Jason’s Journey: Overweight and Overcoming It!

Posted by Jason Newsom on June 7, 2019
CHAPTER 1: The 5 Do’s of My Diet – June 20, 2019

Ideas for a title for the series:

Thriving…Not Just Surviving

I’m Absolutely Losing It

Werking It & Working Out (my favorite)

I have never had a super healthy relationship with food. I say never, and I pretty much mean never. I have definitely gotten better over the years, but the 10 year old Jason inside would eat spicy chicken sandwiches and fries for every meal if he could. Who else LOVES a spicy chicken sandwich? It is my kryptonite for sure!

Today was the official start of my “diet”. I don’t know how I feel about this particular word. Everyone has a diet. Animals have diets. To me, it is all about what we were meant to put in our bodies. You don’t see processed foods listed under the diet for any creature on this earth…except for us. So, yeah I’m on a diet. We all are. What matters is how you define it. So, that was my goal heading into these 12 weeks; I want to define what a healthy diet looks like for me. We all have different schedules, different palates and different ideas of what works for us. What works for me may not work for you. But either way, I am excited to share as I learn what works for me and what…doesn’t.

Yesterday, I did the unthinkable. I met with a dietician. AHHHHHHH (people run around screaming). No, in all seriousness, it was absolutely incredible. We talked at length about my journey to finding a healthy way of living, eating, and thinking. I’m going to do my best to break it down for you.

Here are the things I am going to do:

  1. Eat Breakfast -> My goal is to eat it every day before 10 am. There are MANY days that I have just skipped breakfast all together. When I was losing weight, it was when I was being sure to drink a huge glass of water and then eat breakfast first thing in the morning.
  2. Cook Dinner -> My goal is to eat a home cooked dinner at least 4x a week. I don’t know about you, but I have been extremely busy for the past…I don’t know…13 years. If you are like me, and you have a million things on your plate, one of them should be a home cooked dinner. When you don’t plan out time for this, you will end up stopping through Wendy’s and ordering that spicy chicken sandwich we talked about. NOT TODAY! Put your drive-thru coupons down and pick up your scheduler. Block off time to cook. Do it right meow.
  3. Avoid Dairy -> My goal is to stay away from dairy as much as possible. I don’t know if I have ever been tested for lactose intolerance, but I can tell you right now…I have it. Now, it’s not severe and lord help anyone who gets between me and a block of white cheddar, but I know that my body does not like it. My theory is that I will start to feel better, in general, if I cut dairy out of my diet all together. Not forever…but for these 12 weeks. Cheese and I are breaking up. IF you see me with him giggling and holding hands, slap me back to reality.
  4. Avoid Added Sugars -> My goal is to break my sugar addiction…cold turkey. I can honestly say that my body is addicted to sugar. I crave it more than anything else. My inner sugar fiend does everything it can to trick me into partaking. Like I have actually convinced myself, on occasion, that it is good for me to have sugar on a semi-regular basis. Now, I am not one of those people who can have just a little bit of something as a treat and then put the package, pint, box, tray, etc down. The only way for me to break this horrible habit is to just stop…for now. So, again, if you see me hanging out with Sugar in my car, at the movies, or on a fancy dinner date…IN-TER-VENE. There might be some Stockholm syndrome going on. Send help.
  5. Drink Water Like It’s Going Out Of Style -> Some people don’t even like soda…good for you. No, seriously, good for you! It is probably the leading cause of obesity in America. They are typically pumped full of our nemesis…Sugar. This, again, is something that I crave. But, I am coherent enough to step away at this time. I am replacing my occasional soda with an occasional sparkling water. I have a case of Lime Bubly sitting at my desk. But, mostly, I’ll be drinking good ole fashioned water. First thing I do when I wake up? Drink a big glass of water. First thing I do when I get to work? Drink a big glass of water? First thing I do before I eat any meal? Drink a big glass of water. My glass is so big at work, it is technically a vase. I’m not kidding. Someone sent me flowers, they died, and now I drink out of their home. No joke.

So, there you have it. This really is the most explicit my “diet” gets. No calorie counting. No fear mongering. No reason to be afraid. Now, these are my 5 things. You can use one of all of them if you like. But, I want you to figure out what your 5 things are. Remember, everyone’s diet is different. Everyone’s eating schedule is different. I don’t believe there is any right way to eat other than being mindful about what you are putting in your body, how much, and when. So, figure out your 5 things. Write them down, right now. Start them tomorrow. They shouldn’t be anything that is going to completely throw you into a tizzy. They should actually enhance your day and make you feel good about yourself. Cuz, if you aren’t feeling good, then why are you doing it? Think about it.”

#1 The Journey Begins – May 31, 2019

My name is Jason Newsom and I have been overweight my entire life. Well, I guess it hasn’t been my entire life. Can you be overweight as a fetus? But, in all seriousness, I have been struggling with my weight since about the 2nd grade. I don’t remember what it feels like to be comfortable being shirtless in public or in private. I don’t remember what is like to not have stretch marks. I don’t remember what it is like to have a healthy relationship with food. I simply don’t remember. As I said, I have been overweight for over 75% of my life. Wow, that is a startling statistic.

Growing up, I didn’t have those parents that would enforce a lifestyle filled with healthy eating and being active. I was content with eating fast food and watching movies whenever I could. I lived my life vicariously through the characters on screen. It wasn’t until I reached middle school that I started to be bullied for my weight…relentlessly. I would come home every single day in tears. My parents wanted to pull me out and home-school me, but I refused to let them. I knew that this was something that I needed to overcome. It was around this time that I started using comedy and self-deprecation to win over the bullies and distract them (and myself) from the fact that I was overweight and that I was gay. One good thing that came from this is that I found my love of making people laugh, though, often it was at the expense of using myself and my body as fodder.

Cut to college. I found my tribe or people who accepted me just the way I am. I went to a small liberal arts college and got my Bachelors of Fine Arts in Acting. It was here that I had my first experiences working out at a gym. The school gym was small and usually very packed. I never truly felt comfortable working out in front of my peers as I feared what was behind the looks that they would give me when I would lift my arms and my belly would be showing, or when I bent over and I could feel the breeze at the top of my behind. Needless to say, my tenure at the gym was not long at all and it would be several years before I would return with any sort of consistency.

Let’s fast forward to the fall of 2015. I was having severe back pain that was shooting down my right leg and I couldn’t stand up straight. By the time I was finally granted an MRI, I was rushed into emergency surgery as one of my discs was putting pressure on my sciatic nerve as well as the nerve that controls my bladder. After the surgery, the recovery process was fairly painless and I was back to my usual self in not time. The surgeon urged me to lose weight so that the back issues will not return. The following year, almost to the day, I had my second surgery on my spine. I hadn’t lost any weight. In fact, I had gained. This surgeon was much more insistent that I lose weight. By the beginning of 2018, I weighed nearly 400 lbs. Actually, 395 lbs to be exact. It was the largest I have ever been, the most unhappy I have ever been, and it was time to make change. It was now or never.

Over the past year and half I have been able to successfully lose 60 of those pounds and keep it off. It was definitely not easy, but it was more rewarding than I ever thought it would be. I am currently weighing in around 335 lbs and have been for the past few months. I have plateaued. Just being more active and eating better (some of the time) is just not cutting it anymore and the future of my spinal health is still hanging in the balance. I have to keep going. I have to keep pushing. I have to keep believing that I can do this. I have already proved that I can…so what have I been waiting for?

I started working here at the JCC in the fall of 2018 as their Scholarship Administrator. For the first time (in my life) I truly feel that I have found a workplace that has a truly accepting environment. I have found my home. What a gift it is to work here. I have access to everything I need to be successful in my journey to a healthier and happier me. So, enough talking about it. It’s time to start moving forward. Forward motion is so important to a healthy existence. It does you no good to continuously look behind you and focus on the past. So, here we go. Let’s move forward together.

Over the next 12 weeks, I will be continuing my journey with the help of the JCC. I will be working out with a personal trainer for a couple of days a week. On the days that I am not working out, I will be taking part in the amazing fitness classes they have to offer. For the first time in my life, I will be consistently exercising 5 days a week. Wow, it sounds so daunting when I say that. But I know, from experience, that getting started and committing is the absolute hardest part. Once you have committed, the rest is just routine.

I will be sharing my journey with you throughout the entire process. You will get to see me sweating. You will get to see me struggling. You will get to see me wanting to give up. But the most important thing you will see over the next 12 weeks is that you will get to see me overcoming. You will get to see me getting out of my own way. You will get to see me believing in myself.

Let’s do this together. Let’s make the commitment to let the past and the future go. Don’t worry about what you didn’t do or haven’t done yet. Let’s use these next 12 weeks to focus on what we can do right now!”

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