How To Lose 50 Pounds

I posted on my Facebook account yesterday that I had finally reached the milestone of 50 pounds lost on my journey to a healthy lifestyle. It has now become my most liked post of all-time, nearing 200 likes at the time I am writing this. It was also followed with a flurry of congratulatory comments; all of which I will use as inspiration as I march on to the 60 pound barrier and beyond. 50I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of positive sentiments from all of my friends and family. I am truly blessed.

I also received quite a few private messages and texts asking me how I accomplished this achievement. Trust me, I haven’t found some miracle weight loss herb, regimen of pills, or the latest combination of foods that will trim your waistline. I know that is not what most of you would like to read, but that’s the truth. The formula for losing weight has never changed; burn more calories than you take in and the weight goes away. It’s not rocket science, but somehow some of the smartest people in the world can’t figure it out.

I, myself, have obviously had problems with this formula for my entire life. I have tried virtually every diet plan known to man short of a surgical procedure. I experienced varying levels of success with each of them, but in the end I still ended up weighing over 400 pounds.  Even though I am working hard to live healthy, that is a fact that I am embarrassed and ashamed to write. So, why this time? Why is this time different? Better yet, why will it stick this time?

If you were looking for the answer to how I lost 50 pounds, this is the part you were waiting for. But, my secret is not in the how,

Grimace or Me in a purple dress shirt.

Grimace or Me in a purple dress shirt.

but in the why. A few months ago, my wife and I sang a song during a church service. I had a friend of mine record our performance and what I saw made me sick. Not the performance, it wasn’t half bad, but looking at myself in the purple dress shirt I was wearing, I couldn’t tell if that was me or Ronald McDonald’s friend, Grimace. The world hadn’t seen that much stretched purple fabric since Violet Beauregard decided to grab a wad of Willy Wonka’s experimental three-course meal gum. If that had been the only thing that had happened to me, I probably would have done another fad diet, lost 10 or 15 pounds, and then gained it all back plus some.  But, Grimace on stage was just the beginning or this journey. What happened next was the key to losing 50 pounds so far.

After I saw myself as I was, I talked to one of my co-workers who had just started juicing. It seemed simple enough, but she told me before I do it I needed to watch a video called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. It would explain the juicing process and the theory behind it. I fired up Netflix that night and what I saw would change my life. Not because of juicing, but because of the stories of the people in the video.

Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead is the story of how Australian bloke Joe Cross is able to turn his life around through the power of juicing. At 310 pounds and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, Joe is at the end of his rope. So, he vows that for the next 60 days he will fast only drinking the juice of fresh fruit and vegetables. He travels across the U.S. making his documentary while promoting the benefits of his diet.

While at a truck stop in Arizona, Joe meets a truck driver named Phil Staples who suffers from the same rare condition as Joe does. Phil, who weighs-in at 429 pounds, decides to join Joe on the 60 day fast and both of them are able to change their lives for the better.  But, it was Phil who caught my attention. He was just a few years older than myself and weighed a little bit more than I did, but I saw myself in Phil Staples, and I didn’t like what I saw. His gross obesity had turned him into a shell of the man he had been before. He was on oxygen, taking pills by the handful, and rode a scooter everywhere. At 45, he was on Death’s doorstep and had been knocking on Heaven’s door for awhile. It was not what I wanted for myself in 7 years.

That moment was the key to my weight loss. Phil’s story was a paradigm shift in how I viewed dieting. I no longer wanted to lose a few pounds, I had to lose the weight. That might seem like semantics to some, but to me it is all the difference in the world. It is the difference between dieting and living healthy. I now truly believe until you have that moment when you come face-to-face with your mortality and realize that the extra weight is going to kill you, you will spend your life dieting and not living healthy. Your weight loss has to become an essential part of your life as much as the air you breathe.

Of course, while I have given you the gold to take away from this post, I know that will not satisfy everyone. So, here is a few tips on how I got to where I am so far…

  • The first thing I did was consult my doctor about the safety of a juice fast. This was mainly to calm my wife’s nerves about this new fad, but it also was informational to me as well.  He gave me the green light and so I was off.
  • I did the strict juice fast for three weeks straight using over-the-counter juices such as Naked and Bolthouse Farms. After that time, I added food back in slowly. Usually, I did the Slim Fast version of juicing. I would have a juice in the morning for breakfast and one at lunch, then have dinner with the wife and kid at home. Other than how amazing I felt, the main benefit of the juice fast at the start was that my stomach had shrunk. Even the meals I ate were now half the portion size of before.
  • I started working out religiously. I go to the gym 4-5 nights a week, but only for 30 minutes at a time.  I do 15 minutes of weight training and 15 minutes on a stationary bike. I have a bad knee, so the treadmill is out until I am considerably lighter.
  • This is my fun one. Everyone reading this is busy. That is just a fact of the world in which we live. So, fast food is unavoidable. Face it. But, now when I go to a drive-thru, I order a kid’s meal anytime there is one available. I let the restaurant control my portion size instead of relying on myself to control it. I don’t have too good of a track record of controlling my portion size.
  • Lastly, but probably most important, is to not beat yourself up every time you slip up. This is not a diet. You are not cheating. There are no cheat days. I have had candy, cookies, ice cream, cake, nachos, and just about any other junk food you can think during this time, and I don’t feel bad about it at all. The thing I have done is not to deny myself, but only take a small amount when I do grab a sweet. I do not, however, drink the fully-loaded sodas. Those are just empty calories. If I do choose to drink a soda, it is of the diet or zero variety.

You can throw all of those tips out the window if you don’t have the right mindset. They are worthless on their own. Living a healthy lifestyle makes each of those things so much easier to do. I don’t find myself tempted nearly as often as I used to be. My hope is that maybe this will inspire at least one person the way that Joe Cross and Phil Staples have inspired me. But, don’t be afraid to look within your own life for that inspiration. I have a beautiful wife and daughter that deserve the very best version of me that I can be. I need them and they need me, and when you have that kind of motivation, there is nothing that can stop you from losing the weight you need to lose.

About Richard Howk

Fiction author with my first novel, Pariah, available December 2nd.
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1 Response to How To Lose 50 Pounds

  1. JL Fischer says:

    I am so proud of you Richard!

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