Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Milad Safi is 24, 6-foot tall, and currently weighs 169 pounds. In 2016, after struggling with weight issues for most of his life and suffering an embarrassing incident at an amusement park, he decided to conquer his emotional eating once and for all. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.
The turning point
I was overweight since I was a kid because I was an emotional eater. When things in life were going wrong, I ate my way to comfort. I was 11 years old when I started to balloon up. My mom tried to help me, but I always ate in secrecy at school or outside. I didn’t care about my health or body back then. I tried losing weight a couple times before since my family was pressing me. I tried playing sports and dieting but I never stuck to them and eventually gave up. I was lazy and my weight was socially isolating. I hated my body when I turned 16. I got bullied in school and it made my eating worse. And in summer of 2016 I got to 269 pounds, the heaviest I ever was.
A few incidents helped me turn my life around. First, in the summer of 2016, my family and I went to an amusement park, and when I sat down and tried to fasten the seat belt in the roller coaster, it did not fit. The operator of the roller coaster came and tried to help me but at that moment everyone waiting in line noticed my situation. Some of them started laughing and making jokes. I was so embarrassed that I wanted to die at that very moment. I got up and walked away. My whole day was ruined. I realized I couldn’t go on living as I was and needed to do something about my body, but I wasn’t able to change right away.
It clicked for me when I was watching a YouTube video about how the male body at age 24 is in its prime. I thought to myself that I was turning 24 and I should be in the prime moment of life, but I did not feel that way. I never had a girlfriend, never kissed or held hands with a girl — I didn’t want to be alone and I couldn’t live like that anymore. All these thoughts went through my head, and it’s at that moment that I wanted to change.
Milad Safi struggled with his weight since childhood.
On my birthday in September 2016, I decided to lose weight and become a better person. I wanted to love myself when I looked in the mirror.
I started by getting a membership at my local gym. I didn’t change anything in my diet right away. I went to the gym two times a week and only did cardio, as I was not familiar with lifting weights. After the first week I started to change things in my diet and cut out soda. This helped me lose a bunch of weight in the first couple of weeks.
When I plateaued, I started looking on the internet for advice on weight loss. That’s where I learned about CICO (calories in, calories out). I thought to myself that I could eat anything that I wanted but just needed not to go over the calorie limit. I fell in love with flexible dieting and knew I wanted this to be my lifestyle.
As time went by, I restricted my calories more and more and at one point I was eating only 1,200 calories a day because I got addicted to losing weight. After a while I noticed I was not feeling really well. I almost fainted couple times at the gym and knew something was wrong. That’s when I found out that I was eating too little for my size. I also noticed my loose skin and got really afraid that it might get worse if I did nothing about it.
I looked everywhere for information about the right way to lose weight and have a minimum amount of loose skin. I decided that I wanted to focus on losing fat instead of the number on the scale. I started resistance training to preserve and build muscle while losing fat. I wish I had started training smarter sooner, as it was the best thing for my journey. I watched hours of videos on how to lift with proper form, how many sets, how many reps, and which exercises I needed to do for which body parts. The more I trained, the more I loved it. Cardio was never fun, but lifting is something I enjoyed.
It was hard. But what kept me motivated was the reason I started. I always had flashbacks to my roller coaster incident. Every time I felt like giving up, I thought of that day and it kept me going. The changes in my body also kept me motivated. I saw muscles forming and cool clothes fitting me, and that kept me wanting more.
Physically I am in my best ever shape, and I am way stronger than I was before. Sleeping is also much better than it used to be.
Emotionally I am more confident in myself. I can talk to strangers without feeling awkward. I can take off my shirt at the beach. Talking to girls is also much better. Strangers smile at me when I walk past them, something I did not notice previously.
I knew it would change my life, but I never realized how big of an impact fitness would have. I made more friends in the last year than in the previous 24 years of my life. I love being around people now, and most importantly, I love myself.
Now I train five times a week: three days of lifting and two days of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). I get 40 percent of my calories from carbs, 35 percent from protein, and 25 percent from fat. I try to hit 200 grams of protein every day without any protein supplements. I also use fish oil and a multivitamin to keep my omega levels in balance and make sure I get enough vitamins each day.
For food I eat everything that is high in protein. I eat a lot of yogurt, quark, fish, and lean meat. All my meals also include some kind of fruit, beans, veggies, or whole grains (like brown rice, buckwheat, oats, or quinoa). Every Sunday I make a meal plan for the coming week and distribute my calorie allowance to each day.
I am still on my journey to reach 10 percent body fat. At the moment I am 15 percent body fat, and I hope to reach my goal by the end of this year. After I reach 10 percent body fat I want to start bulking up toward 15 percent again. I hope to eventually have a lean body mass of 155 pounds. Then I will try to maintain that physique for as long as I can.
I still keep my old photos in my bedroom to remind me each day that I never want to be that guy again.
Sometimes when something really bad happens to me, I feel like giving up on everything. I have to keep reminding myself of why I can’t give up. One thing that helps me to clear my mind is exercise. After a session, I feel back in control and can think clearly about my decisions.
Losing weight is personal, and it’s something you need to do for yourself and not for someone else. Don’t expect results fast, and set long-term goals. Winning a war does not happen with just one fight; there will be multiple battles, and you need to win most of them. Every day is a battle, and you might lose a couple here and there, but as long as you win most of them, you will win the war.
All photos courtesy of Milad Safi.
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