Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds in a healthy way.
Scott Rees is 38, 6 feet 2 inches tall, and weighs 210 pounds. In 2014, after he was diagnosed with diabetes, he used a ketogenic diet to get his health under control. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.
The Turning Point
Kids picked on me about my weight since the third grade. At the time, I couldn’t have been more than a couple of pounds overweight. Once the bullying began though, food became a comfort, and I became more and more overweight. When I graduated high school, I was about 250 pounds. After completing my first degree and taking a desk job, I began putting on even more weight, getting up to over 300 pounds. In 2012, I took a job that required me to stay out of town for weeks at a time during the first year. As there was no real way to do my own cooking, I ate out constantly and ballooned up to over 400 pounds.
June 13, 2014, was my turning point. I had a doctor’s appointment for an unrelated health issue. The doctor drew my blood and informed me that I was diabetic, had high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. I already knew I was unhealthy, and this wouldn’t have been a turning point for me, except that I was put on medication to control my glucose levels and had some adverse reactions to the medication.
I knew that I had to make some sort of change after experiencing side effects on the medication. I began researching natural ways to control glucose levels and came across the Atkins Diet (low carb, moderate protein, high fat) and nutritional ketosis. The first step I took was changing the way I was eating to control my glucose levels. After a couple of weeks, my levels had dropped significantly. After another couple of weeks, I noticed that my clothes were getting a bit loose. I stepped on the scale and realized I had lost over 20 pounds. I was ecstatic!
I felt that I had found a lifestyle that allowed me to reduce my glucose levels, and weight loss was an added bonus. The combination of those two things encouraged me to start exercising, little by little. First, just by walking around the neighborhood, then slowly adding body weight exercises, and advancing more and more as I continued to lose weight. The Atkins low-carb lifestyle gave me the energy I needed to start exercising, along with sufficient protein and healthy fats to keep me full.
Weight loss was easy at first. I had a lot of weight to lose, so it came off quickly in the beginning. That was enough to keep me motivated for a while. As the weight loss slowed down and even completely stalled at times, it became difficult not to quit. I think the biggest factor for me in not giving up was reminding myself that I chose this lifestyle for other health reasons, not just for weight loss. I wasn’t about to start taking medication and having to deal with the side effects again. I also didn’t want to let my family down. They seemed very proud of me, so the last thing I wanted was to give them a reason not to be.
It feels like life has changed so much, then sometimes not at all. Physically, it’s much easier to get around when you take away the weight of a whole person. I can now enjoy playing sports with my kids. I used to just sit in a chair and watch them play, and now they can’t keep up with me. I’ve also wasted no time doing things that I couldn’t do because of the limitations of my weight in the past. I go to the waterpark with the kids, and can actually ride the slides without worrying about being over the weight limit. I can even fit in a roller coaster seat and have it buckle.
I spent most of my life trying not to attract any attention to myself for fear of being made fun of, so I have really worked on becoming more social since losing weight. I’m not embarrassed to be me anymore, and that has been a great feeling. It has given me the confidence to open a gym and become a fitness coach. I really like inspiring people that are in similar situations to me. I know how hopeless and helpless it can feel, and how hard it can be trying to figure out where to start.
There are a couple of things that I have had a particularly difficult time figuring out. I was so big for so long that my mind still calculates the space I need as a 400-pound person. When I try on clothing, I usually have to go back and get a size or two smaller than I originally picked out, as when I hold it up it just looks too small. I don’t like to sit in booths at restaurants, as I’m scared I won’t fit and [will] be embarrassed, only to find there is now a huge gap between my stomach and the edge of the table. The other issue I was always worried about was extra skin. I do have plenty, but it’s not near as problematic as I was worried it would be. I find that if I use compression under shirts and shorts, it doesn’t slow me down much. I’d like to look into getting it removed at some point, but it hasn’t been the burden I thought it would be.
I still eat the same now as I did the day I started this journey by following an Atkins low-carb approach. I have found that the only way to make any positive change last is to make a sustainable lifestyle change. I plan on eating and living this way for the rest of my life.
I also exercise a lot. I’m sure that will change as I get older, but I am enjoying meeting new challenges while I can. I now compete in triathlons, adventure races, jiujitsu competitions, and just about anything I can find to challenge myself in new ways. I feel that I missed out on a lot of fun things earlier in life because of my weight, and I’m making up for it now.
I meal prep for the entire week every Sunday. I find it is one of the best ways to make sure that I stay on track. If I don’t have to think about what I’m going to eat all week, I’m much better off. I also have a list of meals that I can eat at every restaurant in town. That way I don’t even have to look at the menu and be tempted by something I know I shouldn’t have. For snacks on Atkins, I try to make sure they are made up of a nice balance of healthy fats, moderate protein and fiber for best appetite control. I love the Atkins Harvest Trail Bars and shakes.
We have gotten rid of cable television at the house. We try not to just sit around like couch potatoes anymore. If I’m awake, I like to be moving. In addition to fitness coaching, I have an office job that requires me to sit for 8 hours a day. I make sure I get up every hour or two and take a 5-10 minute walk around the building.
Motivation can be difficult at times. I find that being competitive really helps. I try to always have some sort of event to train for. I compete in an athletic event at least once a month, and one really tough event at least twice a year. That way I don’t lose focus and always have something to work toward. The first year, I tried the sprint version of a triathlon and the Spartan Race. This year, I’m working toward the Olympic version of the triathlon and the Super Spartan.
I am a sugar addict! Always have been. That will probably always be my toughest challenge. I find I can’t use many sugar substitutes, as they just make me crave sugar even more. I have to try to completely stay away from anything sweet. I often refer to Atkins’ website HiddenSugar.com, which provides healthy food swaps so that I choose foods with a low glycemic load. It’s a part of their Hidden Sugar Campaign, which teaches people about nutrition and the “hidden sugar effect,” where certain foods turn into sugar during the digestive process. I don’t always succeed, but I don’t let a failure here or there derail me from what I am trying to achieve.
With so many different diets, weight loss supplements, and exercise programs out there, it’s really difficult to figure out where to begin. I think that the most important thing to remember is that you don’t want to go on a diet; you want to make a lifestyle change. You want to be healthy from now on, not just until you hit your goal weight. You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars a month on pills just to help you lose a couple of extra pounds a month. You just need hard work, dedication, and patience!
Changing your habits isn’t something that has to be done all at once. Change one thing at a time if you need to. Since I have been coaching others, I have noticed that people tend to get down on themselves if they don’t get it all perfect the first week. There will be bumps in the road for sure, but strive to get a little healthier bit by bit. Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint!
Need more inspiration? Read about our other weight-loss winners!
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