Who: Justin James Wright
Occupation: Stay-at-home dad
City: Kitchener, Ont.
By The Numbers: 235 pounds at my heaviest, currently at 187 pounds, for a total weight loss of 47 pounds.
The Weight Gain: Ever since I was a young kid, I struggled with weight problems. I was often singled out and picked on for my weight. All the men in my family were the same way. My dad, my grandad, uncles — being overweight just seemed like a part of my DNA like my brown hair or my freckles.
I did manage to lose some weight during my last couple of years at university. I had thought I was doing very well, but then I left school, got married and started having kids.
When my son was born in the summer of 2013, I became a proud stay-at-home dad. That’s when I really started to pack on the weight. I was home all day with my son with nothing to do but eat. I snacked when he snacked, ate when he ate, and usually a few times in between.
I did try to get myself on a diet a few times but every time I tried I would lose five or 10 pounds, then I would quickly slide back into old habits.
Final Straw: The tipping point for me was the birth of our second child last summer. I know it’s cheesy, but having a kid really makes you take a good, long look in the mirror. You want to be the best kind of person you can be. Someone your kids can grow up and be proud of. I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw, so I knew there had to be a change.
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The Plan of Attack: The first thing I did was get myself on better eating habits. Smaller portion sizes and less junk food.
I wanted to lose the weight slow and healthy so I found a calorie calculator online and figured out how many calories I need to consume daily in order to lose at least one pound per week. I stuck to this religiously, eventually eating less as I lost more weight. It hasn’t been quite one year yet, and I’m almost at 50 pounds of weight lost, so the weight actually came off quicker than I had expected.
The Exercise Factor: After I lost about 20 pounds, I started to incorporate a lot more exercise into my weight loss plan. Before I started losing weight I had lived a very sedentary lifestyle for a couple of years. That’s why I decided to ease myself into an effective exercise regimen.
Exercising while overweight can be very disheartening. Losing a few pounds first really helped to keep me motivated. I did join a gym, but did not use a personal trainer. Google became my personal trainer. I only used the gym once or twice a week, however, I prefer to exercise at home when possible.
Having achieved a weight that I am comfortable with, I now focus heavily on my fitness. I do cardio training outside and on the treadmill. I like to run high intensity interval training sessions. Nothing builds your cardio up and burns fat quite as well as high-intensity interval training. I also do a lot of work with weights. Squats, dead-lifts, presses and rows are all effective at working multiple muscle groups and burning fat.
I workout four times a week for one hour sessions. I usually spend 40 minutes on cardio and 20 on weight training. Some days I switch that around. Trying different variations helps keep things interesting. One day I might run sprints, the next day could be hill climbs, that sort of thing.
"I found as long as I stuck to my calorie count, regardless of how I got those calories, I would lose at least one pound a week."
The Food Element: I focused on foods that were high in lean protein like eggs, chicken and fish. I gave up sugar, ice cream, chocolate, cake and everything delicious and decedent. I have a huge sweet tooth and very little will power — a lethal combination.
Losing weight is very difficult, but it is also pretty simple. I found as long as I stuck to my calorie count, regardless of how I got those calories, I would lose at least one pound a week. Using my allotted calories wisely was essential, however, for my overall health and fitness.
"I set myself a goal. I said I was going to do it and I did."
The Current Day-to-Day: I feel incredible. I can walk up the stairs without getting winded! And the changes I’ve made to my lifestyle just feel like second nature now. I don’t crave the sweets and extra food like I did in the beginning.
I could never maintain my weight without the support of my wife and kids. I still have almost no willpower. They keep me grounded, keep me looking ahead at what I want my life to be. It’s important to surround yourself with positive support, whether from family or friends or even a support group.
My advice? Don’t try to do everything at once. You don’t need to cut your calories in half and promise to hit the gym five days a week and everything else on the same day. It’s just too much change to take on. Start slow. Get yourself on a good diet that works for you and slowly add in the exercise later. Diet is far more important. All the exercise in the world won’t beat a bad diet.
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