Today, I want you to meet Josh and Leah (that’s them before their transformation)
Josh has dropped over 100 pounds in the past six months; and Leah has dropped 60 pounds over the past eighteen months!
This killer boyfriend-girlfriend tag team are raising a beautiful 18-month old daughter, working (Josh) and going to school full-time (Leah), and have found time to radically transform their lives (Optimus Prime-style).
I had to interview Josh – I love hearing success stories from couples that have decided to improve their lives together.
Hopefully you can relate and learn a few things from this power couple.
Steve: Describe the old you – what was a typical day like?
Josh: The old me was a hot mess. My breakfasts consisted of sugary coffee drinks and pastries or bagels. Fast food was a staple and soda was my water. My snacks were chips and candy bars. I never watched what I consumed. I would eat for no reason, when I was happy, sad, and mad. Food was my crutch.
I was also extremely lazy and unmotivated. It wasn’t a rare thing for me to waste an entire night after work watching TV or playing video games (while snacking on ice cream and soda). My daughter was an infant and not yet mobile, so in my mind it justified my laziness since we were all spending time together..
Steve: Was there a specific moment when you decided to make a change? What inspired you to get started?
Josh: You mean other than starting to sweat when I bent over to tie my shoe? I really think watching my daughter grow into a toddler it really kind of hit me. Watching her become mobile and realizing I’m too damn fat to keep up with a 1 year old really made me put things in perspective. If I can’t manage my own weight, how am I going to raise her any differently? I definitely didn’t want her growing up overweight and unhealthy like so many kids out there. I wanted to break the cycle. I wanted to give my children the father they deserve.
Steve: What’s a typical day like now?
A typical day now is full of healthy meals and being active start to finish. 98% of my meals are prepared at home. I wake up early enough to take in a healthy breakfast before work. I still drink coffee but I drink it black – no cream or sugar. My lunch is usually left over from the night before. Snacking at work involves raw almonds or celery sticks. I eat to fuel my body, not just out of boredom. I listen to my body and eat when I am hungry and stop eating when I’m full. I walk on my two 15 minute work breaks or lunch, squeeze in a few push up sets during the day, then hit the gym for a hard workout after work.
Steve: What has been your workout strategy?
We joined our gym on April 20, 2012. I was given a free personal training session and decided that I was going to hold myself responsible financially for my health. I spent $600 for two months of personal training. I knew that if I failed I would have lost a lot of money.
But after a couple of sessions with my amazing trainer, I was seeing results in my strength and overall fitness level. I was doing things I thought were impossible within just a couple weeks. I lost about 35 lbs in those two months.
When I first started we worked out with a lot of light kettle bells and medicine balls, improving mobility. I did squats and lunges til I was blue in the face. I have never really been one for the treadmill, but I found that walking hills didn’t hurt my knees and it melted the calories. Each time I hit the gym it was with extreme focus and intensity like it was my job to get in shape; I tried to improve every workout. I wanted to making sure I left with my shirt soaked 100% every workout. My goal was to finish every rep I set out to do. No matter how long it took, just finish.
Today I do a 5×5 Olympic lift work out four days a week. My favorite being deadlifts. I try to do full body work outs not just focusing on individual muscle groups. I love kettlebell training. Kettlebell swings are a great way to wake up. I play basketball and walk hills for my cardio days. Or go on walks with my family.
Steve: What’s been your diet strategy? Healthy eating? Paleo?
At the start we both gave up soda and sugary coffee and went with the low fat, whole grain yadda yadda. We still ate bread, dairy and fast food on occasion (Subway mostly). In about a two month period I went from 330lbs to 280lbs. Not bad, but then my trainer introduced me to the Paleo Diet. After reading a few books and finding your paleo article I wanted to try it.
In just over a month I went from 280lbs to 250lbs, and haven’t looked back since.
Anytime I have deviated from this healthy eating my body instantly feels off. Since we have started eating paleo I have had a few friends, as well as my Mom, start eating this way as well.
My girlfriend has been the key to my success with the diet though. Leah has been so great at researching and finding ways to make foods we enjoy. And I have also started cooking more and its becoming something we do as a family. If you’re ever in Washington feel free to stop by for some of my amazing paleo chili!!
Steve: Sounds delicious, will definitely let you know when I’m in Washington! What was the toughest change for you to make?
Giving up bread and sweets was by far the hardest for me. My mother and grandmother are both incredible bakers. It’s hard visiting them sometimes due to the abundance of treats they have around. It’s better now that my mom has started eating paleo, but it’s still hard to say no to a homemade cookie from grandma. I’ve learned to curve my sweet tooth with apples and almond butter or Extra’s desert gum – it’s good stuff.
Steve: How did you track your progress? How often did you weigh yourself? Did you take any other measurements?
To be honest, I have weighed myself every day since the start of my journey. Not obsessively, but mostly for motivation. I weigh in every morning at 4:30 am before I’ve eaten. It helps me focus and keeps me accountable for my good and bad choices for the day. But since I started paleo, it has kind of been a game: I will go 2 or 3 days and not budge a pound, then wake up to an 8lb loss. I did measurements but was never consistent, same with pictures. My best way of tracking progress though was through my clothing. I would purposely buy a t-shirt that was a size too small in order to have a goal to work toward. It kept me focused and was a great way to reward progress.
Steve: Most important change you made that helped you succeed?
The biggest change is consistency with my diet and exercise. Not giving up when I hit that plateau. I reminded myself to keep pushing when I think I’m tired. There have been so many days where I was mentally exhausted, and I wanted nothing more than to go veg out with some Playstation, but chose to go to the gym instead. Once I was there it was game time: 100% focus. All it took was getting there. Before I would have made an excuse as to why I can’t work out today or why I should eat pizza for dinner. I’ve pushed myself past the point of excuses and look forward to my new way of life.
Steve: From what you’ve told me, your girlfriend Leah also lost a tremendous amount of weight along with you. Can you tell me more your story together?
We have been friends for about 8 years, and been a couple for almost 3 years. She is a full time student and an amazing mother to our 15-month old daughter. I was about 275lbs when we started dating and she was about 180lbs. We both put on quite a bit of extra weight when she got pregnant with our daughter.
Our nights consisted of fast food and reruns on Netflix.
Steve: Did you decide to lose weight together? Did you get started and she followed? Or did she start and you followed?
I may have planted the seed to join a gym, but she was 100% on board and ready. She has been just as dedicated as I have since the beginning, both with diet and exercise. She motivates me to work out even on days where I am not feeling it. She’s pretty much the best.
She has gone from 225lbs after the birth of our daughter to 165lbs.
She has transformed herself into a distance runner and is working toward doing some obstacle races in the near future.
And she also has earned a legit set of guns that she shows off on the regular. She definitely is a huge inspiration to me.
Steve: Have you tried and failed to get healthy before in the past? What made this time different?
I would always join a gym, work out for a few months, lose 30 lbs or so, then fall right back into my old ways. I was full of excuses and never really had a “real” reason to be healthy. I had always been the fat kid growing up, so I just kind of played the roll. I never changed my diet, not really. It was more about the exercise, so I never got the results I really wanted. This time I held myself accountable. And once I started really seeing the changes in my body from the diet health and fitness just became a passion. I don’t look at the gym as a place I HAVE to go to. I have realized I am in full control of my actions and I choose to go.
Steve: What would you tell somebody in your situation right now to help them? Somebody who’s tried and failed but ready to try again?
It’s not too late to start today. You don’t need to wait for tomorrow or new years. Go take a 10 minute walk once a day for the next week. Stop drinking soda, do SOMETHING to progress toward your goals. If you fall off your diet for a day, GET OVER IT and keep moving forward. Eating one bad meal won’t derail you, eating a week’s worth because you were to busy sulking over your mistakes to focus and get back on track will. You are worth the effort. No matter how down in the dumps you feel right now, it will only get better if you put forth the effort and stop making excuses, and focus on getting it done.
Steve: You’ve lost all of this weight…What’s the next goal for you?
My city has a few very large athletic events that I have decided to participate in this year. One being Bloomsday, a street race with over 50,000 participants. I am also extremely excited for a 3 on 3 basketball tournament called Hoopfest (world’s largest 3 on 3). I have a very strong team this year and look forward to competing at a high level. I am also going to be doing the Run For Your Lives race at the end of summer 2013. Who doesn’t want to be chased by Zombies, right?
Steve: What are you excited to do now that you weren’t physically able to do before? Any activities in particular?
Pull ups! I can finally do a pull up. I had NEVER been able to do one until recently. I also just did my first one-handed wall hand stand. And I’m becoming pretty proficient on the basketball court again. It feels great to be able to keep up with kids 10 years younger than me. And I now that my knees aren’t killing me, I think the lady and I are going to give snowboarding a try this year. Can’t wait to actually enjoy our snow!!!
Steve: Your physical appearance has changed…what else has changed about you?
My confidence is probably the biggest change. I look people in the eye now and will be the first to say hello. Before I would look down, or play with my phone to avoid eye contact. I didn’t want to be looked at or noticed. I was embarrassed of who I was. My health is 100% better since the weight loss as well. I’m off my anti-depressant medicine. I no longer have nagging feet, back, and knee pain. No more heart burn – it’s night and day.
Steve: Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?
I’m keeping it old school and going with Star Wars (original 3 only though).
Steve: Favorite video game of all time?
It’s a toss up between Metal Gear Series and Uncharted series. I spent so many hours on both, it’s ridiculous. Assassins Creed 3 may steal the top spot soon enough though.
Steve: If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be, and why?
Mystique, one of the villains from the X-men that was a badass. Being able to shift shapes and bodies would make you almost unstoppable if you knew how to use it correctly. And I’m sure I could find all sorts of ways to cause trouble.
Steve: Tell us something interesting about you!
One of my favorite all time movies is “Masters of the Universe,” where Dolph Lundgren played a mean He-Man. When I was young I use to wear my underoos backwards and ran around with my fake sword yelling, “I HAVE THE POWER.” Ya I’m pretty awesome. Nerd since 82’.
Why Josh and Leah were successful
They had a damn good reason – Josh and Leah had the best reason of all to get healthy – their daughter! Josh said, “If I can’t manage my own weight, how am I going to raise her any differently? I definitely didn’t want her growing up overweight and unhealthy like so many kids out there. I wanted to break the cycle.” When times got tough, the morning came too soon, or they just didn’t feel like exercising, Josh and Leah thought about their kid and realized it was up to them to become great role models. They wanted their daughter to grow up healthy too.
You might not have kids, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have a great reason to get healthy. Maybe you’re doing it to prove to yourself that you can change for the better. Maybe it’s because you want to get back out there and start dating again. Maybe it’s just so you can look in the mirror with pride. WHATEVER your reason is, keep it at the front of your mind.
They cleaned up their diet! I say this seemingly every five minutes on Nerd Fitness, but DIET is 80 – 90 percent of your success or failure. Josh followed the typical path of “just eating less” and had success with it. However, after hitting a plateau, he was introduced to the Paleo Diet and has had tremendous success since making a switch.
You don’t need to go full Paleo to get results (though it will give you a great chance of reaching your weight loss goal). However, you do need to put serious thought into how you fuel your body. If you’re not seeing results, your diet should be the FIRST place you look.
They worked together – Josh and Leah WORKED together to succeed. They kept each other accountable. They rooted for each other. They picked the other up on a bad day. They worked as a team. They cooked and ate together. Not surprisingly, when they both worked to help each other live better lives instead of enabling each other to slack, they had TREMENDOUS success.
Do you have somebody that you can train with? Can you get your significant other interested in getting healthy with you? How about a friend or co-worker to check in with daily to keep you accountable?
They invested in themselves – Josh and Leah signed up for personal trainer classes at their gym. They had to make a few sacrifices in order to justify the purchase. HOWEVER, when comparing the cost of a few months of a trainer against a lifetime of healthy living and increased confidence, it was clearly money well spent. When you’ve prepaid for two months of lessons, you better get your butt to the gym or you’re just throwing money away, right?
Make an investment in yourself.
They took pictures – Josh weighed himself every day to make sure he stayed on track, but he and Leah also took pictures to make sure they were losing the RIGHT kind of weight. Just like Joe, they made sure they lost fat and got stronger with strength training and clean eating.
If you haven’t taken a progress photo yet, what are you waiting for? Go take a picture right now! Go! Please, I’ll wait.
Take another photo thirty days from now, and compare the two. If you are heading in the right direction, you’ll see changes in the right places. If you DON’T see the right kind of changes, then it’s time to make some adjustments. The scale can lie, so don’t be afraid to take other types of measurements as well.
Questions for the young couple?
Do you have any questions for our young, ridiculously good looking parents?
Please leave a comment/question and Josh and Leah can swing by the comments and answer them!