Wellness Wins is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Martin Hendrickson is 6’4” tall and currently weighs 234 pounds. In 2019, after struggling with his weight for most of his life, he was inspired to finally change his lifestyle after seeing photos of himself at the beach. This is the story of his weight-loss journey, as told to Yahoo Lifestyle.
The Turning Point
There was never a time in my life where my weight wasn’t an issue. Growing up, my diet was beyond unhealthy. My parents never bought any junk food, but I had my ways of obtaining it. I vividly remember drinking five cans of soda and eating whole bags of chips in one day as a child. Food was my best friend, and I was bullied by my peers for being heavier. In middle school, I began to notice that my physical appearance hindered my ability to socialize. I became insecure.
Food was an easy fix — I could just eat and eat and receive brief sparks of happiness. This resulted in gaining even more weight, making my life more uncomfortable than before. In my senior year, I was 364 pounds — this was my highest weight. At college, I was drinking 12 packs of soda in the span of a couple of days. I drank more soda than water. I ate fast food every day and would end the day with a couple of packs of candy.
During a beach trip, my friend and I were taking photos on the shore. I can vividly remember an overwhelming feeling of sadness and self-disgust after seeing the photos. For the first time in my life, there was a moment of self-reflection. I realized the body is constructed with materials of your choosing — for me, my body was built by years of anxiety and hopelessness. That realization gave me the desire to become the greatest version of myself possible.
It began one night while I was doing laundry. While my clothes were drying, I figured I’d do a one-hour workout on an elliptical machine. It was an excruciatingly difficult workout, but I decided I would do the workout every single day from then on. Along with pouring all of my remaining soda down the drain, I downloaded MyFitnessPal and began tracking calories.
However, I soon developed a fear of eating too many calories, which led to depriving myself of almost any food with a high number of calories or sugar in it. I strongly advise that anyone starting their journey to not start like me — I didn’t know what I was doing and had an incredibly dangerous diet. Most days, I only ate salad and protein shakes. I felt hungry, angry and stressed.
I fasted for 16 hours a day and did the elliptical workout at the end of the fast when I was most hungry. I returned home for the summer and my diet improved: I added whole foods, including vegetables and fish and chicken. I slowly started running and got to the point where I could run five miles a day.
I felt tired, exhausted and alone, but driven. I drew inspiration from others who had lost weight, watching their stories and approach to fat loss. Most of them were in worse situations than I was, and some couldn’t even leave their homes at first. If they could do it, then so could I — and there was absolutely no reason to quit.
It’s so nice to be able to sit comfortably in class, go to clothing stores knowing I can fit into their clothes, and climb stairs without getting out of breath.
It feels like people take me more seriously and don’t see me as some sort of real-life comedic relief. Despite receiving compliments from my peers, though, I still felt like the man I was before I lost weight. Recently, the journey has been more of a mental one than a physical one.
I try to workout 5 to 6 days a week and lift weights more often than cardio. I eat about 2,300 calories a day and have cut out most processed food. Intermittent fasting does wonders. You eventually require less energy for the day and it makes everything easier.
My transformation is sort of terrifying in that I lost a significant amount of weight in the span of seven months. What I did takes years for some people. People have told me that it was unhealthy and could be dangerous. I want to influence people to do what I did, but I want them to do it in a safe way. Also, if you don’t take the time to love yourself for your personality and character, you will never be able to appreciate your body.
Do it for you. If you’re doing it for the approval of your peers, then it will never stick. Compliments are wonderful, but they wear off. Find a healthy reason as to why you want to change — one that can make the transformation stick.
You can follow @martins_fitness_account on Instagram to keep up with Hendrickson’s journey.
Need more inspiration? Read about our other wellness winners!
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: