Hi. My name is Justin DeMarco and I’m overweight. I’m a 28-year-old, five-foot-eleven-and-a-half-inch male, weighing in at 202 pounds (as of my physical last week). Sure, the past couple of years I’ve been noticing my stomach grow, love handles expand, and tree trunk legs, well, they’re still tree trunks, but I didn’t think it was a big problem. Compared to my friends and most people I see daily, I figured I’m an average weight. And I probably am an average weight compared to most Americans, but that’s because more than 2 in 3 adults are considered to be overweight or obese, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. (If you’re curious whether you’re underweight, normal, overweight, or obese, you can find out here.)
I had no idea I’m more than 20 pounds heavier (at the highest normal weight) than I should be for my height, age, and gender. The nurse and doctor didn’t mention anything about my weight during the physical examination and my friends and family usually say I “look great” when they see me, which must be a courtesy rather than an honest assessment of my body.
The only reason I found out I’m overweight was because of a phone conversation I had with one of my best friends in New York a couple of days after my physical. This friend has been telling me for the past few years that I was on the cusp of gaining lots of weight due to my diet, but I ignored him. For the first 25 years of my life, I basically ate anything and everything I craved and didn’t have any weight issues since I played ice hockey and worked out several times a week. I still play hockey and go to the gym, but my diet is worse now than it has ever been and it shows.
The number “202” on the scale got my attention in the doctor’s office. I tried to calm my nerves by thinking that most of my weight is muscle and not fat. I looked at myself and didn’t see The Rock in the mirror, but rather a guy who works out a few times a week, eats takeout more than five times a week, and drinks too much beer on the weekends. Logic set in.
A few months back, I asked a friend who has gotten very into health and fitness about the steps he took to develop his current physique. My buddy Adam talked about his desire and drive to get to the next level of fitness, which for him means no shortcuts, or at least as few as possible. He recommended a fitness book, Pure Physique: How to Maximize Fat-Loss and Muscular Development by Michael Lipowski, which helped him achieve his goals. I ordered the book when we originally spoke, but didn’t complete it until a couple of days ago. Not only does the book highlight workout techniques and dieting strategies, it discusses the mental strength required once you’ve already done the physical activities. “Commitment is about knowing what you want and not stopping until you get it,” Lipowski wrote.
Or to put it in layman’s terms the way model Kate Moss did, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” I always thought that quote set a horrible example for young women, but if it’s in the context of being and becoming healthy, it makes a lot of sense. As long as it’s not intended for underweight people, but rather for people who should be the normal weight and aren’t, I’m all for it, especially if it stops people from having that extra dessert or drink.
We should educate ourselves about the foods we eat, read nutrition labels, write down and track the amounts we eat, as well as monitor the exercise we do. And then we can make necessary adjustments according to our successes or failures. It’s not going to be easy, but as Lipowski wrote in his book, “There is only one person in this world who can make your dream physique a reality and that person is you. A lean, muscular body is not achieved simply because one hopes, dreams, wishes or prays for it to happen. You must make it happen. To transform your body from what it is to what it could be, you must take a specific course of action.” The challenge for me (and possibly you) starts today, continues tomorrow, and doesn’t stop until healthy habits are formed.