- By David Chatwin
- 15 February, 2014
- Comments Off on Weight Loss Challenge Winners Adam Nardini
I would be willing to bet this story sounds familiar to many of you. For what it’s worth, I am truly sorry and my heart goes out to you. In my opinion, being obese is a struggle that is looked upon with incredible disdain by the public in a way that addiction, for example, is not. Society does not rally behind a fat person as he or she works some well respected twelve-step program. Instead, we get to hear “just don’t eat so much” or “try a treadmill for once”. We, the heavy ones, then feel even worse about ourselves, tend to make jokes externally while hurting internally, then proceed to eat anything within reach, sometimes driving many miles to the grocery store or drive-thru just to get more comfort food, even if we already feel stuffed. For us, hunger is not the name of the game. When the food is gone, the guilt begins and we feel worse. Lather, rinse, repeat…the vicious cycle has its nasty grip on our lives. On top of that, millions of years of evolution have taught our bodies to hold onto fat stores at all costs. Even if we do put in our diligent hours of workouts and careful calorie counting, the process is slow and arduous. The same people make the same jokes and once again we find ourselves in a “post-feeding” funk. Ever felt guilty after a normal, nutritional meal? I certainly have. I have felt horrible just for eating in general. That, my friends, is the engrained guilt we have learned from this “thin is perfect and beautiful” culture in which we live. It is so hard to un-learn and nearly impossible to ignore. It’s a terrible burden that neither you nor I deserve.
Personal demons and my favorite soapbox topic aside, I am supposed to talk about the contest and what I did to win. I wish I could tell you I have solved my weight problems and will never “yo-yo” or battle with weight again. Realistically, however, you and I both know that we who struggle with such issues have a lifelong battle ahead of us. This is true of others and their issues too, but humans can live without substances or dangers. We must eat to live, period. I am admittedly biased, but I think ours is a harder battle than theirs by far. I found the contest last fall, thought it was a great idea, and knew I wanted to do it. As a medical student with less than a year until graduation, I felt that as a doctor I needed to be extra vigilant with my own diet and exercise since very soon I was going to be advising others to do the same. I had gotten into long distance running during medical school and at one point was thinner than I had ever been in my adult life. Then, as winter approached, I became injured and was uninspired by the weather and a busy schedule to do other exercise. I am a vegetarian (yes, we can get fat too) and was used to running long miles, so my body craved food constantly and in large amounts. By the time Christmas came, I had gained a significant amount of weight. My family medical history is terrible (diabetes, heart disease, etc.) and I quickly realized I had once again “yo-yoed” in the heavy direction. I remembered the contest and decided I would enter in January as part of my New Year’s resolution to not only lose the weight, but attempt one more time to figure out a way to live a healthy lifestyle, rather than focus on dropping numbers on a scale.
So, that is exactly what I did. I focused on living a healthy and happy life, not shaving pounds. In all honesty, after the initial weigh-in I did not touch a scale until one week before the final weigh. I counted calories for the first week, but decided it was stressing me out too much, so I stopped. To be fair, as a doctor I do think counting calories is great for beginners, but I had been doing it for years and had a pretty good idea of what I was taking in. It made sense to me to eat my biggest meal (that is, the most calorically dense) in the morning and then make each meal smaller as the day went along, with a couple of snacks (almost exclusively fresh fruit) interspersed. That way, I felt that I was properly fueled for the day ahead but was never overloaded and thus always ready to workout. Because I felt too heavy to run, I starting hiking my favorite running trails and also incorporated some weights and plyometric exercises. Despite working long hours in the hospital, I drank water constantly (quickly learning where all the restrooms were on each floor) and made it a point to take the stairs and walk “the long way” to patients’ rooms. Eventually I was able to run again, but after having walked in the woods and allowing myself to really enjoy the scenery, I never ran the same way again. I went slower and savored each quiet, perfect moment away from the hustle and bustle of life. I learned to listen to my body with regards to pace, the number of sets if I was lifting weights, and even started to trust my body when it told me to eat, although I tried my best to give it fruit instead of the junk food it craved.
What I am the most proud of, however, is not the weight I lost or the honor of winning the contest against some awesome competitors. It is the fact that life continued to happen to me during the contest and I did not give up. Without sharing too much, I had two huge personal tragedies during the time frame of the contest and one enormous blow-up at school that changed my career trajectory forever. To be absolutely honest, I did eat some “bad” food surrounding these events. I was far from perfect during the three months and did have some slips. What I am proud of is the fact that unlike in the past, I never quit. If I had a bad day and wound up eating more than I should, I tried my best to forgive myself and do better the next day. When I was on my addiction rotation in medical school, we used to tell the addicts to “treat a slip as only a slip and not a relapse”. That was my primary goal and I accomplished it. Would I have lost more weight had I not slipped? Probably. Could I have let the guilt from those slips crush my spirit? Absolutely! Even as the contest ended and I ate some favorites that I hadn’t had in awhile, I felt that I was stronger in terms of not beating myself up and getting back on track the next day. I wish I could tell you I will never be heavy again. I wish I could give you some secret so that you would never be either. Unfortunately, I can promise neither. What I can say is that, I did it and trust me, I am no better than you in any way. Also, let me plead with you to learn to forgive yourself and live the happiest life you can at this particular moment. Sure, all of these things (i.e., food, stress, work, etc.) will ebb and flow, but in the end it’s really about enjoying the time we have with those we love, right?
Good luck to you all! I know you can do it! Adam Nardini
Thank you for hearing the views and strategy of one of our weight loss challenge winners, Adam Nardini.