How I Lost 125 Lbs.

Since March, Club VIBES members have been involved in the National Fitness Challenge sponsored by the United States Association of Blind Athletes in which they are committed to walk 10,000 steps, roughly five miles, daily for six months. This guest blog outlines some of the more dramatic benefits of the program.

Jared Jackson

A little over two years ago, I had reached the horribly lofty weight of 382 lbs. and had no legitimate plans on how to get rid of the excess fat and water. I wanted to have a fit and trim body but didn’t want to put in the work to reach that fit physique again. I gave excuses why I just couldn’t get rid of the excess weight such as my multiple medical issues from a brain tumor at age nine.

To avoid the obvious weight loss solutions of keeping down my caloric intake and exercising (because both of those would take a lot of work), I tried many different diet plans with little to no positive results.

I knew I needed to exercise in order to lose weight. However, I gave every excuse I could think of as to why I couldn’t do something so simple as walk in my neighborhood for exercise. It was always too hot, too cold, too dark, raining, snowing, and/or dangerous with traffic. So, between an inability to get enough exercise and medical issues which kept excess weight on my body, I decided I would never lose the weight.

Then, my mother came up with a solution. She proposed that I walk in our house using a continuous pathway formed by two adjoining rooms and two adjoining hallways to form a little indoor track we’ve lovingly nicknamed “Mini Bristol.” The track is approximately 48 ft. around and takes 110 laps to walk a mile. I tried it for a few laps and got so dizzy I gave up once again.

After realizing I was at the end of my proverbial rope on trying to exercise (because I couldn’t drive to a gym and treadmills seem boring), I gave my mother’s walking path a good, honest try. This time, I was barely able to walk a quarter of a mile before my feet and lower back began giving me fits so I stopped power walking for the day. I walked 30 laps once a day for a week. The next week, I was able to do that twice a day and had lost 4 lbs. with just walking that little. Plus, I noticed the more I walked our little track, the less dizzy I got.

Over time, I’ve continued to increase the distances walked per day and am now walking 13 miles a day on a regular basis. I’ve even walked as much as 18 miles. in one day. I’ve transformed myself from barely fitting into 4XL shirts and Size 54 pants to now wearing 2XL shirts and Size 42 pants. Granted, I also watched my calories. I’ve gone from being on high cholesterol and high blood pressure medications, and weighing-in at 382 lbs. to having no problems with my cholesterol and blood pressure and weighing 257 lbs. Praise the Lord for all He has done to get me to this point.

Here are some tips that have really helped.

1. Getting Started

One of the worst mistakes people tend to make in getting started with an exercise and/or weight loss regimen is to take on too difficult of a routine. Any good trainer will tell you to never start out doing too much because it’s not good for your body. Plus, if you start out trying to do too much, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Everyone has different capabilities, so it’s important to gauge your exercise according to what your body’s capable of doing.

I recommend timing how long it takes for you to walk/run a set distance, and monitor how you progress over time.

As one of the coaches on “The Biggest Loser” said, “Just do what walking you can, and do that same amount of walking each day for one week. The next week, do exactly what you did the first week and try to do a little bit more.”
I’m a shining example of just how well this advice works for the laziest of couch potatoes. Don’t strive to go from sedentary sloth on Monday to making Richard Simmons look like a slug on Tuesday. Just do what you can, plus a little more over time.

2. Dedication

Even through back pain, massive headaches, foot pain like blisters, hurt tendons, and gout-like soreness (knees and ankles that don’t always want to work correctly), and anything else that made it incredibly painful to walk, I kept walking at least a mile a day. WHY? Because I know as soon as I don’t, I’ll give myself every excuse in the book to not exercise the next day, and the next day, and the next.

It’s important to schedule a time or times each and every day to power walk or do whatever other exercises you need. Then be sure to stick to that schedule as closely as possible.

I recommend keeping a journal of how far you’ve walked each day or week so you can compare later on just how you’ve progressed.

3. Eat the Elephant

In the past, I’ve been an avid dreader of any exercise because I told myself how exhausting and boring it gets and I want to quit before I’ve even started. Then, I remembered some incredibly wise words I’d heard some time ago: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

I never tell myself I’m getting ready to go on a four-mile walk. That’s exhausting just to think about. However, I’ve found that I don’t mind doing small sets of laps because it doesn’t feel like I’m doing so much exercise. So, I like to break it down into 22 sets of 20 laps. I highly recommend starting out with setting tiny goals. Set a goal that you know you can easily accomplish like losing 1 lb. over your first month of dedicated dieting and exercising and you’ll be amazed how well you do and be thrilled when you totally blow past your goals.

Then, set new goals. I’ve found that, once you get your body in shape to walk or run at a respectable pace, it’s a great idea to THEN start setting goals that are beyond what you’re used to doing (bigger chunks of the elephant). Have fun!

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