Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo Health series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Beau Jacobson is 23 years old, 6′3″, and currently weighs 200 pounds. In high school, he weighed 285 pounds, but his desire to lose weight led him to develop a binge-eating disorder that dropped him to 159 pounds. This is how he found his way out of that disorder to a healthy lifestyle today.
The Turning Point
When I was 11 years old, both my mom and dad remarried and I went to a new school. I think because of this new period of change in my life, I turned to food for comfort. They pantry was always loaded with almost every Little Debbie snack cake you can imagine. I was a huge fan of Lunchables, Oreos, pizza, Lean Pockets (and I took the fact that they were called “lean” to mean I could eat a lot of them), and of course, McDonald’s. I ate and ate and ate.
In high school, it was the same old, same old: more eating, choir, and a lot of football. I loved football — I loved playing offensive line, and to play on the line, you have to be big. So weighing 280 pounds was viewed as acceptable because I was just “football big.” I was also in choir, and during my junior year we did a jazz show on stage. That’s when a light bulb turned on for me. My weight was definitely an issue. I told myself, “Once football is over, I’m losing weight. I will never get on stage and look like that again.”
I kept weight training hard like I did every offseason in football, made a lot of food swaps (like trading Chipotle burritos — filled with every unhealthy thing they had — for Subway sandwiches), and started playing a lot of pickup basketball for cardio. Ninety percent of the change was through my diet. I lost 45 pounds in about three months for the next choir performance, and another 20 pounds by graduation.
Then I moved to Lubbock so that I could attend college at Texas Tech. I joined Sigma Phi Epsilon, excelled in my classes, and still made time to work out. However, this is when I began binge-eating. It started when I saw a picture of myself online. I thought I looked bad and was so afraid of ever becoming big again that I decided to change what I was doing. I would eat really healthy during the weekdays and then go all out — eating whatever I wanted — on Saturdays. Many times, I would go to the dining hall and grab a pint of Blue Bell ice cream, a box of Gobstoppers, and some Oreos. The next day, I would wake up feeling so guilty that I’d hardly eat anything.
Over the next year, I started running three miles a day, hitting the weight room and consuming less than 1,000 calories per day Monday through Friday. Then on the weekends, I would eat about 4,000 calories each day. Still, I was dropping weight. People told me all the time, “You look thin” — and they didn’t mean it in a good way. They were concerned.
The breaking point came when my dad asked me, “If I set you up with a trainer, would you go?” I thought about it and said yes because I wanted to gain more muscle. I needed that push. I met my trainer, Justin Blevins, and immediately respected his approach. He didn’t try to accuse me of doing everything wrong; instead, he wanted to educate me and help mold me into a healthy person. Through his help, I began to realize how messed up my relationship with food and exercise had been. I started eating seven meals a day, weight trained like crazy, and — most importantly — stopped binge-eating.
After overcoming my eating disorder and working with my trainer, I started seeing changes and feeling better about the way I looked. I began to feel different, too. I had a lot more energy, and over time I have gained more confidence. I sing gigs around town and now I’m not even afraid to step up in front of a large crowd and sing.
I’m also planning to compete in the Men’s Physique division of the National Physique Committee in the summer of 2016. It’s like bodybuilding, but with no Speedos and you don’t have to be quite as big as famous bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Beau when he was at 285 pounds (left), and Beau today, at a healthy 200 pounds. (Photos courtesy of Beau Jacobson)
Since I’m prepping for that competition, my diet is pretty extreme. I’m currently eating five meals a day. One meal has six ounces of lean protein like turkey or chicken, one meal has six ounces of a fattier protein like steak or salmon, one meal is an omelet consisting of two eggs and two egg whites, and the other two meals are protein shakes. I drink one immediately post-workout, and work the other in at some point during the day. I eat complex carbs like oatmeal, sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, and fruits, as well as any green vegetable that I like (asparagus and Brussels sprouts are my favorites).
If I have something indulgent, I don’t call it a “cheat meal” — I call it a “reward meal.” If I work hard, my trainer will work a reward meal into my weekly plan. I would be lying if I said that they never make me feel guilty, but I’m still working to overcome every aspect of my mental struggle from my eating disorder. But I remind myself that if I work hard day in and day out, then we deserve to have a reward!
For exercise, I do high-intensity interval training (HIIT) cardio two to three times a week and steady-state cardio two times a week for 30 minutes. I also lift six days a week and really push myself during those sessions so I can reach my full potential. The lifting is intense, but I love it!
For me, in order to maintain my healthy lifestyle, I have to be a creature of habit.
Food prepping is just one of those habits. Every Sunday after church, I go to the grocery store, buy my items, and spend the afternoon cooking my meals. If a meal is already prepared, it takes away any temptation to order a pizza or pick up Chinese takeout. Plus, cooking allows me to make meals that I really enjoy and create some crazy flavor combos!
Working out as early in the day as possible is important because it not only gets it out of the way, but it also tends to make the rest of my day a lot better. When I wake up, have breakfast, and get a great workout in right away, I always feel like my day is already off to a good start.
I stay inspired and moving toward my goal by writing motivational quotes in marker on my mirror. I also find that if you’re open with people about your goals, then those people can help support you and encourage you along the way.
I’m in college, so it’s hard to not get jealous of how others eat. My roommates order pizza and eat donuts all the time. Luckily, I’ve established this healthy routine as part of my lifestyle so the temptation is not as strong as it once was. I remind myself of how much happier I am now, how much stronger I feel mentally and emotionally, and how good it feels to be confident in my appearance. I LOVE my life now that I am living healthy!
Make your workouts fun! Join a gym where you’re comfortable and have people around you that will inspire you, motivate you, and hold you accountable. Going on this journey alone is nearly impossible. I love going to Hero Training Center because through this process, I have made some of my best friendships there. It will make you better physically, mentally, and emotionally to embark on this process with a great support system.
Know that you can do it! You can lose weight. You can overcome the mental barriers associated with eating disorders. You can be healthy and be the best possible version of you! Just have a plan, a goal, and a support system, and soon enough, you’ll be enjoying the rewards that come with a healthy life.