Lessons Learned on My Journey to Health and Weight Loss in 2022

In 2022, I made a significant change in my life. At the end of 2021, I weighed 365 lbs, the heaviest I had ever been. Seeing myself on TikTok videos made me realize how fat I had become and that I needed to make a change. While scrolling through TikTok, I came across Chris Terrell, a weight coach who had successfully lost and maintained a loss of 125 lbs. His approach, called CICO (calories in, calories out), involved tracking my food intake, maintaining a caloric deficit, and getting movement every day. His approach was realistic–you didn’t gain the weight overnight, and you aren’t going to lose it overnight.

Although I am no longer on TikTok, the lessons I learned from Chris Terrell have stayed with me.

I had tried losing weight before, but I always struggled. I even spent thousands of dollars on a weight loss business that was advertised on the radio, but it didn’t work for me. Chris’ approach was different and seemed simple. The fact that his podcasts were free made me more inclined to trust him.

Inspiration also came from an unlikely source – my dog. My French Brittany Spaniel, Cocoa, needed to lose 10% of her body weight according to the veterinarian. I remembered that when we had a dog with a similar issue about 10 years ago, substituting some of her kibble for vegetables helped her maintain a healthy weight. So, I started giving Cocoa green beans for lunch, and her weight improved. This made me think, “if it works for the dog, why not me?”

I also disliked how restrictive diet plans like Atkins and Keto were. These plans prohibit certain foods and can lead to rapid weight loss, but the progress is often reversed when the program is stopped. I didn’t want to go without eating bananas for ten years.

I set several loose rules to guide me. These are my personal rules, you will need to come up with your own:

  1. Don’t eat if I’m not hungry–I’ve been so trained that you have to eat three meals a day, and if my wife had made dinner but I wasn’t hungry, I would go ahead and eat anyway because I didn’t want to make her feel bad. Now I don’t eat if I don’t feel hungry.
  2. Don’t eat foods that make me want to eat more of the food. I don’t think there are any “bad” foods, but some foods make me want to eat more of them. That’s the problem with donuts, pizza, and chips–eating one makes me want to eat another one.
  3. Willpower can be learned and developed–by saying “no” to something I like, it becomes easier to say no to it in the future. By giving in to something I wasn’t planning on having, it becomes more likely that I will say yes to it or other things. I put myself in situations like driving through fast food drive-throughs to get my family dinner without getting myself something, and it increases my resistance to the stuff I used to eat.
I also increased my movement by regularly walking my dogs for 2-3 miles a day. As I saw my weight dropping, I wanted to challenge myself. I remembered that 16 years ago, I had run a half marathon and thought, “I wonder if I could run again?”

Even when I was a small child, I never ran anywhere. I was always the clumsy kid with really big feet, and I never really knew how to run (and never saw anybody in my entire family run).

Even though I had never been a runner and didn’t know how to run properly, I decided to learn. So I started by watching Youtube videos and learned that I didn’t know the posture I should have or how I should step when I run. I also downloaded some guided running apps (started with the Apple Fitness + app, later moving to the Nike Run Club app). These were great for a starting runner as they would tell me how I should run, move my feet, stretch, etc.

I started running the first week of July in South Carolina when it is 90 degrees and very humid. To prepare, I would go to the YMCA and sit in the sauna and get comfortable with sweat running down my face. I learned from this experience that I was afraid to sweat, but once I got used to it, it was no big deal. Think of how much effort and expense we put into being comfortable, and how afraid we are that we will lose that comfort (worry that the AC will break down in the summer, for example). Our pioneer ancestors would be ashamed.

To stay committed to continuing a behavior, I need a goal. In 2007 I have run the Myrtle Beach half marathon. Google told me that the 2022 Myrtle Beach half marathon was on October 15, fourteen weeks from when I started to prepare. Could I do it again? And could I possibly finish it in the same time I ran it 16 years ago?

In October when I crossed the finish line, my finishing time was 30 minutes faster than it was in 2007. 47-year-old Joel was faster than 32-year-old Joel.

So 2022 was a big year (ending with a smaller me):

  • 65 lbs lost
  • Under 300 for the first time in over a decade
  • Waist 42 (from 48)
  • Hair shorter (thanks to the Old Crow Barbershop)
I write this not to say I’m great–I really feel like I have just started. My goal is to lose another 70 lbs over the next year or so and to keep it off. Here is my “why” (and I hope it can help you to find your “why” if you are wanting to make a similar change):
  • I want to be out of the “obese” BMI range before age 50
  • I want to be under the maximum weight limit of the average ladder so I can safely change light bulbs without risking my life
  • I want to be a better example of good health habits to my children
  • I don’t want to have debilitating back pain when I get older
  • I want to be an effective caregiver to my wife
  • I don’t want to be the middle-aged guy who has to take naps
  • I want to be able to ride any of the rides at an amusement park
  • I don’t want to waste the gift of health that God gave me

4 thoughts on “Lessons Learned on My Journey to Health and Weight Loss in 2022

  1. Nice post, Joel. It was realistic and not one of those overwhelmingly positive NEW YEAR, NEW ME blurbs. As a boon, I immediately got off the couch and completed the workout i’ve been putting off for hours. Thank you for your wisdom.

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