Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that features the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Josh Bartosz is 34, 6-feet 4 inches tall, and currently weighs 219 pounds. In 2015, after struggling to climb a flight of stairs, he made a weight-loss bet with his wife. He was able to change his unhealthy habits and found a passion for fitness. This is the story, in his own words, of his weight-loss journey.
The Turning Point
I had been overweight my entire life. But in 2015, I got a job as a software developer and the job was located up a set of stairs. While climbing up the stairs, I noticed that I struggled with every step. I would sweat and gasp for air. I expressed my concern to my wife, who then came up with a challenge: “Whoever loses 10% of their body fat first, wins!” This was my initial motivation.
I started with food, eliminating the biggest things first, like soda, fast food, candy, and high sugar/ simple carb items — the food we all know is bad but continue to eat anyway. If I found myself craving any of those items, I would mentally go somewhere else. I wouldn’t allow myself to think about it. I had several moments where I was at war with my bad habits. Most of the time, I would win those battles, but occasionally I would slip. Then I would recognize my mistake and continue on. Once I conquered those items, I targeted broader food groups like simple carbs, high fructose corn syrup, and processed foods. I was really intrigued with clean eating and started to notice that it took a lot less food to satisfy my hunger when the food was wholesome and natural.
I tried to live by the motto, “Never hungry. Never full.” I would literally search everything before I put it in my mouth. “Is X bad for you?” “Is X comprised of simple carbs or complex carbs?” “How many calories in X?” By doing this, it gave me food knowledge I never had before. Foods that I thought were good for me were, in fact, not! It also made me aware of everything I put in my mouth. I tracked calories but tried not to be too hard on myself; I was stricter with my food choices and with the clean- eating lifestyle.
While struggling to maintain good eating habits, I would exercise every day. For me, it was easier to develop a habit when I’d go every day compared to going, say, three or even five days a week. In my opinion, doing something every day is the best way to establish a habit. At the gym, I would do nothing but cardio (a mistake, I realized later). I started on the elliptical, and within three months lost nearly 40 pounds. I would constantly push myself. I gauged my workouts by the sweat on my shirt. If there wasn’t a big enough sweat spot, I wasn’t working out hard enough. If it seemed easy, I would push harder until I was struggling. This went on for months (and is still going on today) until eventually, through all my hard work, I found my love of running. I started with one mile. Once I could complete a mile without struggling, I would extend my distance. As time went on, one mile turned into two and eventually 26.2! I would never think about whether I could finish a 10K or a half marathon, I would just put one foot in front of the other and always accomplish what I told myself I was going to accomplish.
Initially, I was very tired. But as time went on, I started to develop more energy. Exercise became my coffee, and my mood would suffer if I took a day off. I would exercise before work and if I was in a bad mood, my boss would ask, “Did you run today? You need to go run!”
The way I feel is indescribable. To look in the mirror and like what I see looking back at me is something everyone should experience. I have great pride in myself now — both physically and emotionally. This is the first time I’ve ever felt like that.
Life has changed a lot. I’m happier now, and that directly affects the people around me, especially my family. I did not want my son and stepson to be overweight like me, and the impact I made on them has forever changed the trajectory of my family’s overall health. Healthy eating and healthy living is now a priority in my house, and it always will be. We are all way more active and do things we couldn’t do before, like hiking. I’ll even go on runs with my 5-year-old son.
My wife calls me a freak because I work out twice a day. I lift weights five days a week and run seven days, which totals between 25-35 miles a week. I will take a day off from running here and there because my IT band will start to get sore, but that only happens once every three weeks or so. I consistently eat clean, but my calories have gradually increased to provide the nutrients needed to gain muscle, which is one of my newer goals.
On top of the lifting and running, I constantly walk to try and win challenges on my Fitbit. The Fitbit helps me keep track of how much movement and walking I’m doing on any given day. I try to average around 20K a day, but sometimes I fall short because of time and other responsibilities.
I’ve become addicted to achieving fitness goals. They motivate me to be better, faster, and slimmer. My wife has been so helpful in preparing meals, doing constant laundry (as a runner, you really go through a lot of clothes), and being the best moral support a person could ask for. Without her, I’m not sure I would be where I am today.
I sometimes struggle with getting up in the morning to work out, but I have found that once I get my gear on, I’m good to go.
Constantly raising my standards and setting new goals keeps me motivated. This year I set a goal of running the Portland marathon, four half marathons, and several other runs that happen at different times of the year. As those races approach, I set goals for time and pace, which keeps me constantly pushing my intensity.
Food knowledge is No. 1! Look up information on everything you eat and you’ll learn exactly what is good and not good for you. The next thing to do is buy only healthy food. If you have nothing but clean food in your cupboards and have a bad day, then your day isn’t really that bad because you ate nothing but good food. Also, try to limit going out to eat unless you know exactly what is in the food. The reason I suggest that is because a lot of places don’t offer nutrition information for their meals and if you’re trying to be aware of your intake, this can cause some issues.
In my opinion, fitness is nothing more than habit. The best advice I can give is to exercise every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s walking one mile or running 10; what matters is that you do it every day. It took me three months to create my habit and those three months were the most difficult. But once that habit is formed, it becomes as automatic as brushing your teeth. Fitness becomes easier. You can start to raise intensity and really start pushing yourself to burn that fat!
Need more inspiration? Read about our other weight-loss winners!
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