Wellness Wins is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Shane Cole is 6’2” tall and currently weighs 185 pounds. In 2017, after struggling with his weight for most of his life, he decided to make a change for the sake of his health and his family. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.
The Turning Point
I grew up an overweight kid, mindlessly snacking, attempting to calm my anxiety with food. While I was very self-conscious about my weight, I never really felt like I could change. I was always into sports, hockey specifically, but I never felt like my weight limited me enough to make changing an urgent matter.
As I got older, I started to allow myself to face the reality that I was heading down a dangerous path. My family has a long history of heart disease and my father had a cancer scare and was recently diagnosed with diabetes. As a father of two young girls, I knew I had to do something to alter the terrifying path I was on. That’s easier said than done as someone who has battled levels of depression, anxiety, and alcoholism. But back in January of 2017, I had something of an awakening when I decided that it was time to change.
Over the last decade, I had tried and failed at a number of different weight loss methods. I started to run using the Couch to 5k program as a guide, working my way up to running a couple 5k races and even a 10k race, and cutting my 325-pound weight down into the 290s. But frankly, I didn’t enjoy running enough to keep it up once I had met my goals of running those races.
After that I started doing P90x, which helped greatly with strength training and agility, but most importantly it taught me the importance of calorie counting and fueling my body the right way. Nearly through one cycle of the program, I had worked my way down to my lowest adult weight of 260. After a move and a new baby, I wasn’t able to keep up with the program and I gained all that weight back.
At the end of the day, you have to find something sustainable for you. The third time around things started to click. I had fallen back in love with playing hockey and using the knowledge I had gained about dieting, I made a commitment to myself in January of 2017 to cook all of my food at home for one month. I always loved cooking and thanks to sites like FitMenCook.com, I learned that healthy eating didn’t have to be chicken breasts, brown rice, and broccoli every night. It also helped having macros listed for each recipe, and it was exciting to try new, healthy substitutions for meals I had always loved. They say you can’t outrun a bad diet and things really took a positive turn when I completely changed how I ate.
Beyond that, I started intermittent fasting, following a 16:8 protocol where I only eat during an 8-hour window. For me, bingeing late at night was an issue. By telling myself I only eat between the hours of 11 a.m. and 7 p.m., it became a lot easier to tell myself that I simply don’t eat after 7 than to snack responsibly.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say seeing results was the biggest motivator. I had been willfully oblivious to how much I was actually eating, and when I started limiting my meals to 450-550 calories a day and 400 calories’ worth of snacks (totaling 1,900-2,000 calories a day) the weight started melting off. It felt amazing to see these positive changes and even during plateaus I trusted the process, knowing that as long as I focus on calories in vs. calories out (CICO), I would get the results I wanted.
Everything snowballed in a positive way. As I got healthier physically, I felt like I had more mental clarity. It’s hard to explain, but I felt like myself for the first time. The more weight I lost, the more energy I had, and the more I wanted to test this new body. I played more hockey, I fell in love with hiking, and I started lifting. The more I worked out, the more I wanted to make sure those workouts meant something so I didn’t want to eat back those calories burned.
The biggest surprise to me is how much energy I have and how I’m able to do things physically that I thought I’d never be able to do. Even something as simple as doing pull-ups were on the list of things that I didn’t think I’d ever be able to achieve, but now I can do them. I can get out and run a 5k at will. I can play hockey for two hours or more straight. None of this used to be within the realm of possibility for me.
I try to stay active six to seven days a week, typically getting at least two nights of hockey along with three days of strength training. Throw in a hike and a day of yoga/stretching and there’s usually something on my schedule for each day. Because of all this activity, I can actually eat 3,000+ calories a day, which has been a strange transition after focusing on a 2,000-calorie diet for so long.
I have two main strategies that I try to adhere to every day. First, I always try to follow a “No Zero Days” philosophy with nutrition and fitness. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have days where I had no desire to work out or I just wanted to binge like crazy, but what I always try to do each and every day is take at least one positive step toward my goal. For example, if you don’t feel like working out? Do it for five minutes then you can quit. Most people won’t quit after the blood starts pumping during those five minutes.
Second, make calorie tracking part of your routine. It can be overwhelming at first, but one practice that’s helped me along the way is planning out my food for the next day the night before. It takes 10 minutes, but it will help keep you on track and keep you from having to track every item throughout your busy days. Take the guesswork out of weight-loss. Trust in thermodynamics.
I’m motivated now to fine tune my body and take advantage of this new lease on life. Looking back, I hate to think about all of the years I wasted in terrible shape, but there’s nothing I can do about that. What I can do is keep setting goals and challenging myself to improve my conditioning, add muscle, improve on the hockey rink, etc. Long-term I want to be one of those 60 year olds that people look at and think, ‘Wow! How does he keep chugging along at that age?’
It’s still a struggle not to go crazy on cheat days now and then, but one thing I’ve gotten better about is not beating myself up after the fact. All you can do in those instances is get right back on the horse the next day and make sure to stay below your calorie goals. One day isn’t enough to derail weeks of progress.
Focus first and foremost on tracking calories and the calories in, calories out method. You can do keto, Atkins, high-carb, whatever, but one thing all successful diet plans have in common is that you have to eat at a caloric deficit. The good news is that you can treat yourself fairly regularly as long as you make it fit in your macros. Obviously, whole foods are better, but at the end of the day what really matters is making sure you’re eating at a caloric deficit. If you do that, you will lose weight.
No zero days. Don’t want to go to the gym? Just put on your tennis shoes and step out the door. You’ll be surprised how the hardest step is most often the first and once you take a small step in the right direction, you follow through with the rest of your workout.
Don’t be afraid to change what you’re doing to keep things fresh. Are you starting to dread going to the gym? Start hiking or running instead. Tired of the same dietary plan? Shake things up and try a new diet plan while keeping your calorie goals.
Love yourself, educate yourself, and learn to love the process. Be mindful of how good it feels to take positive steps. Research your methodology and don’t buy into fad diets and workouts — and don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way. Adapt to find a sustainable lifestyle that you love and do it for yourself and nobody else. You’ll be surprised how fitness and nutrition can become a hobby.
Need more inspiration? Read about our other wellness winners!
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle: