1998: I just found this other picture in the archives.
1997: Friends visiting me after the removal of my wisdom teeth.
Since I can remember I have always had a problem keeping my weight at a healthy stage. I come from a fairly large family, 4 sisters and 1 brother, all of whom are pretty healthy and to be quite frank, skinny! For some reason it seemed that I was the one who didn't have any problems putting the weight on. I went through middle and high school as an overweight kid, then entered adulthood, started college, got married, and started a family, all the while not paying any attention to my health.
At 29 years of age in February 2010, and at 236 lbs, I was tired of looking in the mirror at my stomach and I started thinking a lot about what I could do to get healthier. Probably like most people out there, I have carried a gym membership with me for years...but didn't use it as much as I should have. I just wasn't seeing results. I wasn't motivated. I could never find the time. I was always too tired to go. Other activities were more interesting to me. I had made a call to my local athletic club just to find out some information on what they had to offer and had thought about changing where I was exercising. I had set a time with the Gym Manager to meet face to face to go over some of the options that he had for me. When that day came I woke up and was doing my normal routine when the phone rang. It was the Gym Manager calling to remind me of our appointment. I was in the bathroom looking in the mirror while I was talking to him and I literally watched my eyes roll in annoyance that he actually called to remind me to come and talk to him. I remember telling him that I would try and make the appointment, but that something last minute had come up for work and if I didn't make it that I would call him back. Okay...now how many people out there can relate to this experience? Nothing had come up last minute for work. Work was fine. I automatically went in to panic mode because I realized that I really didn't want to go meet with him. Then I started thinking more about it...this was my shot. This was my opportunity to do something for me...but then I came back to square one and decided I wasn't going. I finished getting ready and headed out for work. For some reason...and I mean that statement with all sincerity because I really and honestly did not know the reason; but for some reason I turned the opposite direction out of my neighborhood and began my "journey" to the gym to meet with the Gym Manager. When I got there I took a tour of the gym with the manager and went back to his office to chat. He asked me what my goals were and what I wanted out of life. I told him I wanted to be healthy. He then asked me if I had a family. It was that simple question that changed my whole perception about life and about myself. Most would think that is an easy question to answer...but he had me sitting in his office in silence. I didn't say a word for what felt like hours. I finally answered him, informing him that I did have a family and that I wanted to be with my family forever. I didn't consider myself to be extremely overweight...but I knew that the path I was taking was going to take me to a place where I felt like I wouldn't be with my family. I realized I needed this more than I thought and I signed up for a membership without even a second thought! I expressed my concerns about exercising and seeing results , concerns about calorie intake and nutrition, etc. He asked if I would be interested in starting out my membership with a personal trainer. I thought that was a great idea and I was really starting to get excited about starting this whole process.
The Motivator: Man in Black
So I signed the contract and I was ready as ever to continue this journey. That is, until I met my trainer. His name is Ia and he came around the corner dressed in black from head to toe. Literally, from head to toe. I just about made a mess in my pants and was looking for the nearest exit while he was walking towards me. I thought to myself, Get out now Ryan. Just get out. I stayed. All the while feeling so uncomfortable, lazy, and fat. But as soon as he began to talk with me every single emotion, thought, and feeling left and I couldn't help but notice his genuine concern for me and what he needed to do to help me accomplish my goals. My goal was to lose 30 lbs before my 30th birthday...and I had 3 months to do it! We talked for a while, set up our trainings, he laid out a path for me, and I continued on my journey.
The first obstacle to overcome on my journey was diet and nutrition. I had no concept of diet and nutrition. If there was food on the table I ate it. If there was candy in the bowl I ate it. If there were sodas in the fridge I drank them. My trainer restricted me to a 1700 calorie a day diet on day one. That began to stress me out and my trainer automatically saw that. He didn't want me to feel stressed. And I learned why. When one gets stressed your body holds onto your food for safety...and no calories are burned. He explained what kinds of foods to eat and when and how much. He was great! He believed in me from the beginning and when I realized that I made a decision that I wouldn't let him down. I started my diet and began my training two days a week. The first few weeks were simple stretches and exercises that would let my trainer get to know my body and what I was capable of doing. From then on the trainings escalated and increased to three times a week and light cardio two times a week. About halfway thru my trainings I was noticing huge results and I was constantly smiling and so proud of what I had accomplished so far. When my 30th birthday arrived I was 4 lbs short of reaching my goal. But I did not feel defeated at all.
Secrets to Ryan's Success:
I have learned through this process to stop and celebrate the small victories along the way...instead of setting a goal that won't be met for a while I began setting small and simple goals that when they were met, gave me a huge lift and motivation to keep going harder and stronger. I learned by trial and error what and what not to eat. Everybody and every body is different! I had to learn what worked for me. That was the hardest part. I would have thought the lifting and the sweating and the pushing and the pulling was hard...but it's not if you keep your nutrition on the right track. I had never lifted a weight in my entire life so all this was very new to me. Once I started lifting and got on a routine I couldn't wait to get back the next day to do it all over again. My body began to crave exercise and I couldn't satisfy it enough! My trainer is my hero! He motivated me 24 hours a day, even when I wasn't meeting with him I was motivated to give him great results. It made all the difference in the world to me to have someone who believed in me waiting for me to answer to him with my progress.
Ryan's Slim-Down Techniques:
Cardio: 3x/week on treadmill, bike, elliptical, or stair stepper
Strength Training: 4x/week, starting with 10-12 minute cardio warm up. Working a different body part each day (chest and shoulders, legs and abs, arms and back, etc.).
Favorite exercise: Anything with Kettlebells. I love to lift, work on abs, biceps and triceps are his favorite.
"I've never seen a muscle pop out of my arm until I started working out! It was the greatest day of my life when that happened!"
After all this hard work, sacrifice, and change of mind, here is the payoff. I would say it's worth it!
Thank you Ryan for sharing your story!