Jesse Kay, 28, shares with Men’s Health the wakeup call that caused him to start his weight loss journey—and the one form of exercise that’s helped him lose 80 pounds in under a year.
Ironically, I weighed my least (165 pounds) back when I worked at McDonalds, as the high level of activity allowed me to eat anything I wanted and still lose weight. However, once I got my full-time job out of college, my lifestyle quickly became much more sedentary, and I ordered takeout almost every day.
I hit rock bottom at my heaviest. I would avoid the scale because it was a constant reminder of the long, painful process of getting to where I was. The highest number I weighed in at was 280 pounds. I continued with my disordered eating habits even after that realization, and easily hit close to 300 pounds. My highest recorded BMI was 40 which is considered morbidly obese.
Christmas of 2019 was a huge turning point for me. After multiple work events in November and December, with many pictures taken which were posted online, I ended up disgusted with myself. I started to question how I ended up where I am and why I didn’t stop myself at each of the million chances I had. I knew that I needed to change so I could regain my self-confidence and be happy again.
I had no desire to go to a gym and work out, which meant I ended up scouring the internet for endless pyramid schemes, false information, and influencers trying to sell weight loss products. That is when I discovered that weight is simply regulated by calories in vs calories out. I bought a food scale, and started weighing out all my food and tracking my calories. I didn’t cut out any of the foods I loved, I simply started accounting for them with my daily limits. Before I knew it, the weight started melting off and I was feeling more energized and motivated than ever!
This led to me getting a gym membership and starting to go a few days a week for about two months, until ultimately the pandemic hit and gyms were forced to close. At this time I began using walking as my primary exercise. I started aiming for 5,000 steps per day, then 10,000 and eventually settled at about 20,000 steps per day to speed up the progress. At about 240 pounds, I managed to hit a tremendous 40,000 steps in one day! I ended up getting an iFit treadmill from Walmart for about $200 so that I could hit my steps indoors on cold and rainy days. I’m a huge data nerd, so the app helped tremendously with being able to see the stats for my runs and doing classes on my phone or tablet. I learned that with 20,000 steps a day I was burning over 1,000 calories per day which really helped kickstart my entire fitness journey!
In my opinion, walking really ends up being the absolute best workout for beginners and intermediates. There’s nearly no recovery time and can be done in any conditions. Even with the gyms open now, my exercise of choice will always be walking. Now that gyms and fitness centers near me are shutting down again because of COVID, I’m back on the treadmill multiple times per week, sometimes even multiple times per day to burn off those calories so I can squeeze in some food I love.
I am officially down 81 pounds, and now weigh 199 pounds. I lost the majority of that—around 60 pounds—by August this year, and then slowed down from there. I am now eating more as I’m shifting into building muscle.
My friends and family were completely blown away by my transformation. The first month or two, I had people telling me it wouldn’t last and that I would probably give up within a week or two. By the third month, the same people were letting me know how much better I’m starting to look and that even my posture was improving when I sit or walk. Now, nearly 12 months after starting the journey, everyone is just in absolute shock at what is possible when you put your mind to something and stick to it. The most common thing I hear is “you’re half the size you used to be!”
The biggest positive side effect from my weight loss is the confidence. I was never the most confident type of person, and the more I start loving the person I’m becoming, the more confidence I gain. Things people say about me no longer matter and the only opinion that I let affect me now is my own. Another side effect has been inspiring others to start a journey of their own and find success. I was the absolute laziest that a human being could possibly be, and my closer friends realize that if I can make a change, anyone can do anything.
After the struggle I went through in order to find the most basic information on how to lose weight, my biggest goal is to make it as easy as possible for others. I started a Facebook group, ‘Lose Weight, Eat Pizza’, which is all about learning how to develop a better relationship with food, providing free information about calories and the basics of weight loss without trying to sell anyone anything.
The best advice I can give anyone is to keep it simple. Stick to the basics if you would like to lose some weight. Don’t go seeking any magic teas or pills or body wraps, just eat less calories than you burn and you’ll lose weight. It’s that simple.
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