Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
John Boghos is 47, 6’1” tall, and currently weighs 204 pounds. In 2016, after walking through some very serious life and health trauma, he found the motivation to transform his physical and emotional health. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.
The Turning Point
My weight has influenced me in every negative way possible — from how I behaved in relationships and how I performed at work to how I was as a father, a husband, and a friend. My whole life was seen through the lens of being and feeling fat, ugly, unhealthy, depressed, and worthless. I have always been “Big John,” and I have always felt as heavy as I looked.
My turning point was at the tail end of navigating through some of the most difficult times, I have ever had to endure before. I was sad, depressed and alone. I was tipping the scales at 297 pounds. I had enough of this self-imposed feeling of being unworthy. For my entire life, up until my weight loss, I have always been known as “Big John.” My life was defined by limits of what I could do and living up to the expectations of the words of others. January 2016 was my “line in the sand” moment. I haven’t looked back since.
I had enough of feeling unworthy. I decided to claim my life back on Jan. 18, 2016. Call it an unintentional “New Year’s Resolution,” but I was tired of being tired, and I was sick of being who I was. Finally, I decided that only I could change me.
I always had the calorie tracking and weight loss app Lose It! installed on my phone but never used it, and my first step was noticing the caloric values and fat of food I then ate. I quickly found out that eating better, healthier foods was the way to go since I get more food for the caloric buck! I began to eat healthier and have not stopped since. I am not eating anything new, really. I was already eating healthy things, but usually also incorporated a lot of fried foods.
My diet has shifted totally. I used to go to Popeye’s Chicken at least once per week, and I haven’t been there since January 2016. I no longer want to go and I don’t feel deprived because of it.
When I started using Lose It! as a way of life, I was too heavy to be active. So, at first I just tracked my calories. But in March 2016, I joined Planet Fitness. I had gone to the website many times to sign up but kept putting it off, until one day I just pressed “submit” on my application and went there the same day.
Knowing that I had impact limitations on my joints, a friend told me about the recumbent bike. I started with 30 minutes per session and that was all I did. But I did it every day, even on the weekends. Then slowly I started adding in weights.
I was trying to set myself up for long-term success, and I never tried to overdo it. I did as much as I could handle and nothing more. In my entire time that I have been working out, I have never had that life-altering muscle soreness. I never wanted to hate working out, so I kept my efforts measured and simple.
When I started making the changes, I felt empowered. I felt empowered to win, empowered to care about me, empowered to put me first, empowered to love myself. For the first time in my life, I felt empowered to love myself. I felt in control of my life. I felt strong.
The things that kept me motivated were sheer willpower and discipline. There were so many days I did not feel like working out or eating well, but my desire to hit this goal drove me. Along with that, I posted my weekly wellness updates on social media. While I was the only person I knew who was undertaking an endeavor like this, I knew I would need someone to answer to. I wrote out my challenges, my wins, my weight, my gains, and losses. And when people reacted to or commented on my updates, it urged me on.
Along with that, I gave away all of my large clothes the moment I grew out of them. In all of my weight-loss efforts in times past, I always kept the heavier-me clothes around in case I added a few pounds back on, here or there. This time, I simply removed all of my excuses.
Wellness for me has been a holistic journey, but the true core started when I began losing weight. I am better at relationships. I am a better friend, a better family member, and a better employee, all because my confidence and self esteem are up.
I have had many exciting milestones on my journey. Some of my favorite memories are starting to slip out of 36″ waist pants, being able to use airline seat belts without the extenders, being able to cross my legs without a momentum swing, sitting in restaurant booths comfortably, sweating less, not having to stretch out shirts before I wear them, and going from a 3XL shirt to an athletic fit XL. I am now in a 34” and sometimes 32” waist, and my shirt sizes are always size large. Experiencing these moments as a mark of my progress was very motivating.
What surprised me the most was the mental effort I had to put in when I shifted to maintenance mode. When I hit my goal of losing 100 pounds, I sort of lost my purpose. I think my identity was wrapped up in losing weight, my updates, and that effort. So when I rung that bell, I was a little lost. However, I stayed the course, kept tracking and kept up my gym efforts at Planet Fitness. I recently have found my way back to a post-goal life. For me, achieving a goal of this magnitude was new. I have only done one other remarkable thing in this world, and that is becoming a dad. Beyond that, this was a new thing to navigate through.
My typical day:
4 a.m.: My alarm goes off. I leave for the gym at 4:30 a.m., and I eat and drink coffee afterward. At the gym, my workouts have shifted from being strictly cardio to weight lifting with added cardio. I am definitely more sculpted than I used to be.
Typical meals from there:
Breakfast options: 1) A good whole grain cereal with almond milk. 2) One single serving of Chobani Greek yogurt with 1/3 cup granola and fresh berries or a banana. 3) Two pieces of Ezekiel toast — one buttered and one slice with peanut butter.
Lunches: 1) A medium turkey and ham sub (from Firehouse Subs) on wheat, with no mayo or cheese, alongside baked chips and an unsweetened tea. 2) Grilled chicken burgers on a whole wheat roll/wrap with red pepper hummus, tomatoes, and fresh spinach and baked chips and a sparkling water. 3) Barbecue chicken salad from Panera.
Dinner: 1) An entree salad, including loads of veggies and grilled or broiled meat. Dressing is usually olive oil, lemon, salt, and dried mint. 2) Grilled chicken breasts, grilled asparagus, and grilled zucchini. 3) Smoked chicken, collard greens, and salad.
Dessert is a new thing I’ve added back since I reached my weight loss goal, but it’s something small and not an everyday thing. Some options I like are: 1) A Tootsie Pop. 2) One or two coconut macaroons. 3) Two or three Dove Dark Promises.
My family and friends chuckle at me that I will not eat any meals or foods without logging them before, or at the latest while I am eating! Also, having Lose It! Premium gives me the flexibility to pre-plan and pre-enter my meals early, which I often do. Logging keeps me accountable and on track.
The things that inspire me today are helping others who are where I used to be — heavy physically, mentally, and emotionally. Even the happiest of overweight people struggle with their weight, whether it’s admitted or not. I want to help and challenge others, like Richard Simmons but without the short-shorts and nude-colored tights.
My motivation is to see just how cut, thin, and sculpted I can get. It’s a trip to see bicep muscles emerging on my arms. I flex my muscles a lot when no one is looking, not because I am vain but because I cannot fathom that this body is actually mine.
I seriously struggle with body dysmorphia. Some days, no matter what I do, have done, or am planning to do, I still see myself as 300-pound John. I still see the bigger, heavier, fatter, emotionally heavy me. Sometimes on those days, I find myself stretching my shirts out before I wear them when I don’t need to anymore, because I get terrified that I will end up right back where I was.
To work through it, I stop and take stock of where I am. I speak out loud to myself and say, “Okay, John, you used to weigh 304 pounds, you are now at 204. You used to wear 44” waist pants and now are in 34”. You used to wear 3XL shirts and had to stretch those out and now you can slip a size L over you with no stretching needed. This, what you are seeing, is the truth! Anything besides that is lies and conditioning, so transform your thoughts!”
The first step is to determine you are worth it! Self-care is not selfish. Try Lose It! and track every BLT (bite, lick, and taste) of everything you put in your mouth. This will allow you to better evaluate your eating habits and correctly track just how much you are eating so you can adjust for your goals. I like to plan out what I am going to eat so I don’t get caught off guard. Then, get moving — exercise is part of a healthy lifestyle and will really help with your transformation. Stay vigilant so you don’t backslide into unhealthy habits. Being public with your journey on social media will help keep you accountable.
All photos courtesy of John Boghos.
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