• Years of unhealthy eating habits caused David Myers’ weight to top out at more than 350 pounds.
• After experimenting with the keto diet and taking up running, in addition to other healthy habits, he’s now lost more than 130 pounds to date.
• Myers says his next goal is to run a 10K and eventually work his way under 200 pounds.
David Myers was tired of being tired all the time. He’d always been a bigger guy, though people told him he carried the weight well. “I would say I was fat and they would reassure me-I never thought I needed to change my ways at all,” he says. Myers, 27, who works as a high school math teacher in Turlock, California, says the low point-as is so often the case-arrived when Myers saw pictures of himself, and realized the truth about how much he’d let himself go. At the time, he weighed nearly 360 pounds, and it suddenly became clear that the time to start eating better and exercising was long overdue. “That was heartbreaking,” he says. “It was then that I decided to make changes.” Here’s how Myers got healthy.
You mentioned that you’d always been a bigger guy. What was the biggest contributor to your weight gain growing up?
When I was younger, my dad would be working all day and my mom would be doing things with her friends. Naturally, I would be playing games and eating. When I was about eight or nine I was placed into foster care, jumping around a bit before settling with a family. I’m Caucasian male who was placed with a Mexican family. The food was incredible and there were no restrictions for eating. Once I know something tastes good, I will not stop eating until it’s gone. That package of cookies? That bag of chips? I will continue to eat until there is no more, and that did not help with the weight gain.
Around age 15, my mom got a divorce and I just kept eating, and became even less active. Eventually, at age 16 and weighing around 270 pounds, I got a job at Taco Bell. From there, over the next few years I ballooned into the mid-300s. After a few years working there, I lost my job and my home. I went to live in the back of a thrift store that a friend owned. I would work in the store to cover rent, and was constantly eating liquor store frozen burritos, so that was not helping my nutrition at all.
Eventually, when I was on the cusp of 21, a friend of mine, Chester Moon, allowed me to live with him rent-free as long as I went back to school. I would say he’s the reason I am successful to this day career-wise. However, my diet was poor. I’d eat massive amounts of pasta and fried chicken. My later college years were my highest weight. Eventually, in my last two years of school, I began working on my weight.
What were some of the biggest challenges that your weight posed once you eclipsed 300 pounds?
I felt awful. Getting up stairs was a struggle, getting through day-to-day tasks was miserable. I wouldn’t want to move or get up. I’d just sit around. I was at my heaviest at 360 pounds-I was about 21-22, and I stayed at that weight for years. I always remember being tired. I couldn’t keep my eyes open when playing games anymore and I was constantly taking naps.
Take us through some of the changes that you made to get healthier. How’d you go from frozen burritos to a diet and exercise plan that you could stick with consistently?
Like most people, I believed weight loss started in the gym, so I began to incorporate walking a mile or so a day. I also tried taking advantage of the gym at my college. The biggest change was cutting out soda entirely: I haven’t had a soda in about six years-except for the one day a year I’m allowed to. It’s an agreement my wife and I have where the only time we can drink soda is easter weekend.) I would say that I tried and failed many different diets in my early twenties. I did manage to drop down to the 290s with small changes, but working out and eating right would always falter.
So what changed? What was your turning point?
The bulk of my weight loss happened in the last few years, after meeting my wife. It wasn’t anything she did or said, but until then I never really thought of a future and why it mattered. When we got together I was 290 pounds, and she was this gorgeous Latina woman who I couldn’t believe was interested in me. As we got to know each other, I realized more and more that life is worth living. Having had a troubled past, I was just coasting through it.
So I started watching a bit more what I ate. I cooked more at home to impress her. After we both moved in together about two years ago, we started really taking food seriously and counting all our calories. I started out eating 2000 calories a day, and as of today I’m down to about 1685. I track everything that goes into my body, and I measure and weigh it all.
While we were getting wedding ready in January 2017, I decided I wanted to run a 5k. She was a cross country girl and was used to long distances, so she helped keep me going. I signed up for a the Modesto Marathon 5k and began training using Aaptiv, which is like a personal trainer in your ear. I was mainly just running four or five times a week. I would incorporate weightlifting here and there, but mainly was just running.
Most people can’t stand the thought of running every day when they first start out on a new workout plan. How’d you manage to stay motivated?
Prior to the last year, I stayed away from running like it was the plague. I would lift weights at the gym and get routines from friends of mine. The thought of not being able to be active with my wife and future kids is what keeps me motivated. I want to be able to run around and play with them without being tired all the time. I see the progress my wife and I have made and I don’t want it to go to waste.
Did you experiment with any diets during the process?
In June of 2018, we decided to give keto a shot, and since then, I think my weight loss is primarily a result of the ketogenic diet. I’ve been doing keto for about a year now, and for the first time in my life, I hit my long term goal of weighing 220 pounds. Keto has been helpful to follow, but at the end of the day, it really comes down to a caloric restriction. I’ve now lost more than 140 pounds. It feels unreal to have lost so much weight.
I won’t lie: It’s only until recently that I started to notice my body and the changes I’ve made. I still have a ways to go, but I’m making a ton of progress. I feel incredibly proud of my accomplishments, and I never want to bounce back to what I was before.
What are some of the other positive side effects you’ve felt as a result of losing the weight?
I gained a massive amount of confidence.Thankfully, my wife loved me when I was a big ol’ tubby bear, and so now with the weight loss I know she’s in it for who I am, which is an amazing feeling. I do notice that people are more willing to take me seriously when I speak, too. Getting in and out of seats and going up stairs is a lot more comfortable. Just being able to move in general. My sleep quality has gone up, although I still wear a CPAP machine to bed.
What’s your end goal? Do you have a specific weight you’d like to hit?
The next goal is to get under 200 pounds. I’d love to try and get into the 180s-I want to see if I can push myself that far. I’m also scared of being in maintenance mode. Since so much of my life has now been about losing weight, I’m not sure how to just maintain. I also want to run a 10k-I fell in love with running and it’s such an incredible sport. I was just able to go out and do a 4 mile run without stopping, so I’m making progress.
What advice do you give to people who are just getting started and have a challenging road ahead?
First, buy a food scale-it’s what I tell everyone. Download MyFitnessPal, find out how many calories you can eat, and create a deficit. The process of losing weight is simple: Eat less than you burn and you will lose weight. It’s incredibly difficult in practice, but the process is simple.
Next, stop focusing so much on exercise: Yes, it will help, but it probably shouldn’t be your first step. Weight loss truly begins in the kitchen and it is the hardest part. It helps when you realize that 30-minute run equates to just one or two donuts, and you decide it’s not worth it.
Lastly, I would say, enjoy life. Do not be too hard on yourself, or you’ll fail. You will mess up. You will have bad days. But mistakes and failures make you grow. If you are staying consistent overall, you will lose the weight and keep it off. Focus on building a better lifestyle for yourself rather than lowering the scale.