I have to admit that I get sucked into The Biggest Loser TV show most seasons. I find it fascinating to observe the transformation people make, not just physically– but psychologically– as they lose 100 or more pounds. Of course, contestants on the show have the ranch, celebrity trainers, a 24 hour gym, chefs, nutritionists, and the TV cameras to keep them on the straight and narrow. Makes you wonder, is it possible for people who do not have the supports of an extreme TV show to lose a large amount of weight? Most real people are muddling through their real lives, trying to figure out how to live their healthiest life amidst the array of challenges and hurdles that real life brings. Where is Jillian when you need her?!
When I joined Twitter a few months ago I noticed a lot of people tweeting about their weight loss journey, many of whom have lost a significant amount of weight and some who are in the process of doing so. I found myself searching these people out, wanting to follow them as a way to get into their “heads” by reading their daily tweets. I want to know how real people lose weight. People with jobs. Marriage. Kids. Stress. Life. I asked a few of these real people if they wouldn’t mind being interviewed about their weight loss journey. This is the first in my series of interviews of real people. First up is Christopher Boggs, formerly 452 pounds, now 262 pounds. Be prepared to get inspired.
Occupation: Financial Planner
SP: How much weight have you lost?
CB: At one point I had lost 214 pounds from 452 lbs to 238 lbs, however currently I weigh 262 lbs which is a current loss of 190 lbs.
SP: When did you start losing weight?
CB: In 2004 and main focus in 2007.
SP: How long have you kept it off?
CB: More or less since 2007
SP: How was it that you decided to make such a major life change?
CB: I have always been active and “thick” but my health and weight got out of hand, obviously and I knew I had to do something about it. My wife, Amanda and I had been married since 2003. She is very trim. 5’10″ 115 lbs or less . . . She has a serious genetic advantage! We’d decided not to have a baby until I was healthy. I didn’t want to bring a child into my misery of obesity. I was very hard on myself (still am) and I wanted to teach my child a better way and more importantly – lead by example.
SP: Failed attempts are frustrating! Did you have failed attempts?
CB: Daily. No exaggeration. There are constant obstacles for me personally and I tend to allow myself to stumble on them, however I get better at hurdling those obstacles each time.
As for major fails . . . Several. There is a learning curve as well as the realization for me that diets don’t work. I don’t say diets don’t work for everyone. To me weight loss is a personal thing, but diets seem to be band aids or baby steps towards the realization that:
1. If you’re fat (and I was super-duper fat!) everyday will be a struggle to lose weight.
2. Fads, diets, books, they can assist, but true health comes from living in it. From top to bottom, no F’ing around.
It’s a tough pill to swallow or at least it was for me and I still struggle with it. Being healthy and slim is a way of life and you have to live that life in order to have it and no diet, book, or magic pill can do that for you. My demon is fried chicken. Fried damn chicken! I love me some fried chicken! I don’t eat it anymore. (I have to put in an exception here, I just completed www.ragbrai.com a bike ride across Iowa and I did eat fried chicken 3 times). This was unwise and irresponsible, but a learning point. I was excited to burn 4,000 up to 7,000 calories a day, I thought I deserved some fried chicken. I was wrong and I am frustrated with the choice today. I eat and exercise like a healthy person should. That means I don’t get to have some of the things I like, but I like me as a result of that choice.
SP: How often did you try to lose weight but fail in the past?
CB: Failure is just a fact of life and I think you have to accept it. This morning I over-ate for breakfast. I failed, but what can I do about it now? I can think about it, reflect on it, and make decisions NOW on how to better act at my next meal or in this case – I was eating at this really cool diner in the middle of Missouri and I just HAD to try a little of a few different things . . . You know why . . .you’ve probably had the same thought process or reasoning I had this morning . . ”I may never be able to get something like this again, or this good, or this type of cuisine, or blah blah blah . . .” I just had to have it! Next time, I will remember and focus on the idea, that all food can be unique and if I ate it all I’d be as big as a house! This may not seem like a big deal or it may sound elementary, but I had to start with baby steps years ago. I had to learn simple things such as:
1. Breathe while you eat
2. Chew and eat slowly
3. Stop eating the second I feel I’ve had enough (even then it can be too late)
My point is this will be a forever learning curve for you personally. You may be at square one and learning WHAT to eat and what not to eat or you may be a little bit further along and are learning portion size and control. I still have a long way to go and hope to learn everyday and improve everyday because the good news is . . . IT ACTUALLY GETS A LITTLE EASIER!
SP: What is the one piece of advice you would give to people who are having difficulty losing weight?
CB: I would advise in two ways . . .First – decide if you’re serious or if you just playing around with the idea of being healthy. Don’t waste your time with trying to lose weight unless you’re serious and are ready to sacrifice to have success. This will not be easy, but it will be worth it. I guess what I am saying is, don’t bullshit yourself. The sooner you admit that you’ve got a problem and that you – YOU – are the only one that owns it and that means, you’re the only one who got yourself here (I realize there are influences and personal circumstances that contribute) and YOU are the only one who can truly get yourself out – the sooner you’ll be on the right track to success. So no more bullshit. No more excuses. When you slip up, OWN IT. When you miss a training or exercise session, OWN IT. Don’t make excuses, other people don’t buy it and neither do you really. Second – accept that it’s not easy and any success is success and you should be comforted in that knowledge. If you’re weight isn’t pouring off of you, maybe that’s the way it is for you. If you’re gaining while truly no bullshitting, working at it . . . then you need to examine your efforts. I recommend talking to healthy people about what they do, talk to trainers about exercise programs, use cool iPhone or other apps that have you log your food and exercise – I do this daily and it’s mind-boggling at first!
SP: Sticking to it is the ultimate challenge. Most people can make some changes but often end up back to where they started. For you, what is the key to STICKING TO IT?
CB: Consistency – the single most difficult part of healthy living for a fat person like me. I chose triathlon to help me remain consistent. I use triathlon by doing several races per year. This keeps me focused and almost scares me into swimming, biking, and running regularly because if I don’t, I’m going to flop when a race comes around. I also never want to be fat again. It’s a tough place to be and it was tough to get away from so that also keeps me focused, however I have a problem with consistency and sticking to it as do most people. When I fall off, I don’t make excuses. I get up and I get back on it and sat back where I left off. I get better and better at remaining healthy and sticking to it every day, but it is probably my biggest struggle.
SP: If you could give your former self advice before you started to lose the weight, knowing what you know now, what would you tell yourself?
CB: For me personally I needed someone to tell me to focus and stop pretending and get to work, no more bullshit. Then I would tell myself that I know a better life. This is such a better life. I was in an ugly place when I was so obese. I didn’t like myself. I was embarrassed to be seen in public. I was angry. I had no hope. Knowing now that life is good is such a motivator. I actually like myself. I have my struggles daily with self image, weight fluctuation, and other issues, but I enjoy putting on clothes or wearing less of them. I still get to eat and enjoy food, friends, and family but in a different way . . . A better way.
SP: Just starting off, losing weight is hard. Tell us, does it get easier over time? Or harder?
CB: Wow, tough to question. It’s both. It is hard to make the monumental changes I needed to make in the beginning. I had drastic changes in everything from what I ate, to how much I ate, to getting out and moving, but once I got those things started and honestly took ownership of my issues that had gotten me to 452 lbs . . . It became easier. Once I stopped blaming other things and making excuses, it became easier. Now at this moment . . . It’s difficult again, but for other reasons. It’s harder to lose weight because I’ve got less to lose. Sounds like a good thing, but for me it’s so FRUSTRATING! I’m having to learn new things and ways to become more healthy than I was yesterday. All in all, it’s a good thing, but frustrating and difficult. As I said, this is a daily battle that I am sure I will fight forever, but that’s ok.
SP: What is the hardest part for you now?
CB: Juggling training for Ironman triathlons, being a husband, owning a business and most importantly raising a beautiful 2 year old daughter who I want to struggle less with self image and health than I do. There seems to be less time in a day, but that too . . . IS AN EXCUSE. I make the time, but it is difficult.
SP: Anything else you would like to tell us about your journey?
CB: I’m very happy today. 5 to 6 years ago I was very unhappy. I realize this is a daily battle and I’m going to win some and lose some, but I have to keep trying and owning my mistakes and success.
SP: If we want to follow you, where do we find you?
CB: On my blog www.tri-ingfatman.blogspot.com there is a history of my battle and success over the years. I have pictures, stories etc. (no recent posts, but this may be the motivation I need) Twitter @BigBadBoggs (be afraid! Not for the PG-13 crowd). I’m always open to questions and thoughts, post on my blog any thoughts. I wish you success.
SP: Thanks Chris. You are an inspiration to us all.
Chris finishing an ironman race.
Chris, his wife, and daughter