Wellness Wins is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Dustin Hall is 6’3” tall and currently weighs 217 pounds. In 2016, after realizing the adverse effects his weight was having on his life and health, he was determined to change. This is his weight-loss journey.
The Turning Point
I was 32 when I was at my heaviest weight. My weight restricted me so much. I remember not being able to tie my shoes. I wasn’t able to cross my legs and I would sweat doing basic things like reaching for things and bending down. I felt trapped, confined and depressed at my highest weight. When I got up to 534 pounds, I wasn't living anymore; I was working to breathe and just get by.
I remember a moment when I was headed to the beach. We parked a few hundred feet away and we walked towards the ocean. Halfway to the ocean I was so tired and out of breath that I had to sit down. I was sitting on a rock trying to catch my breath after only walking for a little bit. My weight had robbed me of seeing something I loved: the ocean. I knew I needed to make a change.
In July of 2016, after consulting with my doctor, I had gastric bypass surgery. I knew this wasn't a quick fix and I had experienced plenty of people around me that had done it and weren’t successful. Days before my surgery, I promised my wife that I was going to take my health seriously. I wasn’t going to cheat and I was going to aggressively get my life back. I started by grabbing a Fitbit and just walking. I committed to walking 10,000 steps a day, with no exception. For six weeks, I walked 4-5 times a day during a break or after work and made sure I got those 10,000 steps in.
Once I felt acclimated to walking, I joined a gym. I started on the cardio machines and committed to going an hour a day. I progressively built my strength and stamina to make working out normal for me. After the second set of six weeks, I started the circuit at my gym and eventually began strength training. Now, I enjoy going six days a week and working both cardio and strength training into my workouts. I usually focus on a muscle group a day, with leg day twice a week. I incorporate core and balance movements in every workout for additional strength.
My diet changed dramatically. I started by tracking calories, with a focus on eating high protein, low carbs and low sugar. I tracked what I ate, what was in it and how it affected my progress. I made changes along the way and eventually got to a point where I knew the macros in my meals and was able to be successful with having a lot of the same good foods. I committed to not cheating until I reached my goal weight and only eating what was productive for my journey.
Patience was a big thing I had to learn in this process. I felt good that I was losing weight but during days when I didn't see the changes or feel them, I would get discouraged. My mindset had to change from instant, temporary satisfaction to patient, long-term success.
My motivation came from desperation. When I got over 500+ pounds, it was dark and it was overwhelming. Though at times the results were slow, I could see my body changing. It felt like each day there was another glimmer of hope for me to come out of the darkness.
My confidence increased a lot. I was no longer worried that the first thing people thought of me was about my size. I felt like I could start with a clean slate with people I met. A big positive side effect was being able to ride roller coasters at Disneyland. That was a sore spot because I had spent many years waiting in line and had been denied because of my size. Being able to get in line and ride the ride was a huge accomplishment
Emotionally, I changed in a drastic way. Insecurities come with being overweight. Caring what people think is almost an everyday occurrence and my emotional state changed drastically in the process. Day by day, I cared less of what people thought of me, and more about what I thought of myself and what I wanted out of life.
I had to reintroduce myself to many people who hadn’t seen me in that gap of time. I had been big my whole life and my new weight was a totally different look for me. I remember the faces people would give when the light bulb went off that I was the same person — that was quite rewarding. My wife at moments would gasp and say, "I can't believe how far you've come.” Each new discovery of my new weight was extra motivation to keep going.
Now, surprisingly, I can do a handstand. An actual handstand.
I go to the gym six days a week, which gives me a chance to do legs twice and each muscle group once a week. I do rotate every six weeks to increase or decrease cardio and strength training and use different machines.
I started out by just counting calories but, I moved to tracking my macronutrients and now, since I’m a creature of habit, I eat the same things. The main things I look for in my diet are high protein foods and I try to avoid higher carb stuff, especially sugar.
I make sure that my gym clothes are washed and I have the right food stocked in my fridge. My success now really depends on how I plan. If I plan ahead I will be successful. If I find myself not ready to go to the gym or I don't have a plan on what to eat that day or week, I will fail.
Two big things motivate me now: the overwhelming comments of inspiration from people and the ability to change my genetics. The comments I began to get from people on my Instagram were very motivating for me and in turn, drove me to keep going. When people say they are inspired to get healthy again or my journey has helped inspire them to keep going, it's motivating.
The loose skin is becoming an increasing issue. I have about 7-10 pounds of loose skin according to the surgeon. A good example of the struggle is when I’m doing jumping backs it feels like I’m jumping twice with the skin. I work with compression outfits and try to wear my shorts high enough to mitigate it.
My diet and exercise plan have actually been the easier things because I am a creature of habit and my diet and exercise plan is habit.
Start slow and know that there isn't one plan for everyone. Everyone is different and every body is different. When starting to get healthy, incorporate things into your life you're prepared to do for the rest of your life. It's not a race — it's a journey. Taking care of ourselves is a long-term, full-time thing. If you need to start with just taking a walk, do it. If it's cutting out a small thing from your diet and gradually increasing the good foods, do it. Don't let emotions, stress or circumstances control your health. Be aggressive with your health and take control. Control the narrative.
Need more inspiration? Read about our other Wellness Winners!
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