Weight Gain Background and Contributing Factors
Scott was “stocky” as a junior-high school student, and built some muscle playing football in high school. He always ate really healthy home cooked meals as a young kid, and he was (and still is) very much into sports.
Unfortunately, a football injury at university changed his sports path, and he describes that as the time when “eating kicked in.”
Scott shares that he wasn’t sure exactly what to do with himself after the injury. Until that point, his whole life had been dedicated to sports.
Looking back at old photos, he sees that from 1999-2003 he grew a double chin. Scott says he was devoted to school, work, and spent very little-to-no time on nutrition but ate only based on convenience. This led to the consumption of many snacks and sweets.
Scott also had a busy job and wasn’t motivated to work out.
“It was just a habit I got into and it almost took over my life.”
How Being Overweight Impacted Scott’s Life
Scott is 6’1” tall and weighed 596 pounds (271 kg) as of December 31 2013. Upon reaching that peak weight, he recalls:
“I literally lost my mind at that point.”
As someone who grew up playing sports, Scott was always very flexible for a male. However, in 2006, while playing hockey, he realized his flexibility was no longer what it used to be. In fact, it was almost entirely gone.
Scott had also begun suffered from chronic pain—he couldn’t get into or out of his car without excruciating difficulty. He also suffered from osteoarthritis caused by psoriasis. In late 2008 Scott was put on pain management drugs and a sleeping aid, and these medications changed his mood. Scott also suffered from a bout of cellulitis in his leg and he had to go to the ER and take 12 days of antibiotics.
Despite all this, Scott says that his blood work was still in acceptable ranges at this point.
The Turning Point
Scott’s brother is a personal trainer, and recently shared with Scott that – back then – he thought Scott was headed to an early grave. About his emotional state at the time, Scott says:
“I was literally beating myself up on a daily basis.”
His relationship with his spouse was also going south and making him feel like a hermit.
Scott’s turning point had 3 specific factors:
1: He was done with his cellulitis and skin damage
2: He felt no self-worth at that point in his life.
“I emotionally was completely in the dumpster.”
3: He always felt out of breath, and it felt like his chest was crushing his lungs. People at work always asked if he was ok because it was difficult for him to carry on a conversation.
Scott booked a doctor’s appointment for December 31, 2013 and “literally bawled my eyes out right in front of him.”
His doctor spoke to Scott that day about the possibility of bariatric surgery. Scott had some time to talk to some acquaintances who had already had the surgery, and he got a fuller picture of what it would entail.
He spoke to a friend who had undergone the procedure and she had a “whole pharmacy” of vitamins and minerals on her windowsill–one of the many things surrounding the surgery that made Scott feel uneasy. Scott decided over time that he wasn’t sure bariatric surgery was the route he wanted to take.
Scott never thought that he weighed 420 pounds, so he was shocked to discover that he had reached almost 600 (272.7 kg).
Looking back, Scott shares that if someone had shown him some tough love in the past and asked him what was going on with his eating, he probably would not have been receptive to the suggestion that something was wrong. He emphasizes that the desire to change has to be from within, and has to come at the right time in your life.
Scott discusses the fact that the people on shows like the Biggest Loser may have a difficult time keeping the weight off, as they will be abandoning they support structure when they leave the ranch.
“If you have to be guided through it…how do they keep up with it?”
Scott is committed to both the external changes, such as his eating choices, as well as examining his mental state. He spoke to some dietitians and a nutritional psychologist. Scott describes these as four “very emotional” phone calls.
He followed up with these consultations on Skype, and submitted periodic blood work. Scott says he used food for 3 things: As a vice, for fun, and for emotional comfort. With a little bit of weight loss Scott began to feel better pretty quickly.
He credits the nutritional psychologist with making the biggest impact in changing his eating:
“I used food as a crutch because I honestly did not feel like myself from the day I got injured in football.”
Starting The Weight Loss Journey
One of Scott’s regular dinners used to be an entire large pizza and a 2-liter bottle of coke. He has made a “180 degree turn” since then.
Even when he had fast food he would get a more modest portion like a grilled chicken sandwich instead of a ‘baconator’. Scott used to only drink milk and orange juice, and never drank water in the past. Scott loved using “Mio” flavors to get him to add more water to his diet at the beginning.
In spring of 2014, Scott began noticing that his stomach was shrinking. His 6XL shirt was fitting looser than before. Though he was still eating fast food, Scott had dropped to 571 pounds (259.5 kg).
Even just losing 25 pounds made a difference in how he felt every day and how many steps he could take without getting out of breath. His doctor was still of the opinion that Scott needed bariatric surgery, and that Scott wasn’t going to be able to do it on your own. Scott said “game on” to that because he still did not want surgery.
Scott started walking in March—3 months in to his journey—for about 30 minutes at a time. He then joined a gym in April. Scott was a little intimidated by all the choices in the gym—all the machines, etc. In order to address this, he took advantage of the gym’s initial consulting service with a trainer.
His gym is directly next to Scott’s work, and he developed a sense of community/family with the employees and other gym members. Scott puts going to the gym into his appointment calendar so that he stays focused, and works out about 5 times each week. Scott would love to go back in time and stop his weight gain before it started, and get himself to sports rehab and right back into playing football. Scott thinks it’s important that you don’t let your fitness goals get slowed down by an injury.
What Scott Learned About Food, Exercise, and Himself
Scott discusses the fact that it’s critically important to educate yourself if you are being considered for any kind of bariatric surgery, or if you are attempting any kind of weight loss.
Scott did exhaustive research for himself on nutrition. He made many eye-opening discoveries such as the surprising sugar content of foods like skim milk. Another finding that surprised Scott was the amount of sodium in fast food, even fast food that claims to be “healthful.”
Other eye-openers are the fact of how many preservatives and salts are added to “fresh” things such as orange juice and canned fruit. About red meat, Scott now says he “avoids it like the plague,” and eats mostly vegetables, chicken and fish.
Co-workers are still surprised by the food Scott now brings in to eat at work. Scott does not like boxed and processed food anymore, and focuses his shopping on single ingredient whole foods.
Scott is still on his journey and is now down to 432.8 pounds (196.7 kg) from 596, an incredible feat in 10 months; and he is still fired up and getting healthier by the day.
Scott’s Advice For Your Journey
Start by walking. Do it as an exercise with good shoes and go out for a good half hour at least. Build up a progression and work up to more and more days each week.
Scott shares that walking for a few months can be a great transition to a gym environment.
Resources Discussed In This Podcast
- 10 Steps to Healthy Eating by Leslie Beck [ Amazon ]
- Physical activities guidelines from the Canadian Government, based on age: csep.ca/guidelines
- You: The Owner’s Guide – Insider’s Guide to the Body by Michael F Roysen and Dr. Memhet Oz (an 8 hour CD) [ Amazon / iTunes / iTunes Audiobook ]
- The Science of Eating page on Facebook
On Scott’s Workout Playlist
- Second Chance by Shinedown [ Amazon / iTunes ]
- For Whom the Bell Tolls by Metallica [ Amazon / iTunes ]
- Crazy Bitch by Buck Cherry [ Amazon / iTunes ]
- Lose Yourself by Eminem [ Amazon / iTunes ]
- Centuries by Fallout Boy [ Amazon / iTunes ]
- World on Fire by Slash [ Amazon / iTunes ]
- Cult of Personality by Living Colour [ Amazon / iTunes ]