- Name: Tim Powell (ask him anything on Talk)
- Height: 6’1″ (185.4 cm)
- Job: Software Project Manager
- Age: 50
- Location: Utah
- Highest weight: 295 lbs (133.8 kg)
- Lowest weight: 212 lbs (96.1 kg)
One aspect of your story that I love is that you did a cost comparison between being overweight and losing weight and decided that being fit and healthy made financial sense!
I wanted to lose weight and a friend recommended I go along to a place near me called Total Health and Fitness. It employed dietitians, nutrition experts and personal trainers and I decided to go in for a free consultation. They required at least a three month commitment with weekly visits, but in return they would teach and educate me on how to eat, exercise and lose weight in a safe, healthy and maintainable manner. While there was a cost involved for their services, the cost was similar to the price of the sleep apnoea equipment rental that I was going to have to start using. When I weighed the future costs of paying the costs of medical treatments and medication, the decision became easy. Plus having to pay added an extra measure of accountability – I wasn’t going to make a bad investment!
Let’s rewind a bit because I want to focus on where your weight came on – what was the cause with you?
I have a mostly sedentary desk job, so I get little exercise during the day. On top of that, my company caters lunch every day. The foods that were provided were like large vats of lasagna swimming in cheese and grease, chicken cordon bleu, beef stroganoff and that sort of thing. Plus there were snacks, treats and desserts like chips, chocolate bars, éclairs, cake and brownies. I would tend to graze on food constantly, and it didn’t stop when I got home. We frequently had fast food, pizza and ice cream. I wound up weighing 295 pounds when I was 48.
I love The List that you made. We’ve had a go at summarising all the bad things around being an overweight guy but I think you managed to create a list longer than ours on your own! Let’s hear it then – what are the worst things about being overweight according to Tim Powell?
Ok, I might risk being accused of being long-winded, but this is the complete list I made:
• Not being able to see my feet! My belly was so large that when I looked down, I couldn’t see my feet. Or for that matter, my weight on the bathroom scale.
• Heartburn. Eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted sounds fun on the surface but it came with a price. I had to take a heartburn pill every night to stave off heartburn and reflux, and that didn’t always work.
• Weak legs. I remember every time I got out of the car having to plant my leg firmly on the ground in order to support my weight as I got out. If I didn’t do it just right, I would feel slight twinges of pain and weakness.
• Not being able to wear t-shirts or polos. I know plenty of overweight people wear t-shirts and polo shirts, but in my opinion they don’t look good. They make you look fat because you are fat, and they just aren’t as flattering as cotton shirts. So cotton it was, day in and day out for 20 years.
• Breathing hard and feeling winded. We have a two story house, and just walking up the stairs would make me huff and puff. Any significant activity really wore me out.
• High blood pressure. My blood pressure was high and I was taking two medications to control it. After a couple of months of exercise and eating right, I was able to drop them. While they might have helped keep my blood pressure down, they caused me to have brain fog.
• High cholesterol. I had high cholesterol due to my poor eating habits, and was taking medication which yet again had adverse side effects.
• Sleep Apnoea/snoring. I had just been diagnosed with sleep apnoea, and my wife said I was a severe snorer.
• Feeling self conscious. I felt self conscious about my weight. Actually, I was a bit in denial until I caught glimpses of myself in mirrors or photos and realised how bad my problem was. I really don’t judge other people who are overweight. The most I feel is a bit sorry for them, since I now know what they are missing in life.
• Lack of activity. I didn’t swim, I didn’t play with my kids, I didn’t bike, I didn’t swim, I didn’t go on hikes. I was pretty sedentary. I would come home from a desk job at work exhausted and tired, have dinner, sit on the couch and fall asleep. Now my wife might say that I still do that on occasion, but I do feel a lot more energy in general and am adjusting to a more active life.
• Not fitting. I remember being extremely uncomfortable on planes, spilling a bit over my seat and almost to the point where I needed an extender.
• Short ties. I know this sounds funny, but when you’re fat, your tie has a longer way to go to meet your belt buckle! I would have to tie my ties almost to the end to get them to the normal length, and the short part behind couldn’t be tucked into the tie itself because it was too short.
• Rubbing thighs. The inside of my legs rubbed together a log when I walked, and caused chafing and soreness.
• Ballooning clothes. Because I was a bit in denial, I chose not to go to larger sized clothes, instead feeling incredibly uncomfortable and tight in the clothes that I had. I had to buy a size 56 suit for my daughter’s wedding in May of 2013 because I wanted to be comfortable. It was depressing, because I went to Macy’s and they didn’t have a single suit in the entire store that fit me – that had never happened to me before. I had to go to a specialty big and tall store. I also wanted to not appear as fat as I was, so I bought one of those slimming T-shirts to shape my upper body a bit better. I tried it out for a day before the wedding and was so uncomfortable I just made do. I also found that my cotton work shirts were starting to rip quite often, very puzzling, I thought!
• Wearing a bath towel. This sounds funny, but it bugged me that I couldn’t actually fit a bath towel around my waist. I had to wear a huge, hot, uncomfortable robe getting ready every morning.
• My wedding ring. My wedding ring was wedged into my finger it looked like a hoop that a tree grew around over the years. Now it slips off with ease and doesn’t pain me. Not that I want to slip it off!
• Hygiene. Ok, I’ve always been a clean guy, shower every day and very hygienic. But I’m sorry, when you’re that fat it gets hard if not impossible to reach certain places to clean. I know, TMI.
• Not caring about myself. It’s strange, but since I wasn’t eating right or exercising, I didn’t care much about my clothes, my hair, my teeth, my skin or my general appearance. A general lack of concern about my body, inside and out.
So you had your motivation and you had recruited experts to help, how did it go?
They monitored my progress, helped me plan food menus and exercise plans. I supplied the determination, they supplied the planning and education. I was able to consistently lose about 2 pounds per week over an 8 month period and lost a total of 75 pounds. To sum up the approach I tried to eat more vegetables, lean meats, and less sugar and processed foods. I had a specific caloric target each day (about 2200 – work out your daily calorie targets here) and some macronutrient ratios I tried to hit.
I think for everyone else, it seemed like my journey was smooth and the weight came off easily. For me, it felt like I had to fight for every pound and really learn a lot of discipline, especially in eating. Even though two pounds a week sounds fast and healthy, which it is, when you have 75 pounds to lose the journey seems long. I had to think of a lot of ways to keep myself motivated along the way.
I really love the “Fortress of Fitness” idea that you created – can you tell us about it and how our readers can use the same idea?
As I was losing weight I created what I called a “Fortress of Fitness” around myself to ensure that I wouldn’t be a statistic and gain the weight back. I rejected the concept of “forbidden foods” so I wouldn’t feel deprived, incorporating a cheat meal each week. I let everyone around me know that I was committed to living a healthy lifestyle so that I would feel more pressure to reach my goals. As I grew smaller, I got rid of larger clothes so that it would be unaffordable to regain the weight.
I also became a fitness enthusiast, listening to health and fitness podcasts every day and reading a lot of information on web sites. I became a fitness blogger (check out my blog here https://www.shrinkinguy.com), sharing my journey and lessons learned with others who needed help. I tracked my progress religiously – I even superimposed photos of myself taken each month so that I could see signs of change. I joined the 52 Day Challenge on the Men’s Health web site and volunteered to be a host. These and several other strategies I adopted to make it easier to keep off the weight than to gain it back.
Along with building their own Fortress of Fitness what other pieces of advice do you have for men who want to lose weight?
Everyone’s journey is different, and it’s hard to know what might help someone else commit to better health, but I would suggest:
1. Find your motivation. What drives you? To achieve better health? To be there for your children and family? To prepare for a wedding? Take some time to really understand the reasons why you want to get into better shape. These will help motivate you during your journey. I would suggest that doing it to please someone else won’t really help you through the tough, long process of losing weight.
2. Educate yourself and create a plan. It doesn’t help to just wake up one day and say “I’m going to lose weight.” Before you do anything, you need to figure out how you intend to do it. Are you going to adopt a specific diet? Are you going to exercise? What is your specific goal? How long is reasonable to achieve it? You really need a plan for success, otherwise you’re just planning to fail.
3. Incorporate strength training. It doesn’t have to be right off – if you’re severely overweight, start with some simple cardio like walking. But quickly try to incorporate some simple weightlifting into your exercise routine as soon as possible. Why? More muscle burns more calories, and you’ll burn calories throughout the day, not just during exercise. Your body will have more tone, and at least for me it helped ensure that my skin kept up with my weightloss.
As with all our Amazing Losers and their weight loss before and after stories, you can find Tim on Talk, where he is happy to chat through anything you’d like to know. It’s all free and it makes up the world’s biggest social network of men who want to get and give support around weight loss.