Losing weight isn’t easy. In fact, it can seem like an overwhelming battle of “dos” and “don’ts,” leaving a person feeling confused, stressed, or even stuck. Deciding to live healthier doesn’t have to be a burden. In an interview with Steven DeMars, he revealed secrets to his successful journey towards a healthier lifestyle.
Steve is 37 years old and works as an environmental engineer. He has lived in Pennsylvania for 15 years and enjoys filling his free time with exciting activities such as dancing and improv. Though Steve enjoyed his hobbies, he began to notice discomforts imposed by his physical condition. It was in the middle of last Summer, 2017, that he realized, “I’m really out of shape.”
Steve went on to explain: “I wasn’t really getting out much.” He also noticed becoming easily winded while dancing and going up stairs. “Most of all,” he continued. “I realized my pants weren’t fitting.”
In August of 2017, Steve decided it was time for a change. “My first step was going for walks at lunch,” Steve explained. He set out to make small lifestyle changes, one step at a time. He had no self-imposed deadlines, didn’t stress over whether or not he was losing the right amount of weight. He focused on what he could do right now and slowly built on that foundation.
“I was doing nothing,” Steve said, “So I told myself that something was better than nothing.” After he started taking walks a lunch, Steve added to that by doing a 30-minute workout when he got home from work. That was it. “I’d come home and have free time,” he explained. “So I started really light with pushups, prisoner squats, and crunches.” Eventually, Steve noticed that his pants were fitting looser, and through a benefit program at his work, he discovered he had lost 15 pounds! This was approximately one-and-a-half months after he started.
I asked Steve how this journey has been difficult. In one word, he answered: food. Because he made gradual changes, he didn’t notice many struggles, but it was a challenge deciding one day to eat salads whenever he went to lunch. “After three days,” Steve said, “I was okay with it.” He also found his sweet tooth acting up at night. He loves sweets, so instead of cutting them out completely, he made thoughtful substitutions: he swapped his night-time snack with a vanilla protein shake. This way, his sweet tooth was still satisfied.
Steve made other thoughtful food decisions along the way. “I substituted Cliff Bars with Quest Bars and cut back on the amount I ate,” he explained. “For lunch, I’d make my salad however I wanted. I grabbed a little salad container and told myself I could put whatever I want in there.”
To date, Steve has lost just over 30 pounds. When asked what makes him most happy about his progress, Steve laughed, “Smaller pants!” He also mentioned that he didn’t tell people he was starting this journey, and one of his biggest rewards was others noticing the change. It showed him that the small steps he was taking were becoming visible. He went on to explain that through this experience, he proved to himself he could stick with it. Not only that, but he developed the discipline to maintain this new lifestyle. “I have my whole life to take care of myself,” he said. Steve told himself to “start slow; start small” and continues to recognize that doing something is better than doing nothing at all.
I asked Steve if living a healthy lifestyle ever feels like a chore. “Sometimes,” he began. “Only when I have a busy schedule. When I have a really busy schedule, I want to squeeze in my workout and try to figure out how to do it. Instead of making it to the fitness center, I’ll do as many pushups and crunches as I can. Anything is better than nothing, just to keep the routine. I may not have time to go to the gym, but I can pop out 30 pushups, 30 prisoner squats, and 30 crunches just to say I did something.”
Steve started his journey going for walks at lunch. Now, he lifts three days a week in a fitness center, with cardio on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Weekends he leaves free for hiking, dancing, or other fun activities. When asked how he feels during his hobbies now, Steve said, “I feel great!” He feels more loose and doesn’t get as tired. “I feel very comfortable,” he stated.
At the conclusion of our interview, I asked Steve the big question: what advice would you give those looking to start being healthier and lose weight?
“Start small,” he began. “Make small changes. Start slow; start small. When you’re exercising, challenge yourself…you’re going to feel yourself chomping at the bit. When you feel yourself chomping at the bit, you’re ready to move up. I started off saying I will do 3 sets of 10 pushups. One time, on my third set, I decided to see how many I could do and I did 30, so I decided to start doing 3 sets of 20. I did that for a while before moving to 3 sets of 30.”
A healthy lifestyle can appear intimidating, but it is not out of reach. You can start your journey with one positive choice at a time. A small step is better than no step. Start by deciding to do something. In Steve’s case, he decided to take walks. As you integrate that first step into your life, consider adding a second step. It’s never too late to make a change. Start where you can, and remember a castle is build one brick at a time.
Lift Smart. Love Hard. Stay Positive.
***Please keep in mind that I am not a licensed nutritionist, and anything I post about food, diet, or nutrition is not to be taken as professional council. Consider it a conversation among friends.***