Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Story

April 9, 2010 marked the 2nd year Anniversary of the day I started this journey of trying to find a healthy way of living. It has been an emotional roller-coaster of a ride that has ultimately seen great personal success. To date, I have lost almost 200 lbs and have kept it off. I have gone from living an inactive lifestyle full of unhealthy eating; to living an extremely active lifestyle (next month I will run my first marathon!), full of nothing but healthy eating (with a few exceptions).

Looking back now, it seems to me that I was always meant to be this way. I feel better than I ever have; I have a new lease on life. For a while, I never really believed I would get to where I am today. In the past, I have lost weight and always gained it back, shattering my self esteem with every trip around the horrid cycle: Lose weight - feel great -feel like you've arrived - start slipping back into old eating habits - gain weight - get depressed - gain back all the weight lost - get depressed - gain more weight. So what made this time so different? Did I finally grow some self control? Or did I discover "the secret" to losing weight and keeping it off?

To know why and what worked for me I think a little background information is needed.

My whole life I have struggled with my weight, and for years I believed that I was just "made that way", that I would always be the "Big Guy" and aspiring to be anything but would be somehow going against nature. I grew up in a very standard North American home. Neither of my parents where morbidly obese like I would become. My older brother was fit and was a natural at gymnastics, and later football and rugby. My sister, too, was always thin. We were encourage and sometimes forced to "go outside" to get "fresh air" when they thought we spending too much time being sedentary.

We ate a standard North American diet, where the “4 food groups” where the pillar of conventional wisdom. We ate a lot of processed food; hamburger helper, canned food, frozen dinners. Very few of our meals were solely made from fresh ingredients. Fruit was a rarity which we were chided when we ate to much of; vegetables often went bad in the fridge. This was not for lack of trying on the part of my parents. We were a one income household with my mother staying at home to watch us kids. Money was, at times, scarce, just like food in the pantry. It is no wonder that my parents went for the inexpensive processed food over the more expensive whole, fresh food.

Millions of North Americans are forced to make the same choices everyday. The health of our families becomes a choice between a lesser of evils. When I was a manager of a fast food restaurant, I saw first hand the effect of this choice. The restaurant was in a perfect location to maximize profits. It was right between a local community college and a low income group of high-rises and row houses. Every day and night I would see single mothers of four, blue collar workers, “starving” students, all coming to my restaurant for a cheap meal that they didn’t have to cook themselves. Across the street, there was a grocery store, full of fresh produce and whole foods one could use to make healthy meals.

After almost 6 months of 12 hour days, often 7 days a week, I decided to quit my job as a manager of a fast food restaurant, with the knowledge that doing so would include a significant pay-cut and would set back the advancement I had already achieved. I had gone from an already obese 330 lbs to almost 400 lbs. I was unhappy and overworked. My health had been deteriorating rapidly. I no longer had the stamina to put up with my life. What was worse is that I had started smoking cigarettes and cigars, often up to a pack a day, stupidly thinking it would help with the overall stress of my job, while in reality it was adding to the overall problem. My mood was always sour, I barely laughed, I often cried, and I dreaded waking up each morning. I was tired and no amount of sleep or rest would help. My body was trying to cope with my busy life and just couldn’t keep up. I was frequently out of breath, often to the point of dizziness and coughed violently all of the time.

April 9, 2008 was, what I call, my Day One. The day that I woke up and decided that somehow this day was going to be different. I had to make a change. I finally saw myself for what I was: morbidly obese. The stressful job and long hours were behind me, all I had was, as Michael Jackson would have put it, “The Man In the Mirror”. I woke up that day. For the first time, I actually took the time to stop and see me: The Good, Bad and the Ugly. I was overwhelmed by what I saw but knew what I had to do and had determined to do it right. So, first thing that morning I got on my scale expecting to see an abysmal number. For all I knew I could have weighed 500 lbs. I stood there with my eyes closed for a moment, too scared to look down. When I finally did, I was shocked to see “ERROR”. Apparently I weighed too heavy for my household scale. This was a real wake up call for me, and later became a great punch line while telling my story to people. I have to admit, even at the time it did seem a little bit funny to me. But even still, it wasn’t for another two weeks before I would see a number on my scale.

My not-so-revolutionary idea was to detox my system for one month then simply figure out a healthy eating plan after. It wasn’t much of a plan, but it was at least a start. I had just gone through almost 6 months of eating mostly fried foods and drinking almost exclusively cola. An average day for me would include multiple helping of fries and gravy among plenty of other fried foods (fried chicken sandwiches were my favourite) washed down by 7 or 8 large cups of cola (36 oz). So I decided that to even out whatever damage I may have done, I’d go to the complete opposite end of the spectrum and eat just raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. This just came naturally to me, I mean, everyone knows that fruits and veggies are REALLY good for you and that most of us need to eat more of them. So I figured they would be a good start. Plus, it was only a month, I felt that it would fly by and I’d be back to eating “normal” food in no time.

So why raw? I get asked this question a lot. To tell the truth, I had no idea that people actually lived this way. I knew nothing of the raw/living food movement, I didn’t even think that it was possible to sustain as a lifestyle. I just knew what I wanted to eat (fruits & veggies, nuts & seeds) and I knew I didn’t want to eat anything fried - ever again! So that left me with boiled or steamed vegetables, which seemed to me like a month of eating mush; and a choice between dried (and often sweetened) fruit or fresh fruit, which I already enjoyed. So my mind was made up: raw would be the way that I would go, not knowing that my one month experiment was about to take me down a journey that is two years past already, and only just beginning.


  1. Do tell more!!!! This is great! mind if I post your blog (:

  2. .....and don't forget the pics :) I have so many friends that would benefit from your inspiring story and blog!

  3. Great post! I'd love to hear more about what happened after, how you made it through that month and how you decided to keep going.

    Love ya!


  4. This is awesome Eric... I've been changing my eating too (although not quite to a raw status) and it's making a huge difference. Can I add you to my blog roll?

  5. Love reading your story my friend. Very inspiring.

  6. I'm SO proud of you!
    However, I'd like to take you on a trip down memory lane, and remind you how you spent 10 years making fun of me for being a vegetarian. Now you're a raw your FACE Richard! lol