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Name: DJ "Foodie" Williams
Height: 5' 8 1/2"
Before Weight: 352 pounds
How I Gained It: I'm a chef. I know everything about cooking food and ingredients. However, there's a giant chasm between “preparing” food and “eating” food. One I excelled at and the other... not so much. Working in kitchens, it was easy to eat a lot, but sweat it out aggressively running around professional kitchens. Whenever I would have a desk job, those same grazing habits or “convenience eating” habits, would cause massive weight gain. Ultimately, I hit a point where it just felt hopeless, and I was stressed and the eating was both the cause and the relief. Knowing full well that I'd passed the point of no return, I allowed full gluttony. I just stopped caring and adopted horrendous eating habits, while trying to be secretive by never buying too much junk food at once. I'd do things like purchase a healthy ingredient, like a tomato, as well as a few doughnuts, put them in my car and return to the store and buy a zucchini and 4 frozen pizzas. The idea being that no one would ever catch me with a lot of junk food, all at once. Sad, but true.
I was this overweight sweaty oaf of a man, straining and heaving, struggling to breathe, just to sit upright. I would get distracted by the sounds of my own breathing. About every 30 or 40 breaths, my body would take over and require a big deep inhalation. People noticed I wasn't getting enough air and was always struggling to breath. Everywhere I went, I was followed by the ubiquitous question, “Are you all right?”
Food -- my love, my pride, my joy, my training and schooling, my profession, my entire reason for living -- was killing me.
I would try to eat less. I would try fad diets. I did silly things like “The Subway Diet.” Nothing seemed to work, and I'd just wallow, sad and alone, with a comforting pan of fresh, homemade lasagna and a pile of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
I knew I was broken. I knew I was overextended. I knew I was diabetic and I knew I was losing my vision. I knew my feet had weird prickly sensations all of the time. I knew my back hurt. I knew I had all kinds of crazy abdominal pains from morning til night. I knew I was dying, but, I also knew that I couldn't stop striving to build my business. I knew I couldn't stop paying my bills. I couldn't fold to the pressure. I had to stay the course, which involved frighteningly gluttonous eating routines.
Breaking Point: My business failed as a direct result of my weight, health, demeanor and personal presentation. That shattered me, completely. It was also the first time in my life where I had no professional connection to food. I was destitute with a deteriorating and expensive house in a crumbling market. I was languishing and morose. I had lost my way.
I took a hard look at my situation and goals. I reevaluated my priorities. Trying to be financially successful and a rockstar chef had eluded me, and here I was -- shattered. I needed to fix me, no matter what.
How I Lost It: All of a sudden, I had enormous extra time! I walked a lot. I lived about a mile away from the beach. My goal was to walk to the beach and back, every day. That was it. It was horrible, sickening and sweaty! There was no direct route, so it took a lot of “bushwhacking” to get to the beach. At 350 pounds, this wasn't pretty. It involved a lot of sitting, heavy breathing, accepting burrs in my socks and dirt on my forehead, but it's where I started. It would take me about two hours to do the full round trip. I never really concerned myself with being pretty or focusing on perfection or grace. My only goal was to beat yesterday's time, even if only by a few seconds.
Believing I was diabetic, I used that spare time to read about blood sugars and controlling blood glucose through diet. My theory was, I could get my health under control through a change in ingredients. Weight loss wasn't exactly a priority, at this point. I just wanted to be not sick; at the very least, to not die in my 30s.
I was slowly arming myself with what was revealing itself to be a low-glycemic, sugar-free way of eating. I read a book that my mother gave me, Dr. Gundry's Diet Evolution: Turn Off the Genes That Are Killing You and Your Waistline. It was recommended to her by our family doctor. It fused everything I'd been reading and spoke to me, at a time when I was willing to listen. This book has become one of the defining elements in my life, and my way of eating permanently changed, that day: March 18, 2010.
On that day, I sat and wrote out what was to form my new life goals. I wrote about my pain and a plan for the future, both for health, but also with a professional tie-in. I am, at my core, what I do (I love food, what can I say?!). Once I establised a new set of rules to adhere to, I was able to create an endless array of delicious foods. I never feel hungry or “wanting” for anything.
I do feel as if I can't eat out, because there are no options that exist for someone working on a whole foods, no grain, sugar-free way of life. The challenge becomes finding a restaurant that can more or less work within my way of eating, without compromising the experience of my friends and family. My solution has been to cook at home and have friends and family over. This generally works (and people love it!), but not for the impromptu night on the town.
I dropped close to 50 pounds within about two and a half months. My trips to the beach had turned into a carved path, where I could speed walk to and from. I graduated to the gym, where I lifted and alternated with yoga and cardio. This was also hard, but eventually it became routine and felt odd when I didn't go! Today, exercise feels good! I lift weights -- hard -- and do some cardio on the treadmill, stationary bike and elliptical machines. I've been working with a personal trainer who just completely ruins me, every ... single ... time!
My new purpose in life is to eat well and write about it! Three years and nearly 150 pounds later, that's exactly what I'm doing!
As it turns out, I did not have diabetes. My weight continues to slowly and effortlessly glide to lower levels. At the very core of my beliefs is the idea that anyone can change their situation, whatever the situation. They just need to adopt better habits. Change is hard. Normal is easy. The idea is to achieve a much better normal. By 2014, I'd like to be under 200 pounds. I'll get there -- one slice of bacon at a time.
After Weight: 210 pounds, with a goal of 199 pounds or less
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