It’s that time of year. Shirts are coming off, shorts are getting shorter, and the temptation to take a dip in the local watering hole is almost impossible to resist. The temperatures aren’t the only thing rising though, so is the pressure to shed the winter weight and look good in that summer wardrobe. Where to start though with what seems like a hundred diet and exercise plans out there? A few brave members of the The Tailgate Society have decided to share their weight loss journeys with you, providing personal experience on what motivates them (spoiler: it’s not just about being skinny!) as well as what has and hasn’t worked for them.
Weight Lost: 30 pounds.
When did you begin your journey? November 2017
Motivation for starting? I quit my job and started working from home, and all of a sudden had time for shenanigans like cooking every meal and getting a quick workout in.
Goals: Get my blood pressure down, be able to shop in standard sizes, play a season of recreational league basketball.
Method: My diet is basically trying to enjoy good, nutrient filled food, in a portion that makes sense for a normal human. I work out 3 times a week on the elliptical for 30 minutes, and really need to get out on my bike a couple more days a week now that the weather is good.
Any surprising results you’ve had? Cutting back my energy drink and candy intake to it being a treat every once in a while instead of breakfast made a huge difference. I have truly learned to love coffee that I make in my kitchen, instead of run to an espresso stand for. I really missed feeling connected to my body, and working out consistently makes that happen.
Hardest change/biggest obstacle? Have you been able to overcome it? Getting tired and ordering out. I haven’t defeated the monster yet, but at least it’s not cheap crap fast food or pizza as much anymore.
Any tips for weight loss beginners? You’re going to fail. You will struggle and plateau and not be able to resist your favorite food and it’s okay. It’s not a huge deal to have a setback.
“I’ve also cut back on smoking and drinking at the same time, because changing habits together is easier. Changing something about all my crap food behavior triggers has made a huge difference.”
– Tami Dooley
Weight Lost: 45 pounds, ~23% of total body weight.
When did you begin your journey? March 2017
Motivation for starting? Started having health trouble and couldn’t fit into my favorite shirts anymore.
Goals: Started out wanting to lose 30-35 pounds and fit into a size small shirt.
Method: Custom calorie diet (~1500 calories/day, <150 g of carbs, >100 g of protein, very little sugar). Work out 5-6 times per week for ~30 minutes each.
Any surprising results you’ve had? I used to hate getting up every day. Getting into shape actually made me into a morning person.
Hardest change/biggest obstacle? Staying focused on the diet (I have a very severe sweet tooth) and sometimes being too tired to get even a brief workout in.
Any tips for weight loss beginners? Don’t starve yourself right away OR try to work out too much in the beginning (use gradual increments in both cases). Any sort of exercise is better than no exercise. Always do your best to stay in a positive state of mind, even when the scale doesn’t reflect the results you’re hoping for.
“Losing weight has actually helped me become a more focused, disciplined individual in ever facet of my life – and I think that’s the greatest benefit of this entire journey. Exercising is a great stress reliever, too.”
Weight Lost: Gained 20 pounds. When I started working out again, I was roughly 165 pounds, but my body fat percentage was probably around 10%. Now, I’m 185 pounds, but I’m down to 4-5% body fat.
When did you begin your journey? I started doing CrossFit in August of 2014 at CrossFit Boone in North Carolina.
Motivation for starting? I started entirely at the suggestion of my wife. I remember distinctly doing yard work and being winded by an entirely mundane task. As a former college wrestler, I felt a bit embarrassed as to how far out of shape I’d fallen. At this point (2014), I hadn’t worked out consistently for five years. My wife said that people online were all about this CrossFit thing and suggested I try it out. Even though I was awful at first, it immediately scratched my competitive itch (every day there’s a running competition between people at the gym, usually with scores posted via an app) and resembled some of my old wrestling workouts. I’ve been doing it ever since.
Goals: My goals are largely focused on individual workouts and continuing to best my personal times, weights, etc. At this point, my big goal is to hit 1000 pounds total for my dead-lift/back squat/push press combo. At last testing, I was at 915 pounds. On an everyday basis, my main goal is to continue to stay ahead of all the 22-year-old pups at my gym that think they can take down this old man (I’m 36).
Method: My main fitness regime is doing CrossFit 3-4 times a week with the fine folks at CrossFit Flyover in Des Moines, Iowa. In addition to that, I practice intermittent fasting.
Any surprising results you’ve had? One moment that stands out is the first time I tried to do a body weight dead-lift. When I tried to dead-lift 170 pounds, I thought my arms would going to rip off my body. Now, I’m up to almost 2.5x my body weight (435 pounds). Another big surprise is how much both my body and emotional well-being have been transformed. I’m a happier person now, and I truly enjoy pushing my body to new limits. I’d have never guessed that I would be able to physically do some of the things I can do now at 36 years old.
Hardest change/biggest obstacle? Have you been able to overcome it? The biggest obstacle for me is not listening to that guy in my head that tells me it’s okay to take a break in the middle of a hellacious workout. There’s at least a couple of points in every workout where I want to take a breather, so I have to continually remind myself that pushing hard now means I get done sooner.
Any tips for weight loss beginners? My #1 tip is to find a workout and nutrition plan that works for you. The best plan is the one that you’ll do and do consistently. A diet isn’t going to work. A lifestyle change is the only way to see long-term permanent results. Can you see yourself doing this for the rest of your life? If not, scrap it and do something else. Otherwise, it’ll never stick.
“When I first started out, I was getting destroyed by women twice my age. There’s nothing wrong with that but it also showed me how far I had to go. However, within a few months, I started to become acquainted with the movements, lifts, and theories behind this brand of functional fitness.”
Weight Lost: So far, about 12 pounds but Memorial Day weekend screwed that up pretty nicely.
When did you begin your journey? I started the diet in mid-April (2018), but actually dedicated myself to it by the end of the month.
Motivation for starting? Having a wedding a year out was my main motivator, but just not feeling healthy was a nagging feeling that I knew I had to address.
Goals: With a June wedding next year, I’m hoping to lose 50 pounds, but most importantly I just want to feel healthy.
Method: I decided to test the keto diet for a couple of weeks because I had heard great things about it. I’m now 30+ days into it and loving it, and have added daily walking and other cardio to help shed more pounds.
Any surprising results you’ve had? The biggest surprise so far has been how relatively easy the keto diet has been for me. I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth so cutting sugars/sodas/sweets out of my diet wasn’t a huge hurdle, but voluntarily going without potatoes, pasta, bread, etc. has been unexpectedly easy.
Hardest change/biggest obstacle? Have you been able to overcome it? By far the most difficult challenge has been the social aspect. Hanging with friends usually either involves food, drinking, or both. I have been adamant about allowing myself cheat days to make this a lifestyle change and not just a diet I know I’ll break eventually, so I’m fine with a weekend cheat day. Sometimes it sucks sitting around a table of friends who have no beer limit and are munching on chips on a weeknight while I sit and twiddle my thumbs.
Any tips for weight loss beginners? My #1 tip to weigh-loss beginners is to know yourself. I have never been good at dieting. I’ve tracked food intake using apps (and still do), I’ve put myself on exercise plans, I’ve given myself goals, but I’ve always found ways to cheat my own system and usually drop the routine after about two weeks. For me, I needed something more strict – a diet that wouldn’t allow me to cheat with a bite-sized candy bar just because it’s bite-sized – but that allowed me to eat the foods I loved, and keto was exactly that. My advice isn’t “try the keto diet!” because it’s not for everyone, but you have to find what works for you. Find a diet that is sustainable, whether it’s just cutting back on quantity or reshaping your diet altogether. Go for a lifestyle change and you’ll see results quickly.
“I’m a weight-loss newbie and still a long way from perfecting my own system. Here are the 5 tips I’d give any beginner really wanting to make a change:
- Know yourself (read above).
- Clean out your fridge and cupboards and prepare for a big overhaul shopping trip. You can’t cheat if you don’t have anything to cheat with. It’s not fun, but it’s important.
- Find technology to hold yourself accountable. I use the Lose it! app to track food intake and nutrition information. Buying a FitBit was a huge step in recognizing my exercise shortcomings and pushing myself to do better, and downloading multiple workout apps has made it easy to stay active.
- Find others to share your journey with you. This sounds stupid, but talking to other people who are motivated to living healthier is a huge motivator.
- Like I said before, try to make your weight loss journey less of a “diet” and more of a lifestyle change. I always thought that concept was BS, but after a month of changing how I eat I’ve seen drastic changes in appetite and cravings. Getting over that hump can suck, but it can seriously change your life.”
Weight Lost: 20 pounds.
When did you begin your journey? January 1, 2018. I am a cliché New Years resolution.
Motivation for starting? I saw a picture of myself that I hardly recognized myself in. I have always been a curvy girl and the curves that I had grown to love were nowhere to be seen. My body mass index (BMI) had also elevated to a personal high. I knew my diet and lack of exercise could not stay the same if I wanted to stay out of the “overweight” BMI range. I had to make a change before it got out of hand.
Goals: Being 5’11 I want to feel confident showing off my legs again. They are extremely strong but they jiggle and my confidence has dwindled when it comes to wearing shorts and skirts. Be able to touch my toes, see my seat belt strap without sucking in, run a mile without stopping. Little things that make a big difference in terms of my confidence.
Method: I went to a family wedding last fall and my mom had lost a ton of weight since I had last seen her. I asked her how she did it and she said Weight Watchers so I gave it a try. I was super committed to it at first and saw results immediately but after a few months I realized I didn’t even need the program anymore because it became what everyone else has already said – a lifestyle change – not a diet. I also bought a stationary bike and quit letting my boyfriend be the only one who takes the dog for walks.
Any surprising results you’ve had? I started eating healthier no doubt but I didn’t have to give up any of my favorite foods to start shedding pounds. I found weighing out my food and obeying portion sizes has been the biggest factor in my success. Often I find if I can have a small amount of a favorite food or a larger amount of a healthier option I usually pick the healthier option.
Hardest change/biggest obstacle? Have you been able to overcome it? At first it was definitely cooking a healthy meal while my boyfriend cooked comfort food, but that eventually passed when I saw my energy (something I have always struggled with) increase. Now, I think the hardest part is sticking to the changes I’ve made. My weight gain seemed to have come out of nowhere, so I easily worry that any bad day will lead to disaster again; my biggest obstacle is definitely my own head.
Any tips for weight loss beginners? The feelings I’ve had about failure are normal. Are there weigh-in days that I have gained? Yes, but I keep a running spreadsheet of my monthly weight, BMI, body fat %, water weight, and muscle mass (get this scale, it’s amazing) and focus on my beginning numbers versus current numbers and ignore anything in between.
“I am a firm believer that if you are physically at a beach, by definition you already have a beach body. If someone has a problem with your love handles or man-boobs, that’s on them. Whether your beach or poolside apparel of choice is a bikini, speedo, trunks, one-piece, or head to toe coverage, the important thing is that you’re healthy, comfortable, and confident so rock it.”
Happy Summer! Don’t forget the sunscreen!