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Max’s Fitness and Weight Loss Journey | 100 Pounds Down!
Today we have a very special interview about weight loss with one of our very own customers.
He is someone who decided to get into the gym, begin weight training and eventually ended up losing over 100 pounds!
For a lot of beginners in the gym, it is hard to stay motivated and find something about exercising that interests you.
Usually, you go into it not knowing where to start.
Plus, if you are overweight, endless cardio may feel like your only option.
Making a Change
Despite not knowing where to begin, our guest today – with the help of his friends – decided to start a weightlifting routine in order to initiate his weight loss journey.
Below is the interview, wherein topics discussed include: how he gained weight, how he got into the gym, how he lost the weight and everything in between.
If you want to understand the mindset, dedication and self-control it takes to lose over 100 pounds and going from sedentary, never-been-to-the-gym to someone who cherishes fitness and all of its benefits, then read on!
Who Are You?
Name: Max Willis
Location: Seattle, WA
Starting Weight: 330 lbs.
Current Weight: 196 lbs.
What’s Your Story?
Understanding Where You Started
Dark Iron Fitness: What made weight loss important to you?
Max: I really think my friends — Alex, Kenny, and Gobe — ultimately influenced the decision.
I was always an active kid growing up; I played numerous sports during the year and ate home-cooked meals every night with my family.
But as I got older and started high school, I stopped playing sports and became a pretty overweight guy for my age.
A lot of that started with what I chose to eat.
I loved soda. I loved to drink those 40-ounce Slurpees and eat hot dogs from 7-eleven — so much so, that I used to stop by there almost every day to get them (along with a bag or two of chips)!
Slowly but surely, I gained more and more weight. In high school, I joined the swim team (which I loved when I was young) but found myself skipping most practices to go home and play video games instead.
My dad made my lunches each day for school — I would eat those, still feel hungry, and head over to Ezell’s chicken and get a second lunch.
I never felt like my weight was a huge problem, mostly because of the fact that I could still find clothes in my size!
The Struggle to Start
Max: I definitely had thoughts about wanting to lose weight and becoming more fit, but I convinced myself that I was too overwhelmed with school, Vocalpoint! (a musical ensemble), and family/work to even focus on changing my lifestyle.
In college, I didn’t make many friends and often ate in my room: Subway sandwiches, two bags of chips and two sodas was my go-to meal.
In the summer, I would stay up late and usually end up driving to Jimmy John’s to consume a huge sandwich, along with a bag of chips and a liter of soda.
About two years ago, my friends Kenny, Alex, and Gobe kept contacting me and saying, “We should hang out more! Come to the gym some time!”
After a while, it just got to the point where I was like, “Why not?”
So, I bought a two-year membership to 24 Hour Fitness and started going to the gym on the 1st of January 2016
The Aspect of Health
Dark Iron Fitness: Was your choice to get in shape based on health concerns, social pressure or simply for your own personal improvement?
Max: I think it was a combination of all three.
I’ve always been a pretty heavy guy, and I knew from research and publicly available health information that being overweight put you at risk for many more health conditions like diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure.
There was never a feeling of social pressure from friends telling me things like, “Hey you’re fat you need to go to the gym.” However, I was always conscious of my body shape and it definitely affected my confidence level.
I also think personal betterment was a natural reason to get in shape due to the fact that it ties in with the idea of improving your health.
The First Time Feeling The Burn
Dark Iron Fitness: Were you dedicated from day one, or were there obstacles you had trouble overcoming?
Max: I would say I was dedicated from day one – but there were definite setbacks.
I remember the first time I exercised with my friend, Alex, he made me match the same weight he was doing.
I didn’t think much of it at the time.
Waking up the next day, my entire body ached badly.
I had trouble moving my legs and arms since everything hurt.
This worried me because I thought this was some abnormal reaction.
In reality, it was just my body getting used to a new exercise regimen.
Before my weight loss journey, I had never attended the gym.
I also remember the first few weeks; all I could think about was breaking my diet and eating fast food.
When I wasn’t eating, I felt like I was doing something wrong.
Since I never really limited myself with portions, measuring serving sizes was a new practice that took time getting used to.
Let’s Discuss Your Workouts
With All The Fitness Options Out There, Where Do You Start?
Dark Iron Fitness: What do you like about weight training? How about cardio? Which works better for your weight loss?
Max: My favorite part about weight training is being able to see the results in the mirror.
I remember when I started, I really didn’t have much muscle mass (if any).
Weight training has helped me develop that muscle.
The ability to see the definition in the mirror is a key factor in motivating me to come back to the gym day after day.
Cardio is something I like to finish my workouts with.
I’ve never been into running, but I found that making use of the elliptical and cycling machines have been a huge help in the cardio department.
Dark Iron Fitness: What are some fitness accessories that have helped you during your weight loss journey?
Max: My friend and I use a few different Dark Iron Fitness accessories that have been a big help with my weight training.
At one point, we ran a 5×5 routine, so we did squats daily.
The squat pad was nice to have to keep my neck and upper back comfortable.
I also use the Dark Iron Fitness weightlifting belt when doing deadlifts (and occasionally squats), as it helps provide extra support overall.
I tried out chalk and the Dark Iron Fitness lifting straps a few times as well.
The straps were a nice addition to deadlifts, as they provided a noticeable grip increase, but I’m still getting used to working them into the routine.
And of course, my water bottle, which I cannot go without during a gym session!
Delegating Time and Exercise
Dark Iron Fitness: Is it still hard to stay motivated or have you made the gym an integral part of your routine?
Max: I definitely think there are still challenges to stay motivated.
My work schedule fluctuates, so I try to go to the gym when I have a free window.
Yet, I don’t usually get to work out five days a week like I used to.
Tell Us About Your Nutrition
An Everyday Struggle with Diet
Dark Iron Fitness: What were some of the hardest things, food-wise, for you to give up or cut down on?
Max: I think my two biggest things were soda and prepared/fast food.
I used to drink a liter (or more) of soda a day.
In addition to that, I would say I ate fast food at least once a day.
I used to work for the Seattle Mariners and would often grab a burger and fries after getting off work.
Luckily, I’ve been able to totally cut soda out of my diet.
I have also greatly reduced the frequency of which I eat fast food.
Dark Iron Fitness: Any foods or beverages you know you will never give up?
Max: Chips are probably my biggest crutch!
Of course, they’re not good for you, but I can’t resist the crunch!
Smart Choices to Maintain Diet
Dark Iron Fitness: Do you track any of your macros? If you do, has it helped with your weight loss and understanding of nutrition?
Max: When I first started losing weight, I really didn’t pay attention to any of that.
My friends helped me understand that there’s much more to a diet.
I learned more about the calories we put into our bodies than I would have ever known before.
I don’t track what I eat very strictly.
Usually, I try to consume foods that are high in protein, minimally processed, and low in sugar.
At this point, I have pretty basically removed candy out of my daily diet and only have sweets once every few weeks.
Dark Iron Fitness: When you go out, how do you decide what to eat and are you ever tempted to binge eat?
Max: When I go out, I try to aim for a protein dish – some sort of meat like beef, chicken, pork, etc.
When I can, I substitute the fries for a side salad.
I’m always tempted to binge and definitely do at times, but I think the degree to which I binge has exponentially decreased.
As I stated before, I used to eat fast food once or twice a day!
What Are Your Weight Loss Goals?
A Journey with No Final Destination
Dark Iron Fitness: What was your original goal when you started and have you reached it?
Max: My original goal was to just lose 100 pounds in a year.
I started out at 330 pounds and knew that 230 would still technically be overweight for my age/height.
But, if I could lose 100 pounds in a year, I knew that it would be so much easier to continue living a healthy lifestyle.
In 9 months I lost 100 pounds, and by the end of 2016, I weighed 210 pounds.
I’m currently just below 200 pounds at 196. I went from a size 3XL shirt and 46 waist to a size L and a 34 waist.
Dark Iron Fitness: At this point, where would you like to see yourself physically?
Max: I feel comfortable with my weight at the moment and have really started to shift my focus toward reducing my overall body fat percentage.
I would like to lose some of my body fat while also adding lean muscle mass.
Knocking Down Life’s Barriers
Dark Iron Fitness: Outside of fitness, has your weight loss inspired you to pursue other things in life previously unexplored?
Max: I wouldn’t say it has directly inspired me to do anything specifically, but it has definitely made my life easier.
I no longer feel self-conscious about my body or what I look like.
I can now buy clothing in the store as opposed to shopping strictly online.
Dark Iron Fitness: Is fitness just a phase for you or do you view it as part of your new lifestyle?
Max: I think it’s dangerous to view fitness as just a phase.
I think it’s a great tool to get in shape and I understand that it’s easy to slack off or forget about it once you hit a specific goal you set.
Ultimately, fitness is a lifestyle and it has to be maintained in order to live as healthy as possible.
I still find myself working out regularly and using it as a tool to better myself physically and mentally.
Where Do You Go From Here?
Dark Iron Fitness: Since your weight loss, what are your biggest fears as far as fitness is concerned?
Max: I wouldn’t say I have any! I think having a goal is to understand that you’ll have to get out of your comfort zone in order to better yourself.
Many times I felt out of place when doing an exercise.
That never stopped me from giving my full effort in order to stay committed to myself.
Dark Iron Fitness: What is the most important thing you’ve learned so far from exercising?
Max: Pay attention to your body.
Little aches or pains can turn into much bigger problems if not properly addressed.
It’s always okay to take a day off to nurse or heal an injury.
Providing a Driven Mindset for Others
Dark Iron Fitness: What advice would you give to beginners in the gym or those looking to build up the courage to lose weight?
Max: Get in there!
Most gyms are equipped with knowledgeable staff who are happy to help.
Going to the gym and slowly working yourself up to full speed is the best way to get in shape.
I looked up exercises for different sections of the body when I wasn’t sure what to do.
It’s also great if you have a friend join you!
Working out with my friends made me feel more comfortable and relaxed.
I could always ask them questions when I wasn’t sure about what I was doing.
Dark Iron Fitness: Thank you for doing this interview with Dark Iron Fitness! Where can people find you?
As you have seen and heard from someone who has done it — weight loss is possible — no matter what.
We tend to make excuses and put off exercise as if we don’t have time.
Try to find an hour out of your day; even thirty minutes. Do something physical that feels good to you.
For Max, it took the push of his friends; maybe you need that friendly nudge as well.
Whether it is weightlifting, running, swimming, sports or choosing to walk instead of drive, weight loss doesn’t have to be boring.
Look at yourself individually, examine your diet, your habits and your routine.
Make the changes around you that will jumpstart the changes within.
Fitness is free, it’s fun and it’s infinite.
Enjoy the weight loss journey and admire the results as if they were only an added bonus; they are.