Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What Got Me Off the Couch: Big Man Sas's Story

You might know Jason as Big Man Sas on Twitter. He’s married with three wonderful kids and an awesome wife, living in Washington state. He says, “I’ve struggled with my weight for most of my adult life and decided it was time to make a lifestyle change by running and eating right.” Check out Jason's blog at

It was a beautiful summer evening in the Northwest when I realized I was really out of shape. I mean all the signs were there, especially the reflection I saw in the mirror, but sometimes it takes one pivotal event that makes you realize what’s wrong.

I sat on my porch in my favorite chair, enjoying the fading light of the sun and the sounds of the trees blowing in the gentle wind. I have been here many nights before and many nights since. I have always liked being outside and connecting with nature, ever since I was a kid. I find it relaxing and peaceful, an escape from the stress of the day.

This night would prove not to be one of those evenings.

As I sat, lost in a book I was reading, I felt a subtle shift in my chair. Nothing major, just a small movement that could have been just me adjusting my position. I checked the chair best I could, stretching as best I could to check the legs and connections. Seeing nothing, I leapt back into my book without a care.

That’s when it happened. The front legs, stressed under my 316-pound body, gave way. They folded straight out and my once comfortable seat inclined, sliding me right out onto the porch. I sat there on my butt thinking, “I need to lose some weight.”

Not Always a Big Man

I wasn’t always a Big Man. In fact, growing up, I was really skinny. I played soccer and was active all the time -- riding bikes, playing with friends, normal kid stuff. It wasn’t till I went to college that I started to put on some weight. I wasn’t as active as I was before, but I really didn’t notice anything wrong, just I was getting a little gut.

No big deal! I played soccer still, I was active in an improv group, and I could still buy my clothes from places like the Gap. I really wasn’t concerned with it.

I really never thought about my weight till I ran into an old high school friend. I was working at a restaurant and he came in one day. We caught up on what we had been doing for the last few years, just like we never missed a day.

He did leave me with one comment that got me to thinking: “You look a lot bigger.”

That started my dieting phase.

Yo-Yo Dieting

I knew I needed to lose weight and I wanted to do it fast. Everywhere I looked, there were plans promising to be the end-all of dieting, and I tried a bunch of them. All of them have their advantages, as you can lose weight fast, but it never lasted.

The biggest problem I had was restricting my diet so much. I would shed weight like it was no one’s business and I was committed. I tried Atkins, Weight Watchers, calorie counting -- and they all worked for a time. I even entered a biggest loser contest at my local gym and won! The issue was, after I lost the weight, I would stop dieting.

It was like I was rewarding myself for losing the weight by eating all the food I wanted. I thought if I could lose all this weight, I could take a break and just get back to it when I wanted to lose more. Basically start where I left off.

I was sabotaging my own plan!

This was the cycle I was stuck in for years. Lose weight, gain it back and more, and then lose weight again. Not a very healthy lifestyle.

Eventually, I decided there was no point in dieting. Every time I tried, I would just fail and gain all my weight back. So I stopped trying to lose weight for years and just ate what I wanted and sat on the couch watching TV and playing video games.

Big Man Lifestyle

Being a Big Man is tough. Things aren’t really made for your size, and it can be pretty embarrassing to try to fit into chairs and spaces that others have no issue doing.

Movie theaters, sports arenas and planes were not my friends. I was embarrassed to try to squeeze into a seat next to someone and have my fat roll over the armrest and into his or her seat. If I could take up two seats, it would make things a little easier.

Going to restaurants was a challenge also. I didn’t fit in booths and would always hope for a table. The problem was that most people like booths, and whenever I would go with a group, we would end up in one. Having my belly press up against the table was not only extremely uncomfortable, it was extremely embarrassing.

Unless I was alone, eating out was not fun. In fact, the drive-through became my best friend. I could get what I want and eat in peace, with no one there to judge me.

I ended up limiting myself to what I wanted to do based on my size. It was frustrating.

Time for a Change

It all came together when I slid off my porch chair that summer night. I realized I was heading for an early grave. My wife and kids were concerned about my health. I had no energy and no passion to do anything. I was tired all the time and depressed.

I had figured this was how the rest of my life was going to be and it was hard to accept. I had to do something.

So I decided to make a drastic change in my life. I decided to take up running!

I had never run before (except in school when we were required to), and had it never really interested me, but I had to do something. I looked at runners and how they appeared, and thought that is what I want, to be skinny and healthy.

I found a plan to get me off the couch and go from walking to running, and headed out the door, full of hope and promise. Things were going to be different this time.

The biggest change I made, and the one thing that keeps me going, is accountability. This accountability was not only to my family and friends, but also to the world. Before, if I failed, only a few close family members would know -- if any. That’s not so hard to get past. But having to explain myself to a bunch of people is not worth the effort to stop losing weight.

I started a blog and began chronicling each and every run on my journey. How I felt, how the runs went, how far -- everything.

I coupled that with eating less and eating right. I’ve always heard weight loss is 80 percent diet and 20 percent exercise, so I knew I had to make a change there (again). It is a simple calorie-tracking app I am using, going for sustained weight loss over time.

Consistent running and accountability have given me the motivation I need to remain on this path. Without them, I am positive I would have repeated the diet yo-yo and been worse off than before.

On the day I am writing this, I have lost 47 pounds!

I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

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