When Casey C., 30, a skills development specialist in Greenfield, Indiana, played high school and college football, he ate anything he wanted. Being big just meant he was harder to push around on the field. “I weighed 310 pounds and ate hamburgers, steak, potatoes, you name it,” he says. “There were a few times when I ordered an entire pizza and ate the whole thing.”
But when he stopped playing football after his freshman year of college, he never changed his habits. “I ate like I was still playing football but was doing absolutely no exercise,” he says. “It was so bad that instead of walking half a mile to classes, I would take the campus bus. I was just lazy!”
His weight crept up and up until it hit 386 pounds in September, 2014. “I started having pretty severe low back pain and if I stood for longer than an hour, my knees and ankles would hurt,” he says. “One night, I woke up and had to go to the bathroom—my back hurt so bad that I had to crawl across the floor to get there. I felt like I had no control over my life.” That was when he knew something had to change.
“I got the Fitbit Flex and the very first day I had it I went to the gym,” he says. “I got on the treadmill and walked an entire hour.” He decided to try to do that at least five days a week. “Even if I was moving two miles per hour, I was going to walk an hour,” he says. “I was so excited that first day because it felt like something actually clicked inside me.”
While there were some days when he sat in his car in the gym parking lot, dreading going inside, Casey always made himself do it. He kept going faster and faster on the treadmill until he was running, and his weight started falling off. In fact, he lost 100 pounds in the first 94 days. “I was eating a lot of chicken tenderloins, egg whites, healthy canned soup, and vegetables,” he says. “If I got hungry I’d eat an apple to fill me up and drink water—lots and lots of water.” Before long he had settled into a weight that is almost half of where he started: just over 200 pounds.
With all that running at the gym, Casey figured he should probably sign up for a race. “My first race was on Thanksgiving morning in 2015,” he says. “It was completely foreign to me to wake up early and exercise on a day that’s always been about eating.” He finished the race with just over a 10-minute mile pace and was hooked. “A friend and I ran a half-marathon together last February in two hours and 15 minutes,” he says. “Next up: a triathlon!”
Casey’s Advice for Others:
Give yourself time to splurge. “When I lost 150 pounds, I started allowing myself one cheat meal a week,” he says. “I’d have steak, but it was weird because even then, I’d still want veggies and rice as the sides instead of fries and macaroni and cheese.”
Have the right mindset. “I told myself I wasn’t going to let life kick my butt, I was going to kick its butt,” he says. “You have to remind yourself where you were and where you want to be, and find ways to just keep going.”
Change how you view food. “I used to see food as a source of comfort and eat until I was full,” he says. “Now I see it as fuel and eat until I’m satisfied. Once I started thinking of food that way, it became a lot easier to choose the healthiest things.”
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This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.