How This Guy Lost 195 Pounds With VSG Surgery
Hi! Tell us about yourself…why did you decide to start losing weight?
Needed to take my life back. I was just sitting on the sidelines for every big event in my friend’s and families’ lives. My doctors told me I wouldn’t be around much longer if I didn’t do something drastic. I had just become an uncle the year prior and I wanted to be around for my nephew. There wasn’t any big “aha” moment or anything. Just the subtle realization that I’m going to die if I don’t do something now.
So in September 2019, I had VSG (Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy Surgery) which is a form of Weight Loss Surgery where they essentially remove 80% of your stomach. As a result, you are very limited in your food intake. I know this seems extreme, but I need that restriction – otherwise, I would never stop eating. It’s completely forced me to relearn how to eat – focusing on protein and limiting the other junk.
What was your workout routine? Can you give us what a typical week looked like for you working out?
Before having weight loss surgery I actually was really into working out. I did amateur strongman and powerlifting competitions. So the hardest part after surgery was transitioning from a normal power split of push/pull days with max effort…to now trying to keep it more cardio-based and even try HIIT.
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I already had a home gym due to my previous lifting and was able to transition to StreetParking programming which is an at-home HIIT/Crossfit style routine. I had to start very slow as I was incredibly out of shape, to begin with, but my cardio was nowhere near what a healthy person should’ve been. However, I did stick with it and made a goal in 2020 to workout every single day. This was a silly/dumb move because I know how important rest days are. But I also know myself and for me to stick with something, I need to make a stupid outrageous goal to force my stubborn butt to get it done.
I was able to work out the 366 days (leap year) and not miss a workout. I won’t lie and pretend every day was some PR-level experience. I had some crazy good days and other days where I had no drive to be there… and may have “half-assed” it. But it was more than nothing and I did get my heart rate up.
In 2021 I’ve started taking rest days and listening to my body. I’ve also transitioned to some more Olympic Style lifting being incorporated. I always wanted to try it and it’s currently pushing me while also kicking my butt. Very humbling.
What was your nutrition like? Can you give us what a typical day of eating looked like?
Well due to VSG my food intake is very limited. Overtime my stomach can “re-stretch” back to the bigger pouch it used to be before surgery. However typically I’m a creature of habit, so I do eat the same thing most days (at least M-F).
Every Morning: I start with a Protein shake (with caffeine – Premier) followed by 20oz of water and then finish off with a banana.
Mid Morning Snack is usually a small handful of Cashews.
Lunch: This is where there is some variant with the protein, but it’s always 4oz of a protein.
Mid Afternoon: Cold Brew Coffee and string cheese.
Dinner: 4oz of protein again + vegetables of some sort.
Pre-Workout Snack: I found myself feeling very ill if I didn’t “carb” up before working out so I implemented having a Chocolate Rice Cake + Skippys Nature Peanut Butter and that has helped me stop feeling sick after workouts and also curb some of my sweet teeth.
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How did you stay motivated to lose weight? Did you ever slip up?
It’s a very tough journey. I’m lucky enough to have a partner who also had VSG and is very very understanding of all the hardships. She’s always there to pick me up and motivate me while being my biggest support.
I think the mental side isn’t talked about enough during these types of journeys. You can go out every day and do the physical work, but the mental work is the hardest. Staying motivated, staying focused, not getting in your head, and allowing your old habits from reforming and sabotaging all your progress.
You just need to remember why you are doing this or why you chose to do this. You deserve everything you want and don’t let anyone (including yourself) prevent that from happening.
When did you start to notice progress?
I still have difficulty noticing progress. Yes, it’s easy to see now looking back at photos from my starting point till now. But in my head, I will always reference the old big guy as myself. Thanks to Instagram I’ve actually taken lots of photos during the journey – so that’s a huge tool I can use to compare my progress.
Most people I haven’t seen in a while say I lost the weight super fast. It’s been about 15 months so that may be very quick. But in my head, it was a long process and I feel one day I just woke up and had lost all this weight.
My biggest moment that hit me in the face with showing me my progress thus far was when I went to a Hockey Game and just casually sat in the seat. For 10+ years I was unable to attend sporting events because I couldn’t fit in the seat. So this was huge!
Did you use any sort of trackers/apps/scales to track your progress?
The Surgeon’s team, which did include a nutritionist, had suggested I use the Baritastic App. I still use this to this day, it’s very useful with tracking all my food, water, weight, body measurements, etc. I love this app because it has everything I need in one spot, keeps the log, and I can compare my new measurements to my old measurements and is another great tool to not allow myself to self-sabotage my progress.
As far as tracking my workouts, I use WODIFY for my normal HIIT/Crossfit workouts. I can keep track of my progress in the app with my strength. I also purchased an Apple watch which has helped me get into good habits as well. It reminds me to keep moving, get at minimum a 40 min workout a day, and stand for 12 hours.
Do you have any weight loss “hacks” or “secrets” that helped you succeed?
This is going to sound unorthodox and may not relate to individuals not on Instagram or in the WLS community on there. But I’ve found the biggest help to me succeeding was Instagram “friends.”
There are many silly tags on Instagram, however, in the weight loss community, there are two tags I loved.
1- Stop drop Chug – which means if you got tagged… you better go out, drink your water and take a picture showing you did it. At the beginning of the journey, this was huge because protein and water are the two BIGGEST things a WLS patient needs.
2- Gym Checkin – Which is just like the name implies, it’s a picture of yourself after your workout. At the very beginning of this journey – it may seem super weird but when I got tagged by accounts/people I followed and were motivated and inspired by them… I felt guilty If I didn’t go out and bust my ass in the gym so I can take a picture and prove to them I’m doing the work.
Obviously, this won’t help or apply to everyone and maybe I’m a weirdo. But on multiple occasions just that simple tag of making sure I’m being consistent and working out. Helped me forge new habits that I use today.
Do you have any fitness books/podcasts/websites that you’d recommend and why?
I don’t read a lot of fitness books, I’d rather listen to them on a podcast or even a video. However, Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett is my favorite “fitness” book. It goes into GREAT detail on how to unbreak yourself. It teaches you how to treat, stretch and release lots of muscle pains and impingements that may make you less primed for your physical greatness.
As far as podcasts, I enjoyed ones related to the Weight Loss Surgery Community and while being a male in this community, which I feel is more female-dominated, It was hard to find some that address the male side of the process. I love listening to; Fat Guy Forum by Gormy, ALG Podcast (accountablelifegroup) by John and David, and then not WLS related I love the UmSo Podcast by Matt Vincent.
What is your best advice to beginners who are looking to lose weight?
Start TODAY. Don’t put it off, don’t wait for the right time. Go out there and take your life back! I waited so many times for the right time, or “I’ll start Monday.” I look back, and everything happens for a reason. But I wish I had done this years ago. This journey has opened my eyes to so many more possibilities that I never imagined possible.
Where can we find more about you?
I can be found on Instagram @shrinking400!
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