Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Tim Bauer is 37 and currently weighs 193 pounds. In 2010, after being obese for most of his life, he was finally able to create lasting change by focusing on smaller, incremental weight loss goals. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.
The Turning Point
In kindergarten, I wanted to be a chef so I could cook for myself. I loved food. I loved it so much that in 5th grade it really started to show. I was 9 years old 105 pounds. My weight spiraled out of control as the years went on. The first time I remember knowing that I had reached a bad place was 13 years old. I’d fallen madly in teenage crush-love with a girl and we became very close friends. Eventually I worked up the courage to tell her how I felt only to find out that she loved my very fit and incredibly charming best friend.
This would start a pattern where I would find myself alternating between pretending like my weight didn’t matter and letting myself wrongly believe that it was to blame for problems that it wasn’t. It led to a spiral of depression, delusion, confusion and frustration.
At 31 years old, I was an aspiring public speaker and I was invited to speak to a group of incoming freshman at a local university. I was supposed to teach them to avoid five practices that the university had identified as things they may struggle with. There was just one problem; on the list of things of things to cover — alongside alcohol abuse and cheating/dishonesty — was unhealthy eating habits. How could I teach them to avoid the Freshman 15 when I was still holding on to my Freshman 250? I wrote the five practices on five tennis balls (visual aids are helpful when giving speeches). But on the day of the lecture, I made a last minute decision to leave the “unhealthy eating habits” tennis ball in the car and rushed away. It was in this moment, when I was terrified and running away from a tennis ball, that I recognized my surroundings as rock bottom. Something had to change.
I made the decision after my talk that from that day forth, I would be perfect and never eat another unhealthy thing for the rest of my life. That streak lasted roughly 18 hours before I stopped at my favorite Mexican drive through. The next morning, I wasn’t ready to give up. Maybe there was a place between apathy and perfection. I decided to start with one healthy practice a week. The first week, I stopped eating sugar. The second week, I ditched my favorite thing to binge on — pasta and rice. The third week, I avoided chips.
I tried to keep my focus on the next pound I had to lose. In my head, I wasn’t trying to lose 225 pounds; I was trying to lose 1 pound, and after I would lose that, I would tell myself I just needed to lose 1 more. By focusing on these incremental goals, I never felt overwhelmed or afraid I couldn’t do it.
I started trying to become healthier because I realized that I was living a life that was inconsistent with the way I saw myself and the person I’ve always believed I was. I was an inspirational speaker who didn’t inspire himself. When I was overweight, in order to sleep at night, I would tell myself things like, being healthy isn’t important to me. Once I started to lose weight, I finally felt like I was living what I preached.
There were times when my resolve was tested. In the middle of my journey, my marriage ended, but I didn’t allow that to become an excuse. Towards the end, my father passed away after a lifestyle-caused stroke. Instead of turning to food, I found other healthy ways to deal with my emotions, through counseling and meditation.
Physically, I’ve never felt better. For the first time in my life, my health is not something that limits me in any way. I don’t have to think about my knees or back before accepting an invitation to a party. I can move easily through crowded rooms and fit into airplane seats. I am still surprised when someone compliments me physically. I was 34 years old the first time a woman who did not give birth to me told me I was handsome. But most importantly, my daughters can finally wrap their arms all the way around me. They can finally sit in my lap without my belly getting in the way.
Emotionally, I have had to learn that I am capable of being loved and being happy. I believe that my food addiction was a symptom of a greater disease —a n inability to deal with my emotions — and I have spent the better part of three years learning how to reconcile those feelings and unconditionally loving myself. This has been the the key to weight maintenance for me.
The most important daily habit I have is my writing about weight loss and maintenance. I keep journals, give talks, and just keep my mind engaged in health and wellness. I have completely abandoned perfectionism and accept my mistakes as part of the journey. I also don’t think I could have maintained if I hadn’t learned to cook.
I am focused on powerlifting with my trainer and will typically weight train 4 times per week. Right now, I’m nursing an injury until January and I have taken up swimming during my down time and I swim 1.25 miles five times per week.
In a lot of ways, I’m still fat in the head. Sometimes my palms get sweaty walking through a crowded room because I’m scared I won’t fit. I get nervous approaching airplane seats or when clothes feel too snug. I struggle to know whether or not to reintroduce trigger foods into my diet because I wonder if I can successfully moderate the foods I used to overeat.
Learning to abandon perfection and embrace failure as a necessary part of the journey has helped me overcome my struggle with obesity, yo-yo dieting and food addiction. It’s something I feel so strongly about that I gave a TEDx talk on the subject earlier this year.
Decide that you will lose weight because you love yourself. Decide that you will be healthy because you are a happy person and we need you. When we compare our journeys to others or try to live healthy to somehow earn love from ourselves or others, we are abusing ourselves and accepting a story that isn’t true. The truth is that you already deserve your own love and you are loved already, whether you know it or not. As long as you remember that, you will find your way to embracing your inner butterfly.
Need more inspiration? Read about our other weight-loss winners!
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