50: Tapping Into Competitive Nature for Weight Loss | Jeff Lester

Jeff was overweight for most of his life until going to university, where he’s found weight-loss success and learned a tremendous amount about himself.

Hear how Jeff lost 110 pounds (50 kg), his advice on goal-setting, and some great tips for transitioning into healthy eating!

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

“Anybody can do anything for fifteen seconds!”

“Nothing worth having comes without sacrifice.”


Weight gain background and contributing factors

Jeff had been overweight most of his life until he began studies at Georgia Southern University. He had always told himself he’d lose weight, but it was never “a real thing.”

Jeff’s peak weight was 280 pounds. (127.3 kg)

How being overweight impacted Jeff’s life

Competitive by nature, it was disappointing for Jeff to give his full effort at sports and be the least athletic or least fit person out there.

“It was tough to deal with.”

He always really wanted to take his baseball playing to the next level, and although he had the skills, he didn’t have the athleticism to do it.

The turning point for Jeff

Jeff always felt he could lose the weight if he wanted, but isn’t sure why he didn’t have the motivation before. He felt fortunate to have family & friends that always loved him as he was.

A good friend of Jeff’s had started a weight loss program at the university, and as he noticed their progress, he decided to join the next semester. Once that “switch” was flipped in his head, his competitive nature kicked in, and he knew he would throw all his energy behind his commitment to become fit.

Starting the weight loss journey

Jeff describes his former diet as “pretty egregious,” and started by cutting out unhealthy foods. As he learned the calorie math behind his nutritional choices, he started making conscious decisions about what he ate.

“Once you realize… how important is cheese and mayonnaise to you?”

Those small wins added up to big results for Jeff. Changing one or two things a week was still a big change in the right direction.

Looking back now, Jeff feels very thankful that he had received guidance to be patient, and not be disheartened by slow, steady progress.

Jeff’s discoveries

  • Jeff had always believed losing weight was the result of working out more, but he discovered how critical nutrition is for success:

    “I was under the impression that working out more would make the weight loss, but the real thing was the diet. Once I changed that, it really helped a lot.”

  • It’s a lifestyle change, and once Jeff made the mental decision that this was his new lifestyle, the results came:

    You can’t lose your weight, go back to how things were before, and expect the weight to stay off.

Staying motivated

Jeff tapped into his competitive nature to stay motivated. Seeing other people do more and better than him in the gym kept him motivated because he knew he would get there eventually.

Jeff also describes how amazing it felt to surprise his family with his progress. He did not tell anyone he was working to lose weight, so the positive reactions to his progress only served to further motivate him.

What Jeff has learned about diet, exercise, and himself

  • “The whole weight loss… is eighty percent diet, twenty percent exercise.” As much as Jeff enjoys exercising now, his nutrition was “the backbone” of his program and progress.
  • >There is an interesting psychological aspect to the lifestyle change: working on self control, saying something and committing to it.
  • Your food preferences aren’t permanent; after transitioning to cleaner eating, your taste will change and you will naturally crave healthier foods.
  • Exercise is enjoyable! Once Jeff fell into a rhythm of working out every day, he felt like something was missing if he didn’t get active for some reason.

    “You never leave the gym feeling worse than when you started.”

  • If you learn and understand what processed foods do to your body, it becomes much easier to eat healthier.
  • Processed foods don’t properly send signals to your brain that you’re full.

    “The more I stay away from that stuff, the happier I’ll be. I know not to buy it.”

  • Jeff has also learned that he feels a compulsion to finish all the food on a plate in front of him, so he ensures the portions he chooses are just the right amount, and no more.

Jeff’s advice for your weight-loss journey

  • Be specific with your goals, and make every step you take be one that moves you toward that goal.
  • Recognize that if you want to get somewhere, it will take sacrifices and time, but it will be worth it when you get there.
  • Keep a food journal. It helps you to truly understand your habits better, even if you think you already know them.
  • Avoid processed foods.
  • Cook your meals as often as possible. Jeff says he now cooks 90% of his meals, and not only does it help control calories, but also ensures that his food tastes exactly how he likes it.
  • Include vegetables! Jeff finds creative ways to include fruits & vegetables in every meal. He’s a fan of smoothies and shakes.

    “You can eat healthy without sacrificing taste.”

  • Having a workout buddy can be a huge help. When you’re starting out, it’s an advantage to have someone hold you accountable and encourage you.
  • Being healthy is a lifestyle, not a short-term thing, and once you get into it, you’ll like it way more.

Resources discussed in this podcast

On Jeff’s workout playlist

  • Sound System by Operation Ivy [ Amazon / iTunes ] Amazon recommends for fans of Rancid, NOFX, Bad Religion
  • Lightning by Matt & Kim – [ Amazon / iTunes ] Amazon recommends for fans of Passion Pit, The Naked and Famous, Phoenix

Jeff was mentioned in a prior Tips Of The Scale interview by his former trainer Jess Hatton. Hear her first-hand description of Jeff’s awesome work and results at around 31 minutes of this interview(If you or someone you know would make a great Tips Of The Scale guest – let us know!)

Jeff can be reached on Twitter at @BadCountingJeff – say hello!

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