Amazing Losers, our series of inspirational before-and-after weight loss stories are back with a bang this week with Chris’s story, which is one we definitely relate to. Being a little too comfortable in your relationship? Tick. Trying to shop at stores that don’t have your size? Shudder, tick. If you’re in the same boat, read on to see how Chris went on to lose 69lbs…
Name: Chris Mansell (ask him anything over on the forum)
Location: Vancouver, Canada
Occupation: Business developer
Highest weight: 240lbs (17st 2/108.9kg)
Lowest weight: 171.5lbs (12st 3.5 / 77.8kg)
Weight lost: 69lbs
How did you get to the position where you needed to lose weight?
Being a newly married person with two incomes and all the time in the world, we spent far too much time in restaurants. We lived in a very small apartment that was difficult to cook any decent meals in so it was just easier to go out and grab something. Pair that with not getting any good exercise and you have a recipe for weight gain.
What negative experiences did you have of being overweight?
Probably the same as most people. I remember trying on suit jacket at a store and having them say they didn’t have a jacket in any larger of a size and I’d have to shop elsewhere. That’s embarrassing. Getting winded walking up the stairs was quite embarrassing too.
What made you decide to change?
It started with a hiking trip to a waterfall I went on with my wife. We got to the top of the trail and there was an option to hike some rocks to get closer to the water. She was super pregnant at the time and was already tired, but was willing to give it a shot. I felt fine. When we started hiking up the rocks I got light headed, my heart raced and I almost passed out. I had to sit on a rock and get myself collected while people hiked around me.
The whole time I was thinking I’d have to get airlifted out of this place and how terrible it is for me to bring my pregnant wife on a trek and have a heart attack or something. I ended up being ok, but from that point onwards I knew something had to change. I didn’t like the idea of taking my kids to water parks and having to take breaks on my way up to the water slides. That really pushed me into making some changes, but it took more than one of these moments to hone in on the skills where I actually change something.
How did you do it?
I started researching a lot of methods of weight loss. I wanted to lose weight but not gain it right back again. I think doing the research was actually just a subtle way of being lazy. It was easier to sit on my phone and read about getting healthy than get up and do something about it.
Eventually, I ran out of excuses and settled on calorie counting. I calorie counted for a year and lost my first 30lbs pretty easily. I started introducing more and more workouts to help me push past the many plateaus I hit.
Over the span of 2 years, I lost the majority of my weight but I hit an impossible wall at 182lbs. It didn’t seem to matter how much I worked out or calorie counted, my body just didn’t want to lose any more weight. I was introduced to a fitness trainer overseas that had developed a program specifically for dads to lose that ‘dad weight’. It was the biggest breakthrough I made. Eating right, proper exercises and doing it all in a long-term, manageable way was what I needed. I started tracking my macronutrients along with doing high-intensity workouts at home. This combination pushed me past the wall and I’m still losing weight consistently every week.
Had you tried to lose weight before? If yes, what made this time different from the times before?
I lost about 25-30lbs back when I was in college. I probably would have kept losing weight and was on the right track in my mind, but my life took a pretty big change in regards to work and where I lived and then I started planning a wedding. It was an incredibly stressful time and it took my focus off taking care of myself. The difference this time is I have children looking up to me. I had to make a change or I might have had an actual health crisis before I could see them grow up.
You haven’t really mentioned your weight loss on social media, was this intentional? If so, why?
It was intentional. I know a lot of trainers or weight loss programs encourage social media adaption to keep you accountable. The program I’m in now has a group on social media of like-minded dads in a similar situation.
I just saw too many failures on social media. I see people jump online and share their goals and reasons for doing so, post about it for a month, max, and then just go back to the way it was before. No better off and probably a little embarrassed.
I love my friends, but they aren’t going to keep me as accountable as my own family will. And I didn’t feel like I needed to worry about being part of that drop-off statistic. I think people give up sometimes the moment they feel like a failure, and a person will feel like a failure in a weight loss journey MANY times. I didn’t need the extra negativity honestly; I was good enough at that on my own.
Forums like the MAN v FAT Forum and my weight loss group are better though. There’s value in having places to get advice and ask questions. I was a frequent visitor to MAN v FAT over the past couple years and it helped me stay motivated and inspired. The journey can be daunting, and having people going through the programs with you can add tremendous value.
What did you eat before you lost weight? Can you give us an example of a typical day’s food?
“Healthy take-out” like Subway which made me feel like I wasn’t making a poor choice (marketing magic at work). Lots of large fry combos and high-calorie drinks and sauces. I’ve cut back on all these things but I still eat the same as before, just in moderation and with more purpose.
What do you eat now?
Lean meats to keep my protein levels up (helps keep me feeling full and helps with muscle regeneration). Lots of protein shakes/bars. Plenty of vegetables and half the amount of carbs I was accustomed to from before. Honestly, I eat mostly the same foods. I’m just smart about it now and know when to say “no”.
What was the most difficult thing about losing weight?
Holidays. Any excuse to eat poorly can be made up on a long weekend, over Christmas/Thanksgiving, or during “cheat meals” on a weekend. When you actually track what you put in your body, it’s pretty easy to see why people balloon up during those periods. There were times in the journey when I didn’t lose weight in a week even though I kept my macro’s and calories in check, and those are hard to overcome. It feels terrible to work so hard for a week and then have no apparent progress to show for it.
How did you overcome these difficulties?
I learned that the scales are only valuable for a certain amount of time. Eventually, your body starts levelling out and your weight doesn’t change as quickly. In those moments I reminded myself that this is a long-term game, not just for a slimmer body but also just better health in general. If you can’t get over those moments during the journey, you’ll probably gain the weight back again after you hit your goal. What’s the point of continuing past your goals if your only objective is to see the scale drop?
How has life changed now that you’ve lost weight?
I have seen a noticeable change in my energy levels and ability to stay active for long periods at a time. Mentally I’m much more confident in myself. I’m wearing medium sized clothing now (almost need to change to small in some cases). Plus, all my furniture appreciated the break.
Who supported you the most on your journey and how did they help?
Unintentionally, a coworker of mine. He made an innocent statement about how hard it is to maintain diets long term and said “good luck” to me. I interpreted it as “you’ll never pull it off’ and it fired me up. I used that misread as fuel to keep going. Having family/friends mention my transformation has been great motivators to keep it up too. It’s always nice to hear the words “are you still losing weight? I can tell!”
If you could go back to the person you were at your heaviest, what would you say to him?
Stop researching and just start doing something. I’d also mention that there are at least 2 little kids that will be watching everything I do and I need to set healthy expectations for them.
You have 3lbs to go until you hit your goal weight – how will you celebrate?
For at least a week, I’m not doing any burpees. I’ll buy some nicer clothes that I don’t have to toss out in a month’s time. I’ve almost hit my “dream goal” so I think I’ll just push that number a bit and see where I can get too. This is a long-term change.
Now that you’ve lost weight, how are you planning on maintaining your weight loss?
The tracking of my food and the exercise I’m currently doing is sustainable long term. It’s not a fancy diet or a life-sucking workout program. It’s just good, healthy living. I’m pretty sure the guilt I feel when I make mistakes in the program now will carry on, but that will keep me on the straight and narrow.
You’re Prime Minister for the day – what law would you bring in to help combat the obesity problem?
Weight loss financial aids. I’ve had to replace my wardrobe 3 times, that’s a huge cost every time! I’d make a discount or tax return program for healthy eating to help people not feel financially punished for getting healthier.
What three things do other fat men need to know about losing weight?
1. Don’t fret over “failures” along the way. Even if you lose weight and gain some back over a week or two, just get back out there and adjust. It’s all about trial and error because everybody is different.
2. Your worst critic is going to be yourself, and your fan support will probably show up a bit late. But when your fans do show up, appreciate the support and use it to your advantage. Prove to them what you’re able to do.
3. The key to success is 80% diet, 20% exercise. Don’t burn yourself out physically or mentally in the gym right off the bat. It’s not worth it. Get your eating under control first, learn how to treat yourself once a while, and you’ll start seeing changes just from this alone. You’ve got this!
Many thanks to Chris for sharing his inspiring story with us! Got any questions for him? Head on over to the MAN v FAT Forum to pick his brains. If you’ve got a story you’d like to share, don’t forget that we’re always looking for weight loss stories to feature, so get in touch if that’s you!