Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Josh Bartosz is 34, 6’4” 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 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 wanted to make a bet. The bet was, “Whoever can lose 10% of their body fat first, wins!” This was my initial motivation.
I first started with food, eliminating the biggest things first, like pop, fast food, candy, and high sugar/ simple carb items — you know, the food we all know is bad but continue to eat anyways. 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 every once in awhile, I would slip. After slipping, 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 meet my hunger needs 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 food] bad for you?” “Is [X food] simple carbs or complex carbs?” “What are the 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 did track calories but I was a little more flexible when it came to calories as I was stricter with food choices and the clean eating lifestyle.
While mentally at war with my 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, 3 or even 5 days a week. In my opinion, doing something every day is the ticket to creating a habit quicker. At the gym, I would do nothing but cardio (a mistake I realized later). I started on the elliptical and within 3 months lost nearly 40 pounds. I would constantly push myself with intensity. 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 1 mile. Once I could complete 1 mile without struggling, I would extend my distance. As time went on, 1 mile turned into 2 and eventually 26.2. I would never think about whether I could finish a 10k or half marathon, I would just put one foot in front of the other and always do what I told myself I was going to do.
Initially, I was very tired. But as time went on, I started to develop more energy. Exercise became my coffee and it would impact my mood if I took a day off. I would work out 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/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 5 days a week and run 7 days which is typically around 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’s once every 3 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/walking I’m doing on any given day. I try to average around 20k a day but sometimes I fall a little short because of time and other responsibilities.
I’ve grown addicted to achieving fitness goals. They make me hungry to be better, faster, and slimmer. Thankfully, my wife has been so helpful in preparing meals, doing constant laundry (because 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 which are spread out throughout the year. As those races approach, I also set goals for time and pace which also keeps me constantly pushing my intensity.
Food knowledge is number one! Look up everything you eat and you’ll learn exactly what is good and not good for you. The next thing to do is to set your environment up for success by only buying 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, really 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 a mile or running ten; 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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