Who: Jeff Roth
Occupation: Business owner
City: St. Albert, Alta
By The Numbers: 285 pounds at my heaviest, currently at 175 pounds, for a total weight loss of 110 pounds.
The Weight Gain: I was always heavy as a child, and always an over-eater. In my family, if you didn’t eat fast, you might not have gotten seconds. My dad would eat most of the food in the house, so from a young age I started hiding food and eating compulsively.
It was tough as a kid, always being bugged about my size, wanting to change, but never receiving the support I needed to be successful.
Final Straw: In the summer of 2008, while working in the garden of my acreage, life decided to remind me of my mortality. I was taking a wheelbarrow full of weeds to a specific composing corner of the yard. My dog was out enjoying the day as well and usually never left my side. On my return trip to the garden, I noticed that she had caught the scent of something to hunt and was no longer interested in what I was doing. I called a few times but finding out what that neighbourhood fox was up to won the attention of my Labrador. On to plan B, I decided to run with the wheel barrow back to the garden in hopes to spark the game of chase. Of course, it worked and she flew across the yard in a straight line towards me. That day I ran roughly 150 to 200 feet with an empty wheel barrow.
"It was the first time since high school that I had run further than 10 feet. It was also the closest to death I had ever felt."
That day was the day I decided that being 29 years old and feeling like my heart was about to explode in my chest from a slow 50 metre dash was not right. I remember this day vividly because it was the day that terrified me. I ended up sitting in my garden trying to catch my breath, and as I sat there alone, staring at the ground, I began to realize it was time to make a serious changes. It was the first time since high school that I had run further than 10 feet. It was also the closest to death I had ever felt.
Story continues below.
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The Plan of Attack: In the beginning, I started to make healthier choices. I dropped dessert, stopped pop and sugar in my coffee, and tried to be more active. Later that year, my employer held a "Biggest Loser" competition. I took this opportunity to take things to the next level. I hadn’t weighed myself, but without knowing it, I had already lost 35 pounds.
I started earlier in the year in 2008 at around the 285 pound mark. By the end of November, I was down to just under 250 pounds. From then to March, I reached my goal of 185 pounds. I gave it my complete focus and was able to lose the weight and gave myself a new body and a new lifestyle for my 30th birthday.
The Exercise Factor: A friend at work who was fit and worked out a lot made me a workout plan with basic weight training and I used a gym at the fire hall I was volunteering at. I went there to work out every day in the evening and eventually developed a passion for running. In the spring, I would take long runs on top of the workouts, too.
Currently I run marathons. My goal is 50 marathons before I turn 50. I have run 18 so far and will complete my 21st in Victoria which is where I ran my first full marathon back in 2010.
I train harder in the weeks leading up to the marathons with longer 21km to 30km runs, but as a general rule I try to run every other day somewhere between 10km to 16km depending on how much time I have.
The Food Element: I ate chicken and veggies just about every night for dinner. I stayed away from alcohol, salt, fast food, eating out in general, and watched my carb intake. I also only drank water completely eliminating pop and juice.
My spouse and family members were semi-supportive depending on the occasion. If they wanted to go out for a beer they would tell me I need to “live my life” rather than focus on losing weight at the time, but then other times they would tell me they supported my journey.
My now ex-wife started out supportive but quickly fell back into old habits and brought a lot of junk food into the house that was very difficult to be around. Most nights, we made separate meals. I would make my chicken and steamed veggies and she would make Hamburger Helper or bring fast food or pizza in for dinner.
"I’m proud that I was able to overhaul my lifestyle without much support at the time. It wasn’t just the weight that changed. It was how I saw myself and how I saw my life."
The Current Day-to-Day: I’m on the go with work, family, and my Masters, but I have a supportive wife now who also believes in the importance of a healthy diet.
My wife and I eat a plant based diet and hardly ever eat out. We stay away from processed food as much as possible and at home we don’t eat meat or dairy because it crowds the veggies out of our diet. When there is a time we need to eat out or on the go though, we don’t stress about it.
I’m proud that I was able to overhaul my lifestyle without much support at the time. It wasn’t just the weight that changed. It was how I saw myself and how I saw my life. I’m a different person now than I was back then because it was the beginning of my journey to seeing myself as someone worthwhile and not just someone who needed to please others.
You need food to live. Food is everywhere. Food is at the centre of every social gathering and event. You don’t need to smoke, do drugs or drink to live. If completely avoiding food was an option, it would likely be a lot easier to lose the weight! I constantly felt, and sometimes still do feel, that society sets people up for failure when it comes to healthy eating. Healthy eating takes time and so many people have schedules that make it difficult to take the time to cook a healthy meal.
Realize that you will likely fight for support along the way, as I’ve heard from so many people that they experienced exactly what I did with a surprising lack of support from the people closest to you.
Eight years ago I couldn’t do a flight of stairs without needing a break at the top. Now, I have nearly qualified, and WILL qualify, for the Boston Marathon, have energy to keep up with my kids, and plan on living much longer than I’m sure I would have if I kept up my old ways.
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