Name: Michael Tew
Occupation: Video Editor
Hometown: Wylie, Texas
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Start Weight: 368 pounds
End Weight: 199 pounds
Time Running: 18 months
For much of my life, I had a sedentary lifestyle; I was never athletic, and getting out of the house to move was not a priority. Obesity and related health issues run in my family, and my habit of eating mindlessly had led to my weight going up to 368 pounds.
In 2018, my wife, Deborah, and I signed up to walk a 5K with our church. We were excited to participate and do something healthy for ourselves. But about a half-mile in, everything started hurting and my breathing became labored, so we made the decision to turn around.
That 5K forced us to realize that in order to enjoy the rest of our lives and not be trapped by the fact that we couldn’t walk a long distance, we had to change. Through research and asking others about their weight-loss strategies, we decided to undergo weight-loss surgery.
But, we were both skeptical. We’ve witnessed several people have surgery and lose weight, just to gain it all back. There’s also a lot of people out there who believe weight-loss surgery is the easy way out. Instead, we view it as our tool to jumpstart our weight-loss process.
Our surgeries were two hours apart in August 2019, and that’s when our journeys truly began.
After surgery, I knew that I had to find my “thing” for exercise. For me, that was running. I used to walk a lot, but I thought it would be cool to be able to run, so I started later in 2019. Those early runs were difficult, clumsy, and awkward. I became discouraged because I could only run a few feet before stopping to rest. A walk-run plan helped increase the distances and time I ran each day.
But there’s a weird thing about running. It sucks, but doesn’t suck so bad that you don’t want to go back out the next day. Results can be immediate from day to day, and nothing can beat the feeling of earning a personal record, no matter how small. Over time, that builds up until you feel so good one day that you feel like you could run forever. Then it sucks again, and the cycle repeats. It’s a rollercoaster, but it’s one worth riding.
My wife and I also worked on our eating habits post-surgery. My taste for carbs was insatiable from as long as I can remember. I grew up with an abundance of soda, sweets, and empty carbs; I would stop at my favorite convenience store after work, buy four doughnuts, and eat them on the two-mile drive home.
There wasn’t much weight loss until the short window of the mostly liquid diet, two weeks before surgery. The body goes through an initial shock in the days right after surgery, but about a month or two after surgery, the weight loss really ramps up. It was easy, because we were so limited as to how much we wanted to eat. We weren’t eating many calories, and we weren’t expending much energy either.
As the months went on and our bodies adjusted to the surgery, we started eating more and more calories, and our energy started increasing, we were seeing success that we’ve never seen before. As time went on, we also started understanding how important it was to start new habits that included becoming active. We eat lots of protein, with some vegetables, carbs, and fat.
In October 2020, to keep myself on track and progressing, I signed up for the Dallas Half Marathon. It took months of training after over a year of working to lose weight, but I can’t tell you how good it felt to cross the line in 2:47:33 on May 2, 2021. It was a struggle after mile six, but I fought through the mind games that told me to stop, and I finished strong. Deborah was waiting for me at the finish.
I feel so much more alive, having lost 200 pounds. It’s amazing to me how we can get used to aches, pains, and other inconveniences, but it is so freeing when they go away. Like not having to request a seat belt extender on a plane or running—running!—farther and farther. It boosts your confidence and empowers you to set even bigger goals.
Our journey also inspired a private Facebook group. I knew I needed accountability, just like so many out there. So, we created a group that now spans 21 states and even spread overseas. Members encourage each other daily, with all abilities and ages welcome. It’s $10 to join, and that $10 becomes a jackpot at the end of each month. Every 20-minute workout earns an entry, which isn’t the primary goal of the group, but it’s a fun, additional motivation. (If you want to join, email TheFitnessJourneyChallenge@gmail.com.)
To anyone wanting to go on a similar journey, my advice is to find your “thing.” Whether that’s the gym, running, yoga, whatever. Find that thing and stick to it, even when it gets hard. Anything worth doing isn’t easy. There are no shortcuts, pills, fads, etc, that you can buy. Working hard is the only way, and if I can do it, so can you.
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This content was originally published here.