Battling depression and a life of debilitating obesity, Dustin shares the side of the mirror he had to face to become the best version of himself.
“I believe that there is a more powerful person inside all of us and you just have to search.”
Weight Gain Background and Contributing Factors
A self described computer nerd and introvert, Dustin had spent most of his life behind closed doors, spending his days playing video games and watching TV. Dustin did not have much knowledge on dieting and exercise, and battling depression made his fluctuating weight even that much harder to tackle. At his highest weight, Dustin had seen himself reach 343 pounds as a size 50 pants.
How Being Overweight Impacted Dustin’s Life
For most of his adult life, Dustin did not actively pursue weight loss or a fit lifestyle. He mentioned feeling resentment when others would push him to lose weight, and any attempts on his part were short lived. In his twenties, Dustin began feeling the effects of a weighing over 300 pounds (136.3 kg). Dustin struggled with health issues, difficulty walking, difficulty sleeping, chronic pain, and shortness of breath while completing day to day tasks.
“I just had chronic pains in my body, whether in my knees, legs, and ankles… pretty much everything all over my body hurt.”
Dustin had little interest early on to become healthier, even though it had begun to severely affect his life.
“I was spiraling out of control, but the odd thing is, I never really knew it was an issue because I had never known a life that was better than what I was living, so I wasn’t aware of how bad my condition was at the time.”
The Turning Point
In April of 2013, Dustin’s work had hosted a corporate fitness challenge, one that he had opted out on. During this challenge, he fell ill with the flu, and realized during his recovery that his sickness was more serious than he had originally believed. He felt that he needed to make a change. Dustin joined a gym with his friends and began walking on the treadmill five days a week.
Starting The Weight Loss Journey
Dustin immediately began to overhaul his life. He stopped drinking alcohol, smoking, and completely changed his eating habits by cutting out processed sugar and junk food. He started working out five days a week by walking, and then running as he gained endurance. Not one to stray away from the truth, Dustin admitted how difficult it was in the beginning.
“The first 30 days were the toughest 30 days of my life”
Working on himself meant not only facing physical challenges, but mental ones as well. As Dustin became acquainted with hunger pains and shin splints, he cited an exercise in mental toughness to make it through.
Dustin began using LoseIt, an app that tracks calories in food. As Dustin saw what foods had certain calories, he started focusing on the health of his diet. He now sticks to leaner meats, staying away from more processed foods. Once per week Dustin allows himself a cheat meal, and then a larger cheat meal once per month to allow him to balance his lifestyle.
Dustin contributed his success to the support he received from friends and family as he documented his journey on Facebook. He also states that meeting new people, sharing new experiences with others in the gym was an incredibly motivating experience for him. Dustin began to enjoy seeing the changes happening to his body as he pushed forward. He enjoyed documenting the process and the support he received has loved ones began to see the monumental changes he was making in his life.
“I was happy the day I realized I was no longer morbidly obese.”
During his physical transformation, Dustin also had to come to terms with the mental changes, good and unexpected. Dustin faced himself the most, dealing with becoming a different person and struggling with not allowing his ego to get ahead of him. “I had to take a very long look at myself throughout this process and look at my life.“
“This process is 90% mental and 10% physical.”
His first year, Dustin focused on fat loss and cardio, citing walking then running as his usual routine. Learning about what it meant to lose weight quickly and deal with extra skin, Dustin began weight lifting and focusing on strength. It has become a hobby for him and a passion, as he wakes up five days a week at 4 am to work out for an hour at least.
What Dustin Learned About Food, Exercise, and Him/Herself
Dustin learned that he was capable of being a much more confident person, not only in the gym, but in all aspects of his life.
“My confidence level has translated into everything I do every day.”
Dustin believes that he became a better person through the experience, and doesn’t regret not starting earlier.
“I wake up every day, and there’s an energy there that wasn’t there before. I appreciate more about life today than I did before.”
In addition to the newfound confidence, Dustin also saw the other side of weight loss. He began to see how differently he was treated as a recognizably thin man as compared to before his journey. He noticed how overweight people are judged harshly, and recognizes how that can be damaging to the person being scrutinized.
“There’s a lot of people in the world who subconsciously judge you and act differently just because you look different.”
In response to the negative reception and view of overweight individuals, Dustin speaks out passionately about the importance of treating others with kindness.
“I think in a lot of ways, a supportive more loving approach is the best way to address that situation, rather than being judgmental and trying to tear that person down.”
Dustin’s Advice For Your Journey
Dustin believes that all bodies are different, and the process takes trial and error. He also reiterates the importance of continuing through the difficulties, and fighting to becoming a better version of yourself.
“Once you find something that works, stick with it. Because your body is going to be different than someone else’s body who’s trying something different and its working for them.”