minutes of yoga a day, and began living a very active lifestyle.
I just had my one-year anniversary of clean living and in one year I lost 186 pounds. I went from a 5 XL shirt to a 1 XL/ LG and from a 50" waist line to a 34".
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The Exercise Factor: I took an intro yoga class and then began to do it at home due to embarrassment.
I still do yoga and I jump at any opportunity to be active from hiking, walking, swimming, or anything of that sort. I also have become more active when I perform my musical act and it's starting to become another form of exercise for me.
The Food Element: I eat all sorts of fruit and vegetables, and drink lots of water. I found ways to make foods (like fettucine Alfredo) healthily without the use of animal products or extra fat. I essentially changed the way I looked at food and thought about hunger. I also gave up meat, dairy, alcohol, refined sugar, and processed foods in the process.
There wasn't anything specific that was abnormally hard to adjust to. The first 30 days were the toughest, but when I weighed in at the end of the month, I had lost 40 pounds. So I knew from then on it was something I was going to stick with.
The Current Day-to-Day: My life has literally and figuratively changed completely. I have had a complete physical and personal transformation. I'm no longer tired or sluggish and I have a new passion for life. I have purpose and goals which I would never have been able to achieve if I didn't make this change. My dreams are coming true and it's the best feeling I've ever experienced.
I am most proud to be alive. I am proud that I am now able to travel the world and share my music, talents, and story with people who really need to hear it. My one and only regret is that my father wasn't alive to see me living healthy. I loved him very much and I miss him terribly every day.
Everybody has to start somewhere and you don't need to hit rock bottom like I did before you decide to take your life back. When all else fails, simply breathe and be thankful that you are able to even do just that. Time is the most valuable thing and you can never buy more of it, so make sure that the time you do have counts for something.
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