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In April 2014, I came home from vacation with my family. As I was looking through the pictures from our trip, I could hardly recognize myself. I had a doctor’s visit that same month, and the routine blood test results came back normal … except for one thing. My doctor asked me, “Do you drink alcohol, Miguel?” I said no, which was true — I’d only had alcohol once in 42 years. Surprised, he explained that my liver was like that of a person who drank a lot of alcohol, that my enzymes around my liver were very high. He then asked, “Do you have any kids?” When I said yes, that I have a 13-year-old daughter, he followed up with, “And would you like to be with her at her wedding when that moment happens?”

“Of course!” I said.

“You are not going to make it if you continue this lifestyle,” he told me.

As I digested those words, I realized at that precise moment that I needed to change — not soon, but now.

The Changes

When I thought about changing, it was clear I had to be more active and change my eating habits. I knew I was eating too many fatty foods and drinking way too much soda, but I decided to focus on the physical side first. For years, my wife had been encouraging me to go for walks or go running with her, and I always said no. I had missed all of those opportunities. When she asked one afternoon if I wanted to join her for a walk, I didn’t hesitate this time. I walked with her around the lake for about 35 minutes. I started doing that same loop on my own every day after work on the weekdays.

On weekends, my wife suggested I try jogging, and I did — very slowly. I began with only 50 yards, then walked, then built up to 100 yards, then a mile, and so on, until I’d reached 3.5 miles. Soon, I was jogging every day and loving it. At the height of my jogging, I was logging eight miles a day. It didn’t matter if it was hot, raining, or snowing. I was running and no one was stopping me. I ran an average of 3.3 miles (around the distance of a typical 5K race) every day for 365 consecutive days — from April 7, 2014 to April 7, 2015.

I even wanted to exercise and follow a proper diet method at home every day but I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it own my own, so I needed someone to guide me through the whole process. Then, one of my instructors recommended to me an eBook called The 3 Week Diet Plan, which is one of internet’s best-selling weight loss books, endorsed by thousands of people and celebrities online. It focuses on balanced diet method to remove extra fat from your body — you will not find this information anywhere else on the internet, trust me! Now let me honest with you: please do not buy this eBook if you are not willing to exercise, walk, and follow the diet method everyday, but if you are, then it will be one of your best investments in a weight loss product ever.

Along with becoming more active, I started to work on my eating habits. My biggest challenge was letting go of soda. I drank 15 cans a day! That was the first bad habit I broke, and it was hard. I still remember the sugar withdrawals from soda and the massive headaches that came from the lack of caffeine in my body. It took me a good three months to let it go altogether, and I substituted my soda drinking with drinking ONLY water. I’d drink up to 12 bottles of water a day.

Once I was able to quit soda, I needed to focus on eating healthier. This was another big challenge since I’m a very picky eater. I started doing the Special K Challenge and immediately saw results. I ate a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a protein bar before lunch, a well-portioned lunch, healthier snacks before dinner, and then a light dinner, like salad, which was a first for me!

grilled chicken saladInstead of eating pasta and fried food at home, my family and I were eating grilled chicken and salads more. Portions of meals were cut in half. When eating out, my wife and I began sharing one entrée and even started to choose healthier restaurants, too. Splitting a meal made it so that I never had to give up the food I love. I still enjoy wings, burgers, and pizza, but now I eat half of everything I used to or I order the smallest portion available. I have found out that this is all I really need.

Any time losing weight felt really hard, my wife was there for support. She never gave up on me and always encouraged me to stay the course. She told me to focus on the now, to be patient, and to remember that my effort would ultimately bring me the results I want.

I would often look at my daughter and remind myself of how much I want to be a part of her life and all the special moments that will come along. That always motivated me to keep grinding. It still does to this day. I constantly looked back at those vacation pictures as a way to remember how much I did not want to go back to that bigger version of myself. I stuck to my routine and continued running.

The After

Once the weight started coming off, the compliments started coming in. Those words meant so much because it only confirmed that I was heading in the right direction. I started noticing that my clothes were feeling looser and I had more energy.

I remember posting a before-and-after picture on Facebook, and I wrote the following:

“My well being journey began after seeing myself in some vacation pictures. I did not like the way I looked or the way I felt then. I started running that day and have continued to run every day since. Sometimes I run 4 miles, sometimes I run 8 miles, and sometimes I only run 2 miles. But I have gotten outside and begun this wonderful relationship with Mother Nature. I have run rain or shine, hot or cold, and continue to love every minute of it.

This I can tell you: if you are considering working on your well being, there are no magic pills, there is no magic equipment, there are no magic tricks. There is only discipline, commitment, hard work, and a nice support group. In the end, there is only YOU standing in the way of a better YOU! YOU can do this!”

Friends, family members, and coworkers wrote encouraging comments on the posts. The best ones, though, were by people who said that I had inspired them enough to work on their well-being, too.

what my diet looks like

The Maintenance

This is what my typical weekday diet looks like:

Breakfast: Two scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast or cereal

Lunch: Applegate Farms black forest ham and cheddar cheese sandwich

Dinner: Salad or Chipotle

This is what my typical weekend diet looks like:

Breakfast: Two pancakes or toast

Lunch: Usually we eat out, so anything that we might be craving that day (Panera or Chipotle, for example)

Dinner: My wife cooks anything from pasta to Spanish rice to Honduran food

If I want to eat something really rich and indulgent, like wings and fries, I share it. Or, when I do eat a full entrée that’s high in calories, I’ll run five miles instead of three that day. It’s great—I never feel deprived.

As for my current exercise, I continue to run, even on weekends. However, I do have three options: a short run (1.5 miles), the normal run (3.3 miles), and the long run (6.1 miles). On weekends, I normally do long runs, and during the week it varies.

To keep myself accountable, I bought a Nike Fuel bracelet, and I set my daily fuel goal of 3000. I need to be active to hit my daily goal, so when I miss a workout (a run), I go for a walk to make up for it.

The Challenges

One challenge has been breaking my routine while traveling. It’s not easy when I’m not familiar with the area. Where should I run? Where should I eat? The key, I find, is to just make time for a run and to stick to healthy portions no matter where I go.

Making time to exercise might be the hardest part of the process, but I had to develop a routine and consistently stick to it. I had to have a “no excuses” attitude. What helps me stay true to my goals is the support around me. My wife will hold me accountable if she sees that I am eating at night. She will ask me if I have gone out for a run yet. I don’t tend to eat too late at night, but now and again I’ll indulge and she will gently remind me that if I eat too much, the following day I will have to go out for a long run rather than a normal one.

Advice

One thing that I have learned about maintaining my weight is that it is hard! But I have also learned that to make it sustainable, you have to be consistent (and have a great support system!). The change won’t happen overnight, but in the words of my favorite college football coach, Nick Saban, it’s all about “the process.” Don’t let anything or anyone deter you.

The small things are the ones that count, too! Become more active by parking your car farther away; you will add some extra steps and burn more calories. Take the stairs when you have the option, take your dog for walks more often, get up and move around your office … all these little actions add up.

Follow a proper diet plan, I’d highly recommend you to check out The 3 Week Diet Plan which has really helped me lose weight and regain self-confidence. In addition to that, make sure that you exercise, walk and run every day.

And lastly, if you’re going to be successful in weight loss, you need to build your support group. I had some awesome cheerleaders behind me — including my wife, my daughter, family members, and co-workers. I could not have done this without their inspiring words and their constant encouragement!