I was raised in a very American home as a kid. My family ate out every single night growing up and I developed a huge dislike for vegetables and fruits. Fast food restaurants and pizza parlors were the only kind of food I ever got. As I got older, my tastes in food didn’t change, but I did notice I was getting bigger and bigger. At the time, I didn’t think twice about it, as everyone in my family is overweight.
Emotionally the weight always got to me. In high school, I developed a personality where I would just make jokes and laugh at everything else so people would not have a chance to make fun of me and sense my insecurities. I started dressing in all black because I felt like an outcast. In high school you notice that people your age can eat and eat and not gain a pound, but I knew that would never be me. I cried every time I ate because I knew deep in my heart the foods I was eating were not the answer, but I didn’t think I could eat anything else. I did not have the will power to do so. I was diagnosed with arthritis in both of my ankles and I could hardly ever breathe. In no way did I think that I could lose weight.
During my junior year in high school, I reached 362 pounds. For a 16-year-old to weigh double the weight of a healthy adult, I knew something had to change. I got a job at McDonald’s to start making money so I could try buy my own food. However, that plan backfired when I was around food all day. By January 1st 2011, I’d had enough. I quit my job and took the money saved up to the local World Gym and bought a year membership.
Starting off, my mind was on the future. I had no idea what I wanted to be. I did not know my options of what I could be. At first, I only did cardio. I didn’t really change my eating habits at all.
Weight came off a little, but not nearly what I wanted. About two months into my program, I opened up a Bodybuilding magazine and I walked one morning for an hour, just reading it. I loved everything about the struggles and how dedicated these men were to their sport. I knew instantly what I wanted to try and do.
As my research went on, I read what to eat and what not to eat. I tried to focus more on whole foods and stopped going to fast food restaurants.
Being overweight your entire life, you grow comfortable with sweet foods. You get used to the quick solutions for a meal. I struggled with the whole "cheat meal" craze during training, so it was really important to me to find foods that felt like cheating even though they’re good for you. I stock up on Quest Products because their nutritional profiles are awesome, they’re delicious, and there are so many creative ways to use them. Stocking my cupboards with Quest bars, chips, and powders has helped me reach a point where I’m completely free of mental stress over “bad food” desires.
It was hard to resist, but I tried to avoid a daily trip to the scale and focused more toward weighing myself on Sundays. That was my motivation at the end of the week. Each Sunday, my weight would drop. I would jog for one hour in the morning before breakfast and then right after school – I would do my weight training. I had no days off. I truly put my mind to this as I felt time was ticking away for me. After 7 long, hard months, it was official: I had gone from 362 pounds to 240 pounds! I was beyond happy with my progress.
My biggest supporter through it all was me, myself. I made a complete lifestyle change. I counted my calories, stuck to a bedtime so I wouldn’t snack at night, and prepared my food every Sunday for the week. But it didn’t stop there. I wanted to know how far I could push my body. My mind was now focused on being a competitor, as it still is today.
I presently weigh 182 pounds and I am training to compete. I try to absorb everyone’s knowledge about fitness; it’s such a unique world that I feel everyone should be a part of. Every single time I’m in need of some new motivation, I can simply go online and see all these people with a changed life. Now my biggest supporters are my followers. The fact that my story can have an impact on so many people amazes me, but it also shows that we all have the same goals in life. We want to feel healthy, we want to look healthy, and we want to be the best possible selves we can be. When people ask me how to start, I always respond “believe in yourself,” because that’s who gets you through it all. I know now that one day I will be a great competitor. I’ve come so far already there’s no turning back.
David’s Five Tips to Becoming a Better You:
1. Never say “I can’t”
I am living proof that anyone can do this. I have learned more than anything that if you tell your mind it can do something, your body follows. It only gets better with time.
2. Be patient
It is not something that can change overnight; you get out of it what you put in. It might not happen the next day, the next week, or even the next month, but you are always a step closer than you were before.
3. Plan your meals
This helped me greatly. I can go out and have quality time with friends and family, because every Sunday, I make my meals for seven days and can always bring them with me.
4. Don’t torture yourself
Giving up the bad foods does not mean giving up everything you love. There is always an alternative to what you can eat that will satisfy your cravings. When I lost my weight, Quest made it possible for me to eat fine again, without any mental stress.
5. Learn from your mistakes to help yourself
This is my own most important tip. No matter what life throws out there, you can achieve greatness. Yes, you are going to make mistakes, but you need to learn what is best for your body and what works for your body. You are not the same as anyone else, so find what works for you.