While twiddling my thumbs at an Anchorage health fair a few weeks ago, a gal approached my booth (just the second person to come by in over 2 hours, mind you) and asked what "Make Yourself" was about.
I gave my twenty second awkward spiel and then immediately diverted the conversation back to her lead (my close friends will tell you I'm not a huge fan of talking about myself, my mentor would then tell me that, that's bad business).
However, today it worked for the better, because this wonderful lady, Marie, or 'Rie as she endearingly introduced herself, had the most incredible story to tell about her and her husband, Dave.
One thing lead to another, and I sat across from Dave this past Saturday to learn more about his dramatic 100lb. weight loss transformation.
Dave was an active young man back in the day, going for 50k skis and playing on various soccer teams. Then life happened, as it tends to do to us all, and the time for himself shrank.
Before long, this full time volcanologist, dad, and husband, found himself inactive, overweight, and in the doctor's office staring at the hard truth that his weight, blood pressure, cholesterol, and other numbers, were all outside of a healthy range.
“I felt like I was being a bit of a hypocrite as a scientist to not follow the advice of people who have decades of experience and study, just as I would be irritated if I were in that position [as a volcanologist]."
The Turning Point
When 18 years old, Dave's father tragically passed away at the young age of 53, and last year at age 51, Dave recognized that he didn't want to follow the same path and be around to see his two kids grow up.
This, along with some uncomfortable nerve pain, led his doctor to recommend a change in his diet and to incorporate exercise into his life. Soon after, Dave enlisted the help of a dietitian to help him get on the right track with his diet.
Recognizing Dave's love of numbers the dietitian gave him three parameters to track: calories, carbs, and fiber.
He used a free app to track these things, and abided to what he (very Alaskan-like) calls the "Grizzly Bear Diet", where he didn't restrict anything like fad diets mislead you to do. It was all about making good choices based on professional guidance.
He made the investment to put an elliptical in his home, and carved 45 minutes out of his day, everyday, to spend working out. He swapped his daily dine out lunch habit for a homemade salad and whole wheat turkey sandwich, and found dinner meals he enjoyed, but were also good choices.
All of these factors, combined with the support and gentle encouragement of 'Rie, he started to watch the extra pounds start to come off.
"It was like ‘okay this is what I’m eating’, and I burned a lot of sweat, I mean this isn’t easy. One third of me entered the atmosphere as heat, water, and carbon dioxide. I like that image, a third of me sort of up there in the atmosphere.”
No one was more shocked with the weight loss than Dave himself, who confessed that "I didn't think it was possible to lose weight and be more fit. I thought that ‘I missed my opportunity.’ But you don’t know until you try, it does take discipline, but do you want to do this or not? It’s easy to rationalize that sitting and watching one more football game or eating a whole pizza by yourself isn’t going to matter in the big picture, but it does.”
There came a point where he plateaued and it bummed him out so he tried compensating with more exercise to overcome the hump, but realized that sometimes ”your body just needs to readjust and [my advice] is to not fixate on that, get through that and realize that [plateauing] can happen.”
"This is my story, this has worked okay for me, and I recognize that some people really, really struggle, and the way I did it may not work for everyone."
Responsible Weight loss
A take away from my talk with Dave that I personally love and will recommend to my clients in the future, is his rule of thumb, which, for all intents and purposes we will call "The Dave Rule": If you are going to have something that you enjoy, which isn't the healthiest thing, make sure it's good. Don't eat crappy pizza, if you are going to have pizza, it better be the best.
When asked how important he thought it was to still eat the things he enjoys, Dave responded, “I think I denied myself those things for a pretty long time, so now I’m willing to just let myself enjoy it a bit more. I see other fit people eating these things so I realized you probably can’t eat this kind of stuff while you are trying to lose weight, but you can have them every now and then when you are trying to maintain weight. There’s a big difference.”
“None of this is outrageous, I still eat foods that I enjoy. Otherwise you’re just going to be miserable.” Another thing I really recommended to people is to talk to a dietitian, don’t try to do this on your own. And talk to a good dietitian, if you don’t like the person you meet with, go find someone else.”
In closing, Dave still continues to learn and grow on his journey, now starting to focus on weight training to build muscle and increase his resting metabolic rate to stop burning through muscle with all his aerobic exercise.
He is now energized by life and continues to be motivated by progress, gains, and improvement in his appearance and health. As he continues to scale all of Anchorage's mountains, his motto "It's a great day for up" seems to resonate through every aspect of his new and improved quality of life! Thank you for sharing your story, Dave! You are an inspiration to us all.