Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Jonny Watson is 34 and currently weighs 250 pounds. In 2015, after a sobering doctor’s visit, he decided to get fit for the sake of his health and his daughter. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.
The Turning Point
I have always been chubby, but about 10 years ago I was diagnosed with stage 2B Hodgkin’s lymphoma. During the chemotherapy and radiation process, my thyroid gland became inactive and I ballooned up to more than 400 pounds.
My lifestyle was out of control. I was eating junk food nonstop. I hadn’t been to the doctor for a few years and I was having a lot of health issues. When I finally went, I received several troubling diagnoses. I had sleep apnea, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. I was told I had to do something about my health or I’d be lucky to see 40. I felt like I had to get healthy so that I could be there for my daughter, who is my world. I felt selfish that my lifestyle was killing me and that it would have such negative repercussions for my family.
I listen to Kevin Smith’s podcast and he addressed his weight loss in an episode. He recommended the documentary Fed Up. After watching it twice, I was inspired to tackle a sugar-free diet.
The first step I took was to get rid of added sugar in my diet. Now my diet consists of mainly meat and vegetables. I eat three meals a day. A standard day for me would be a hamburger patty with a cup of Brussels sprouts for breakfast, baked chicken and two cups of broccoli for lunch, and for dinner, I’ll fry a steak and eat two cups of asparagus with it. I only drink water — lots of water.
When I first started, I had very sore ankles and feet, so I would walk as fast as I could for an hour, up and down my street every day. After three months of doing this without ever missing a day, I was down 70 pounds. After that, I decided to join a gym. I now lift weights and do 40 minutes of cardio, six days per week.
To stay motivated during weight loss, I looked at pictures from my early 20s, when I was in much better shape. I would listen to music and get lost while exercising, just fantasizing about how good I would look if I kept working so hard on my fitness. I also wanted to be able to ride roller coasters at Six Flags with my daughter, which I was able to eventually do.
I was also motivated to ramp up my weight loss when I won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Marlboro Ranch in Montana when I weighed 375 pounds. I had five months to get under 300 pounds so that I could participate in all the activities. I went to the ranch at 275 pounds and was able to do everything.
For the first five months, the number on the scale was going down, but I didn’t feel like I looked much different. The real key was working out. In three months after joining the gym, my shirt size went from 5XL to 1XL, and my pant size went down from 52 to 38.
I have so much more energy and I’m finally happy with the way I look. I have regained my confidence. I can horse around with my daughter without worrying about throwing out my back. The difference in my health is staggering. My blood sugar and blood pressure are both in the normal range. My sleep apnea is gone and I don’t even snore anymore. Even my depression has disappeared.
I have learned that if you can stick it out for a month, it will become a habit. Now it’s hard for me not to work out and eat right.
I am still practicing the same habits that led to my weight loss. I believe avoiding sugar will drastically improve your body, and I know sugar is a hard habit to break. I’m a recovering addict, but I needed to give it up to regain my health. I keep my cancer diagnosis and my “before” picture on my fridge to remind me of how far I’ve come and to show me where I don’t want to go.
I like the way I look, so it’s harder to stay motivated. I haven’t gained weight, but I have been maintaining and not losing. I do fall off the wagon every now and again. The moment I have sugar it turns into a cheat day. I try to limit my “cheats” into a single meal to keep it under control.
It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. If you fall off track, get back on. Don’t let your progress disappear.
All photos courtesy of Jonny Watson.
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