David Young, a 46-year-old superintendent at Abilene Independent School District in Abilene, Texas, used to meet up with his district’s human resources officer for some bacon cheeseburgers on the regular.
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Then, in mid-January, he found out his friend had a heart attack.
When he was sitting in the cardiac waiting room at the hospital with his friend’s wife, he knew he had to make a change, too. “All I could do was picture someone with my wife having that conversation, that’s what did it for me,” he said.
At 320 pounds, Young had battled with his weight for years, but his friend’s health scare made him realize he needed to take it more seriously. Young and other administrators decided they needed to make changes for themselves and for the human resources officer to come back to a healthy environment.
“Quite honestly I thought to myself, ‘I just gotta make it through a couple months sucking it up, and then I can go back to what I was doing.’ I’ve seen that in myself before,” he said. “As I got into it this time, I could really tell I wasn’t dieting, I was living differently.”
Young said that in the past, food had been entertainment or stress relief for him, but this time, he wanted the changes to stick. He even met with his doctor and told him “you need to kick me in my shins about my weight.”
His doctor knew he was a math and numbers guy, so he told him to look at it in terms of calories in, calories out. If you have a surplus over your body’s maintenance level, you’ll gain weight, and if you have deficit—you burn more calories than you take in—you’ll lose weight.
With the help of his doctor, he set a goal of 2,000 calories a day, and day-by-day, he works hard to hit that.
And this time, Young’s been successful. In 10 months, he’s lost 104 pounds, and now weighs in at 216. Here’s how he did it.
He Learned How to Cook
“I didn’t do anything but change what I ate and how much I ate for first 30 to 35 pounds,” Young said.
He and his wife now use a meal-kit delivery service, and learned how to build healthy meals from those. Previously, Young ate many of his meals out, so he committed to his wife that he would come home and cook a healthy dinner. That’s been helpful getting his weight down, and it’s also given them more quality time together.
Cooking healthy meals at home has also helped him learn how, in whatever situation he’s in, to find success with food rather than fall off the wagon. His job has him attending banquets and receptions often, which don’t always have the best options for healthy food.
“When there’s healthy options, great, when there’s not, it’s about portion control,” he said.
He Built Up Slowly
After losing about 30 pounds from diet changes, Young got on treadmill. “I say I started jogging, but really, it started out as walking with a little jogging,” he said.
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At first, he was walking for three minutes and jogging for one at a time. Before long, it was two minutes of walking and two minutes of jogging. Then, he built up to one minute of walking and three minutes of jogging.
Now, he can run for miles. “I went out and ran 10.5 miles in 95 minutes the other day,” Young said. “The part that’s really surprised me is I’ve gotten to the point that I’m not just doing it—I enjoy and look forward to running.”
He Makes Technology Do the Work
“I’m kind of a data geek, and I like gadgets,” Young said.
Young uses the MyFitnessPal app to track what he eats and make sure his calorie intake is on track with goal he set with his doctor.
“When I’m going to eat a cheeseburger, which I still do, I put it into MyFitnessPal and I know what it costs from a calorie standpoint,” he said.
Along with religiously tracking his calorie intake in MyFitnessPal, Young said he’s addicted to closing the rings on his Apple Watch—meaning he hits his daily Move (calories burned while moving), Exercise (minutes of brisk activity), and Stand (hours where you’ve moved for at least a minute) goals. He has been able to close all three rings every day for about five months in a row, with one exception.
“One day in August, I missed closing my rings because I was up all night working on a presentation and my blood boils when I think about that day,” he said. “It’s my motivation.”
His bathroom scale is even connected to his phone, so he can log his weekly weigh-ins. Young says he learned he can get obsessive about the scale, so Monday weigh-ins help keep him on track without driving him crazy.
He Runs to the Gym
Young said that about three months into his journey, he began incorporating weightlifting into his routine to build muscle mass. His gym, which he goes to three to four times a week, is about a mile and a half from his house. When he has the time, he runs there and back, which allow him to add cardio to his weight training days, and as he put it, “kill two birds with one stone.”
He typically runs five times a week. During the week, he wakes up at 5 a.m. to run on the treadmill at home for about 45 minutes. But on the weekends, when he has more free time, he’ll run to the gym if he wants to get some lifting in, or outside if he has a longer run planned.
Next spring, Young and his family plan on running their first 10K together—and he will be working to make sure he continues with his healthy habits in 2019 and beyond, too. His goal? To be even healthier at 47 than he was at 46.
This content was originally published here.