He called his wife, Irene, and said, “This is it. It changes right now.” When he returned home his wife and two daughters met him in the driveway, crying and hugging him. “It was like something straight out of a Hallmark movie,” he says.
His motivation lasted three days.
After a high-stress day at work, he bought a half gallon of ice cream on the way home. “I did what I had done my entire life. I turned to food. After that doctor’s visit and the emotional reunion declaring that it starts right now, three days later I was on the couch with the ice cream. Irene and the girls walked in and found me doing that and there were no words. They couldn’t believe it.”
Accountability is key
Anderson agonized for months and tried to figure out what he could do differently. He decided he needed a big measure of accountability and support. So, on September 15, 2008, he launched his blog, The Daily Diary of a Winning Loser. Every night, he shared his feelings and experiences in writing.
He set a daily budget of 1,500 calories and forbade “borrowing” from the next day (in hindsight he thinks he could have gone up to 1,900 calories and still have lost weight). Within that calorie limit, anything he wanted to eat was fair game. “In the beginning it was nothing for me to have Taco Bell or even McDonalds,” he says. “In fact, if I got to the end of the day with a few hundred calories left, just for the heck of it I would get a Snickers bar and then write in my blog, almost bragging, that I was losing weight and I had a Snickers bar.”
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Despite starting with a “nothing-is-off-limits” approach, he soon realized that if he tweaked his food choices he could be more satisfied with better-quality food. He started cooking more and eating less fast food, still sticking to his calorie budget.
The first step is the hardest
Anderson also started exercising. His first walk lasted less than five minutes, but in less than a month he was walking a mile. Eventually he joined the Y and expanded his cardio routine to elliptical workouts, treadmill walking and jogging, and playing racquetball by himself, against the wall.
His plan worked. After a year and a half he reached his goal weight of 230 pounds. His blog gained momentum. He wrote a book, Transformation Road, that chronicled his weight-loss success. He spoke publicly about his weight loss on the radio and for local hospitals. He still ate some refined sugar, but he maintained his goal weight for a year and a half.
The weight returns
And yet, things were not perfect. “There’s another whole side to this. It’s something that goes much deeper. One of the things I thought was that when I hit 230 my life was going to be amazing in every way, shape and form. I thought my career would be better and my marriage would be better. I hit 230 and I still wasn’t happy. It was such a huge letdown,” he says.
His marriage ended around the time he hit his goal weight, and, later, a tough breakup with a girlfriend sent him reaching for food for comfort again. He regained 164 pounds. He stopped writing his blog. He hated leaving home, since his weight gain was so noticeable and so many people in his community recognized him.