I’m seriously overweight. There, I put that shit on the internet. But I lost about 20 pounds this month. And I’m gonna lose another 20+ next month, too. Despite having never been successful at any legitimate weight loss plan, things are different this time.

You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? Statistically, you may have even said it yourself. Those handful of words strung together, have the unique ability to make anyone and everyone cringe. Things are different this time. But, what if you really need them to be true? 

Would you like to know more? TGP helps people build better cars, businesses, and lives. This article is part of an ongoing series where I’m sharing my own journey. Better doesn’t just happen. We have to work for it. I’m putting in the work. I hope this helps you.

I’ve always been overweight. As far back as 6th grade, I remember being picked on for being fat. Didn’t help that I wasn’t—and still am not at all—interested in sports (other than motorsports—and even then), either playing or watching. Didn’t help that I was a shy, quiet kid who moved every six months to a year when Dad got orders, either.

Americans are fat.

Prevalence of Self-Reported Obesity Among U.S. Adults by State and Territory, BRFSS, 2019 | img: cdc.gov

Yay! I’m not the only one! This “silent majority” is silent because we’re stuffing our faces. According to the CDC, 42.4% of Americans are obese. 9.2% of us are severely obese. That’s a lot of fat people. What’s worse is, between 1999 and 2019, the number of obese Americans increased by 39% (from 30.5%). The number of severely obese people almost doubled from 4.7%. 

Is it any wonder why we see gimmicky weight-loss products and services everywhere we look? It’s because about half of us are fat, and we’re only getting fatter. I wonder if 50 years of marketing and easy credit had anything to do with it? In any case, I feel like this is relevant to gearheads like us. 

Broken dreams cars

Being overweight isn’t just bad for our health, it gets in the way of doing the things we love doing. There’s a clear connection between our physical size and the vehicles we choose.

I’ve sat in a Pontiac Solstice. I’m too big for them. Which makes me wonder if I should even bother ever looking at Miatas or Spiders. One time I got to sit behind the wheel of a Ferrari Testarossa—a dream come true! There is no way I could ever actually drive one—I’m just too big. (I was offered a seat in a Countach, too, that day, but there was no way there, either.)

And that doesn’t even begin to address the issues of actually working on your own vehicle, ya know? I drive a lifted 4WD on oversized tires. I still prefer to put it up on stands when I change the oil because it’s cramped, under there, otherwise. 

And don’t even get me started on having  the physical capacity to put in a 10-hour day in the heat of summer. Simply put, there comes a time when those of us who take care of our machines have to get serious about taking care of our bodies if we want to keep taking care of our machines. I mean, they’re kinda one and the same. 

Know-nothing know-it-alls

For years, I’ve told myself I know what I’m doing. I told myself I don’t really have to try to lose weight. I don’t need to bother with things like meal plans and lifting weights. Weight loss is simple, after all—you either eat less or do more. Likely both, at the same time. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Weight is purely a function of calories consumed versus calories burned. 

Obviously, physical fitness—or just plain old health—isn’t just about weight. If I need 2,500 calories a day to maintain my current weight, I could get 2,500 calories from seven boxes of Twinkies—but there’s no way that’s healthy. Hell, I’d even have a ridiculously hard time convincing myself of that!

A sucker since sixth grade

The worst part about all of this is I realize my brain has played me for a sucker on this front since I was in elementary school. When you eat half a pizza in a single sitting, or that entire pint of Talenti, or all the leftover tacos, you know it’s not right. And yet I’d always tell myself, “It’s okay. I’ll just be a little more active this week.”

The problem is, when you’re almost completely sedentary—which I  have been  for the last decade, a little more effort when you’re making effectively zero effort to begin with is just not a plan. It’s a cop-out by a know-nothing know-it-all brain that doesn’t want to put in any effort because it’s already got everything figured out.

Sometimes, my brain even got cocky about it. “Nothing tastes as good as ‘fit’ feels? Bro! Have you even HAD a Rice Crispies treat made out of Fruity Pebbles? It’s science!” I mean, yeah, they’re that good, but also, that ain’t right! 

I’ve had success before

When I was working two jobs to fund my escape from Kansas back in the Y2K days, I didn’t really have time for breakfast and dinner, so—believe it or not—I did the Slimfast thing for the better part of a year. A shake for breakfast in the DSM on the way to work. A shake for dinner in the DSM on the way home from work to change for the second job. And whatever the hell I wanted to eat for lunch at the day job. 

I lost 50lbs that year. 

And then I changed second jobs to delivering Papa John’s. It paid more money, much of it in cash tips, but it also meant more free pizza than I’d ever seen in my life. Cancelled orders that never left the store, people who didn’t answer the door, there was almost always free pizza available. And when all you’ve had to eat in the last six hours was a chalky Slimfast shake, free pizza is mighty hard to resist. 

I gained 50lbs back that year. 

How I’m losing 40lbs before summer

30 days ago, on March 29th, I started a new diet; technically—a medically supervised weight loss program. Diet is what we eat. 

The program I’m on is RM3 from Red Mountain Weight Loss. The simplest way I can describe this is I’m on a seriously calorically limited diet, and they provide me with medications to help change my body’s relationship with food over a few months. 

I’m still not thrilled about needles. | img: TGP

RM3 Pros: Results!

Pros! I lost 3lbs the first day. I lost an average of one pound per day for the first two weeks and ultimately lost 20 pounds in one month. My clothes fit better because I’ve also lost inches off my chest, belly, waist, and thighs (My belt is as tight as it gets and I can slide it back and forth.). I don’t snore anymore. 

I’ve been eating better; healthier foods and smaller portions. I’ve developed a much better relationship with food, overall. A couple weeks in, there was one day where I bought a big bottle of water and an apple at a gas station on the way to Tucson instead of my usual energy drink and chips. Speaking of energy drinks, I’ve gone from drinking 1-2 a day, to drinking just one a week in the entire month of April. 

I think the phentermine I take every morning has something to do with that (he says sarcastically). Which brings me to the medical pros. When you suddenly go from 2,500-3,000 calories a day to less than 1,000, your body goes into starvation mode and turns down the heat. Instead of burning calories, your body tries storing them for the hard times ahead. The Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) I take twice a day works against that response, triggering the body to burn fat—something it’s clearly reluctant to do for some of us!

RM3 Cons: Costs!

First and foremost is the cost. RM3 runs $500 per month. I am incredibly fortunate to be in a position to spend this kind of money on my health. To be perfectly transparent, we’re spending home equity on this. And while my DIY lizard brain is screaming at me that I could do it myself—Newsflash, DIY lizard brain: You’ve had 30 years to get your shit together. I’m giving myself two months. 

Phentermine is methamphetamines. Yeah. For real. That lack of caffeine and incredible daily productivity I’ve enjoyed all month is powered by meth. O—K. I know it’s not THAT meth, but on a scale of meth-to-no-meth, it feels pretty damn close. There have been days when I’ve literally forgotten to eat. I’ve been so focused on what I’ve been doing, it’s like coming up on this massive wave of mental acuity and physical productivity that goes on day after day. It’s a crutch. I need that crutch right now, but still. 

Even in its relative simplicity and flexibility, it’s still a fairly restrictive diet. Think: No Carbs & No Fats. No beers. 16 ounces of lean “protein” and 128 ounces of water per day. Fortunately, we’re creative enough with our chicken and veggies that we’re getting by, but it’s a lot of chicken and veggies. There have been times when I’ve decided to skip eating because I just don’t want another salad with vinaigrette. I am aware that skipping a meal is not the best route. Occasionally, sure. Looking back at my life, I don’t think I’m the type to make it a habit.

More like medically empowered weight loss | img: TGP

Hindsight 2020

It’s easy to look back and see how I got here; willful disdain for PE and gluttony. I like eating things that taste good. I don’t like running and shit. But it’s a lot easier to not gain 50 pounds than it is to lose 50 pounds. The longer we put stuff like this off, the more leverage we’re going to need if we want to move those rocks. 

The problem gets bigger and more pressing the older you get, too. My dad died earlier this year. He’d been in a wheelchair for 14 months, after having a mild stroke, falling, and breaking his hip. He’d been working with the VA to get surgery done for years prior, but they wouldn’t schedule it until he had his diabetes and weight under control. 

“Just eat less junk food!”

Even now, my know-it-all, DIY brain is pacing back and forth in the background, going on and on and on about how I can do all of this myself and why in the HELL am I paying $500 a month to “just eat less junk food.” But you know what? Since I’ve started taking a DIY approach to building a better life, I’m catching on to its tricks. 

A lot of the platitudes we’ve all heard around weight loss and fitness are true. It feels real good when once-tight shirts fit comfortably—and even better when previously comfortable shirts feel like trying on Dad’s shirts as a kid. It’s nice waking up rested because you weren’t snoring all night. It’s nice having more energy throughout the day. It feels really good when you recognize you’ve actually changed your life in the process.

Another serving of platitudes

If you’re one of the increasingly rare Americans without a weight problem, this has all got to sound absurd. How difficult is it to just eat less junk food and be more physically active? Believe me. We know. Those of us who are overweight know we’re overweight. We appreciate that you don’t bring it up, but get this—We’re asking ourselves the same thing!—“Why is it so difficult to eat less junk food and be more physically active?” 

If nobody knows you’re trying, nobody’s got your back when you start feeling like it’s not working and you should just give up. Thoughts, words, actions, habits, character, destiny. When your know-it-all, DIY brain has you up against a wall, telling you that you already know all the answers, it’s nice to know there’s someone else out there counting on hearing good news. It’s even better when they’re still there when you’ve fallen down, and actually lend a hand to help you back up.

A lifetime of less than stellar habits led me to weighing nearly 300 pounds, rolling into my 44th year. My dad was 300+ when he died. I don’t want to waste any more time listening to self-righteous bullshit from the side of my brain that just wants to do awful things for a Klondike Bar. 

Fast & Right isn’t Cheap

Look. We’ll have ice cream and pizza and beer and rice and all that good stuff again—(hopefully not all in the same sitting)—but first I gotta do a hard reset. RM3 might be expensive, but while it’s helping me lose mad weight mad quick, it’s also helping me course correct on the real, actual diet part of my life. You might say I’m getting the help I need to establish a healthy relationship with food that will last a lifetime. 

It’s a lot easier to not gain 50 pounds than it is to lose 50 pounds. I’m working on losing 50 pounds by summer. Fast, Right, Cheap—pick any two, right? I’m finally at a point in my life where I’ve decided—when it comes to my health—it’s time to choose Fast and Right.

30 days in, I’ve lost 20 pounds and 1-2 inches off my waist, belly, and chest. 

30 days from now, I expect to be down another 20 pounds and even thinner. 

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