Chris Terrell spent decades losing and gaining weight with fad diets.
After his father died, he decided to make a change, approaching weight loss in a new way.
He tried to lose weight slowly, ultimately losing 125 pounds and keeping it off.
Chris Terrell was 15 years old when his weight reached over 200 pounds, and never got below it again.
But it wasn’t until he stopped to reflect and changed his mindset that he finally lost the weight sustainably.
The sudden loss of his father prompted Terrell, who lives in Jonesboro, Arkansas, to make a change. At 290 pounds, he realized everything he’d tried previously hadn’t worked. So he would do the opposite.
Instead of trying to lose weight as fast as possible, he would go slowly. Instead of cutting out carbs, demonizing certain foods, or living off meal replacement shakes, he would keep eating everything. “I’m not going to ask myself to give up ice cream for 10 years, that’s dumb,” Terrell told Insider.
Instead of setting complicated diet rules, he decided to eat only when hungry. Instead of weighing himself regularly and obsessing over the number, he stepped on the scale once a month.
He started swimming for short periods and felt like he was “dying” at the start, but gradually built up his fitness and began lifting weights, doing calisthenics, and running.
Two and a half years later, Terrell had lost 125 pounds, and he’s kept the weight off for a year and a half so far.
Research suggests that slow weight loss is more sustainable than fast, and nutrition experts generally don’t recommend overly restrictive diets because they are hard to stick to, which can lead to a “binge-restrict” cycle.
The death of his father changed Terrell’s outlook
Terrell’s father’s death in the spring of 2019 changed his outlook in many ways, but one of the big ones was how he viewed time.
He realized that he was always waiting for motivation to strike, and that wasn’t working. So when Terrell’s brother-in-law set him a challenge to move for 20 minutes three times a week, he agreed. He swam three times a week and took a long hard look at his diet and eating habits.
Terrell didn’t want to fail again so decided to start small — he didn’t count calories, but tried to only eat when hungry.
“I thought, if I had just started 10 years ago, I’d be done by now, even if I only lost a pound a month.” he said. “The last thing I want to do is sit there on my death bed thinking, oh, if only I had just started,” he said.
Terrell didn’t think about losing 100 pounds. He thought about losing just one pound, and doing that again and again. He ended up losing 30 pounds in the first six months.
Terrell approached his health like business
In his professional life, working for the COO of a commercial cleaning company, Terrell had always enjoyed problem-solving, working on multi-year projects, and making organizational change happen, he said.
“I thought, why am I not approaching my life the same way?” Terrell said.
He decided to turn his focus inwards and approach his weight loss like a business challenge.
Terrell conducted root cause analysis, finding out the underlying cause of why his previous weight loss attempts had failed.
“Every single time I lost weight I would always gain it back plus more because I never addressed the real problem. I always put the weight back on because I was the same person as when I started,” Terrell said.
He compared it to shoveling water out of a boat that is filling up instead of plugging the leak.
This time, Terrell thought about weight loss maintenance before he even started losing, making sure he was starting lifestyle changes that he was willing to continue for at least 10 years.
He addressed his thoughts as much as his actions, working on his “terrible” relationship with food.
Terrell was used to either gaining weight or crash dieting, so decided to aim simply not to gain more weight, or to lose it slowly (less than 2 lbs a week on average).
“As long as the scale wasn’t going up I was moving in the right direction,” Terrell said.
Terrell reduced the stressors in his life
Terrell realized his lifestyle made it extremely easy to gain weight. He moved as little as possible, stayed up till 2 or 3 a.m. every night playing video games or watching TV, and ate lots of junk food out of habit. As a self-proclaimed “workaholic,” his meetings revolved around food, too.
Terrell realized this was his “obesity model”— in other words, the very effective recipe for his weight gain — which then helped him work out what was holding him back. He identified the stressors in his life, including an unhappy relationship and a job at a company that didn’t value him, and removed them.
Taking action to make himself happy and reduce negative stressors helped Terrell develop a healthier lifestyle.
He began video journaling to document his journey and put note cards around his house to help him stay on track.
Read the original article on Insider