Health

The ‘most important habit’ one man adopted to lose 180 pounds

Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Anthony Brown is 34, 6’5”, and currently weighs 195 pounds. In 2011, after steadily gaining more and more weight, he finally decided to pursue a healthier lifestyle after his sister was diagnosed with diabetes. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.

“I’ve always been bigger than the average person.” (Photo: Courtesy of Anthony Brown)

The Turning Point

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when weight became an issue for me. I’ve always been bigger than the average person, but I’ve always excused it due to my height. After I graduated from high school, things began to really spiral out of control for me. Over time, I found myself having to shop in the big and tall sections of specialty stores. Soon after that, I realized more and more people began referring to me as “Big guy” and “Big man.”

In 2010, my younger sister was diagnosed with diabetes, which was a surprise to me because I wasn’t sick and I was even bigger than she was. I knew if she was diagnosed with this life-altering disease, I couldn’t be far behind. It was at this moment that I really understood that something needed to change.

I knew I had let myself go, but I was unaware of how much weight I had gained. I stepped on a scale with a maximum weight of 375 pounds and instead of reading a number, it said “ERR.” I was heavier than 375 pounds.

“I was heavier than 375 pounds.” (Photo: Courtesy of Anthony Brown)

The Changes

I tried several different diet plans during my weight loss journey (keto, low carb, eating clean) which all worked to some extent, but I found myself questioning the purpose and sustainability of these diets. I eventually realized, it wasn’t about what I ate, it was about how much.

I decided to start counting calories. This would allow me to eat whatever food I wanted, whenever I wanted, as long as I kept track of the calories. I went online and found a calculator that could estimate the number of calories my body needed every day to stay at the same weight. At my weight of over 375 pounds, I needed 3,400 calories to maintain at that weight, so I decided to eat at a 1,000 calorie deficit, which was 2,400 calories a day. That would allow me to lose around two pounds a week. What I ate for those 2,400 calories, was pretty much whatever I felt like eating, as long as it was within my calorie limits. This included pizza, burgers, potato chips, french fries, candy, fast food, etc. My only rules were: Stay in a caloric deficit, and if I can’t count it, don’t eat it.

For the first six months of eating at this deficit, I was able to lose weight without setting foot in the gym or working out in the slightest. It wasn’t until I hit around 300 pounds, that I decided to start working out, and that was only because I was afraid of getting loose skin due to the rapid weight loss. Like most overweight people, I was intimidated by the gym. I didn’t want to be the “fat guy” that everyone was looking and laughing at, so I decided to just use my apartment building’s gym. The first routine I did was a three day a week full-body routine primarily using dumbbells — my apartment gym didn’t have much else to work with. Utilizing this plan for about three months, I was able to develop a good base, and eventually get to the point, where the weights we had in our apartment gym were no longer heavy enough for me to get a good workout. Then, I started going to a big gym, and began using a five day, one muscle group a day split, which is the same workout routine I still use to this day,

My biggest motivation came from watching the numbers on the scale drop, even though I was eating all the food I loved to eat. I felt almost as though I was doing the impossible. What kept me from giving up, was knowing what would happen if I did. I didn’t want to be sick. I didn’t want to die young. I had so many plans for my life and I was determined to see them out, and not to let something like food or my weight hold me back. Another motivator were all the people who doubted me. At the time, I knew of no one else implementing this type of diet to lose weight. People would ask me all the time about my diet plan, and when I would explain how it worked, and the types of food I would eat, they would have something negative to say about it, so I wanted to prove them wrong.

“I wanted to prove them wrong.” (Photo: Courtesy of Anthony Brown)

The After

After losing the weight, I noticed people treated me better. I definitely noticed people were more social and more receptive of my presence, but maybe that was just due to my increased confidence. I regained a lot of the confidence I had lost over the course of the weight gain. I had always dreamed about doing television shows, and doing some sort of modeling or something in show business, so I began trying to do those kinds of jobs.

The biggest surprise to me about weight loss is how I don’t have as much loose skin as I thought I was going to after losing 180 pounds. I attribute that to the fact that I started weightlifting and lost the weight at a relatively slow pace.

“If I can’t count it, I don’t eat it.” (Photo: Courtesy of Anthony Brown)

The Maintenance

I really haven’t changed the way I eat or workout since I started on this weight-loss journey. I still weight train five days a week, Monday through Friday, working one muscle group a day (chest, back, shoulders, legs, arms).

As far as diet is concerned, I still try to eat at a calorie deficit, but one thing I did incorporate to make dieting easier is intermittent fasting. This helps to eliminate the urge to binge eat all day, which is something I struggle with.

The most important habit I have developed has been to meticulously count my calories. I still follow the rule “If I can’t count it, I don’t eat it” and that keeps me accountable with the things I’m eating. I do, however, allow myself one cheat day a week where I’m able to eat whatever I want even if I am unable to count the calories.

Binge eating remains a struggle for Brown. (Photo: Courtesy of Anthony Brown)

The Struggles

The biggest thing I struggle with now is binge eating. Being on a diet for so long, sometimes you get the urge to forget about it and eat everything in sight. Sometimes I find myself in the pantry eating everything I can put my hands on. But just because I mess up one day, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. I force myself to count the calories even when I’m binging, so I can see just how many calories I’ve over indulged, and use the next couple of days to correct that with a stricter calorie deficit.

“Weight loss comes down to one key factor.” (Photo: Courtesy of Anthony Brown)

Advice

My best advice would be that weight loss comes down to one key factor: eating less calories than your body needs to maintain its current weight. It doesn’t matter if the diet is low-carb, high carb, high-protein, etc. Calories in vs. calories out is the main factor when losing weight. Sure, you can use low carb, or eat clean, but it all comes down to the number of calories per day you are taking in. The most important thing is finding a diet that works for you, that allows you to eat the foods you would like to eat, and is something you can stick to long-term.

Also, remember, this journey is not a race but a marathon. If you stumble and make a mistake along the way, you have the ability to fix things, and get back on the path. It’s only by sticking to the journey that you will eventually reach the end. And trust me, it’s well worth it.

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