Wellness Wins is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Ryan Lensman is 5’11” tall and currently weighs 180 pounds. In 2017, after going to the emergency room and being diagnosed with diabetes, he decided to take control of his health. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.
The Turning Point
I realized my weight was an issue when I got to middle school, and we had to run the mile twice in a year. At first, I would jog the straights and walk the turns on the track, but it became hard for me to even do that. My turning point came when I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes towards the end of September 2017. I was sent to the emergency room for my high blood sugar. I had an HbA1c (3-month blood sugar average) of 10.7, and sugar levels in the 300’s. I knew I had to make a change for the sake of my health.
I cut out everything that was unhealthy. No more fried foods or fast food. I said goodbye to bacon cheeseburgers. I watched my carbs and sugar. After about six months of steadily losing around 2 pounds a week, I decided to go on Weight Watchers. It makes dieting a little more fun because you can use the app to scan food items and see how many points are in each thing you eat. Weight Watchers also has a large list of ”free foods,” such as fruits, vegetables, and grilled chicken. I pretty much had my diet down to a science by the time I started WW, but it helped to see how many points each food was, and so did learning to stick to total number of points each day.
Today, my diet hasn't changed all that much. I eat a lot of lean meats such as grilled chicken and turkey, lots of vegetables, and I fill up on salad with my dinner almost every night. For breakfast, I’ll have egg whites, Greek yogurt, or an apple with some natural peanut butter. For dessert, I’ll have a cup of mixed fruit, or some sugar-free Jell-O.
In the beginning, I focused on my diet before I introduced exercise. The best purchase I’ve ever made was my Fitbit. It turned walking, which was something I hated, into something I now love. I set a step goal for myself and tried my hardest to hit it each day. I still wear my Fitbit every day.
At first, I was walking one mile every day for exercise. Eventually, I brought that up to around six miles split up throughout my day. After a few months, I started to slowly introduce weight lifting. I bought a weight bench for my bedroom and some adjustable dumbbells, and I worked out with those every other day. In December 2018, I decided to finally join a gym. At first I was going to the gym every other day, and doing a full body workout each time. In January, I decided I wanted to take weight lifting very seriously. So, since January, I weight lift six days a week, and I’ve never felt better.
It took a little while in the beginning for me to start seeing weight loss, and it was a little discouraging, but I didn’t give up. There were a lot of things that kept me motivated. My friends and family always being in my corner, seeing the number on the scale continue to go down, being told that the smallest size in the big and tall stores was too big or me, the thought of being able to shop in regular clothing stores was a huge motivator. Being able to walk long distances and not be out of breath, and also not having to apologize for my size.
Physically and emotionally, I’ve never felt better. I can jog now. I’m getting stronger each week. My confidence is much higher. Dating was something I didn’t even try to do when I was obese. I got in my head way too much, so instead of being shot down, which back then I knew in my heart would 100 percent happen, I didn’t even try to date or approach women. Now I have a girlfriend who’s great, and was worth the wait.
I will be the first to tell you, I never thought I could lose weight on my own. I always thought I’d need surgery to lose weight, but once I was doing it for a while, I got it down to a science, and it just became routine. The little things still surprise me. Like sitting in the driver’s seat and being able to reach over my body with my right hand to grab the seat belt, no longer getting anxiety when sitting in a wooden chair, or sitting in a booth at a restaurant. No longer feeling bad for the stranger who got stuck sitting next to me on a plane, or at a concert.
I recently hit my weight goal of 180 pounds. Before then I was trying to keep my calories around 1,500 per day. But now that I’ve hit my goal I want to start putting on more muscle, so I’ve increased my daily macros.
For exercise, I practice fasted cardio in the morning before the gym, and cardio after dinner. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I train chest, shoulders and triceps. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday I train back and biceps. I train legs two days a week. Sunday I rest.
Portion control is an important habit. I can’t stress that enough. I like to fill up on salad, eat healthy fats over unhealthy fats. And I watch my sugar intake.
I want to see how far I can take body building. I know I probably won’t ever look like the guys on the cover of fitness magazines, but I want to get into the best shape I can. I’m more motivated than ever.
The scale has become my worst enemy. Before I eat something, I think about what the scale is going to read the next day. For a long time I was stepping on the scale every day. I wouldn’t recommend doing this. Weigh yourself once a week around the same time every week. Don’t let the scale run your life.
I know it sounds cliché, but don’t give up and don’t get discouraged. Try to find a way to make it enjoyable. If you have a significant other, ask them to go on a diet with you. It’s not easy. This has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life, but it has also been one of the most rewarding things as well. I’ve learned so much about myself since I started this journey, and my willpower is much stronger than I ever knew.
Need more inspiration? Read about our other wellness winners!
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