When I was growing up, I was a skinny kid; if you told me that as an adult I would weigh over 300 lb, I would have called you crazy. My mom always cooked real food meals and I didn’t really ever get “junk food.” So when I got my first real job and moved out on my own when I was 21, I went crazy with those junk foods! I should probably mention that I didn’t really know how to cook, and who needed to with all of those handy meals in a box?! I lived off of Macaroni and cheese and all sorts of other franken­foods. I ate out a lot, because I was busy and that was just easy. I drank 2 or 3 bottles of iced tea a day instead of water, because it tasted good and I had no ideas that it had SO much sugar in it.

Here’s the thing, when you go from being fairly active and eating real food to sitting on your butt all day at work, eating nothing but processed foods and drinking sugar water … you’ll gain weight.

I tried to tell myself that it was just 200 lbs, then 225, then 250, then 275 … then, as long as I don’t get to 300 that it was fine. By the time I was 24, I was the heaviest as I had been 234, and I decided to start dieting. I took weird herbs with counted points; ate nothing but soup with counted calories and fat grams; gave up carbs, gave up fat … all sorts of things that I later learned messed me up even more. I would lose weight only to gain it and more back. By the time I was 31, I weighed 314 lbs and had spent over $10,000 on stupid diets (and I didn’t have that kind of money laying around).

It took me till age 33 to realize that if I wanted to lose weight, the real way I needed to do is doing it right. That meant eating real food and exercising. It wasn’t an easy process, I had no idea what to eat. I hired a personal trainer who taught me how to move again, but I was frustrated by the slow progress. I was still eating convenience foods only realizing that I was addicted to “diet” foods. You know the ones, low fat this, no carb that, frozen dinners, weird treat foods; they were really just chemical shit­storms created by billion dollar weight loss companies.

And then, something happened. I came across a book called “Eat Clean Diet” by Tosca Reno. I couldn’t put it down, it talks about sugar and Franken foods and how our bodies actually need fat to lose fat. I thought there was no way this could be right but what did I have to lose? I started eating real food and adding fat back into my life, and the weight started melting off. If you look at my progression pictures you can clearly see when things started to change.

Lessons learned. I’ve learned a lot over the years, including the fact that losing weight is the easy part, but keeping it off is the hard part. If you think it’s just about eating right and moving, you are forgetting one key ingredient, you need to train your brain as well or you will never find the success you are after.

After losing 145lbs (the right way), I became a certified personal trainer; but I was obsessed with learning more about nutrition. I had been watching people for years trying to lose weight, and no one could ever keep it off. I wanted to know how I could help these people. So, I decided that on top of my day job, I was going to go back to school and study nutritional therapy.

Close to 10 years later, I have kept off the weight, with the exception of gaining about 20 lbs while I was going through my divorce a few years ago. To be honest, I’m only just getting around to actually focusing on taking it off. I had to learn that sometimes your body and brain just need to rest.

I believe that no one should ever settle in life. If you’re not happy, do something about it. We all make choices and we all have the power to change. I’m not saying it will be easy; and I’m not saying that it might not be scary as hell ­­ trust me, ending an 18 year relationship was SCARY. What I will say, when you look inward and decide to love your life, and make a change no matter what it is, losing weight, gaining weight, changing jobs, or re­evaluating your relationships; it’s the most awesome and liberating thing ever.