How One Man Got Off the Diet Roller Coaster and Into the Best Shape of His Life
Michael Galinkin, 51, of Charlotte, NC had struggled with his weight throughout his life. He fought a constant up-and-down battle with the scale, armed with fad diets and unsustainable eating that would eventually cause his weight to bounce higher than it had been at the start of each diet. Over the years, he found himself stuck in this seemingly never-ending pattern that became a physical, mental, and emotional roller coaster. He also found himself being prescribed more and more medications to help control health issues that were often rooted in the fact that he carried excess weight.
But it wasn’t until the life-and-death reality of the pandemic hit that he realized the severe impact his unhealthy weight could have on him.
“When COVID-19 started, I saw that the average person with obesity suffered immensely or passed away because of it,” Michael recalls. “It made me reflect on my life and I decided that I couldn’t continue going down that path.”
Michael thought back to when he was in the best shape of his life: 25 years old, 154 pounds, and dressed to the nines to marry his bride on their wedding day. He had hoped to get himself back to that form by his 50th birthday in April of 2020, but the pandemic threw a wrench in that plan. However, he was determined to not let the dreaded COVID “19” pounds of weight gain stop him from reaching his health goal while he was still 50 years old.
The Freedom In ‘Food as Fuel’
At 225 pounds, Michael decided that it was finally time to find a sustainable way to lose — and keep off — the weight, so he began his journey toward healthier living by setting a goal to lose 50 pounds. But, in order to do that, Michael realized that he needed a program with a little more structure and professional guidance than the fad diets that had previously failed him, so he turned to the medically supervised program Medi-Weightloss. He was given a list with different categories of foods so that he could build his own well-balanced menu filled with healthy foods he actually enjoys. While it gave him the freedom to build a very diversified menu, he actually decided to go the self-proclaimed “boring” route and create a menu where he ate generally the same things each day.
“My whole life, I’ve centered every day on food. What’s going to be for lunch? What’s going to be for dinner? What’s going to be for breakfast?” he recalls. “My life was always about food. I wanted something that was repeatable and sustainable for me.”
While this particular method may not work for everyone, Michael found comfort and reassurance in the routine and stuck with generally the same menu for six months, though he does admit it was a little difficult to adjust at first. But he also says it helped him build better nutritional habits and reframe his mindset that food should be used as fuel. In his particular case, he needed that consistency to pull his focus away from centering his life around food. (And it also made grocery shopping and meal prep really easy!)
Michael enjoys the Medi-Weightloss program because it holds him accountable, and his providers ensure that he’s making choices that are good for his health, rather than trying to drop pounds as fast as possible. He says that his providers even routinely check to make sure that he is not losing muscle as he loses weight.
However, one of the biggest bonuses that Michael found with his steady and predictable meal routine was that it has freed up his mind and his time to find other things in life to get excited about. During his prior dieting days, he notes that he’d go extreme when working out and then burn himself out quickly; it simply wasn’t a good approach to physical fitness for him in the long-term. This time around, he’s proud to say that he’s taken up a daily yoga practice as well as nighttime meditation to enhance both his physical and mental wellness. Especially with more time spent at home during COVID-19 lockdowns, he has relished in the opportunity to take a midday yoga break to keep himself centered.
“It’s helped me because it’s not hard or stressful,” he says of his newfound fitness routine. “It has a meditative quality to it, and I’ve found I’m more flexible than I thought I was — and only getting better.”
Michael’s simplified eating schedule has also granted him more time to focus on fulfilling projects that keep both his body and his mind busy, including gardening and renovating a recently acquired cabin.
Blasting Past the Plateau
One of the things that Michael found most surprising about his weight loss journey this time around was that he never hit a plateau along the way. In the past, he’d get down to 200 pounds and would always get stuck there. But this time, he says, he blew right through it. Despite that success, however, he realized that his true goal was not actually about the number on the scale. At 190 pounds, he noted that he still felt uncomfortable and very self-conscious, recalling all the times in the pool or the hot tub when he’d refuse to take off his shirt despite his impressive weight loss. Though he was happy with the progress he had made, he realized that focusing on the number on the scale wasn’t as important as focusing on how his weight loss made him feel.
“It was about feeling fit and getting to a place where I felt comfortable in my own skin, which had only been once or twice in my entire life,” he says.
Michael continued to put in the work from there, and when he reached his first goal of 175 pounds, he decided to finally try on the tuxedo he wore on his wedding day. It was an important milestone for him as it represented the fact that he was not taking this journey simply to lose weight, but to be happy and healthy for his family, too. And though he had impressively reached the goal weight he was aiming for, he was disappointed to find that his wedding day tuxedo still fit a little bit snug.
As Michael set his next goal, he made sure that it was more about how he felt and how his clothes fit, rather than chasing an ultimately arbitrary number on the scale. When he hit 160 pounds, however, he says that’s when he truly felt a difference in his body and in his overall health.
Through his hard work and dedication, Michael achieved a total weight loss of 68 pounds in about six months, and admits that he sometimes needs to do a double-take as he passes by a mirror just to make sure his newfound physique is real. At 156 pounds, he also fits perfectly into that tux again, and is quite possibly rocking it even more fashionably than he did on his wedding day! Michael is currently following a sustainable maintenance plan (and adding in more diverse foods) to keep that weight off going forward, and he’s proud to say that he has kept up with his daily yoga as well. He also notes that his employer is big on health initiatives, and he enjoys getting involved in company-wide step challenges and fitness classes that keep him motivated to stay fit.
“Feeling comfortable in my own body is amazing,” Michael says. “But what’s even better is that, during the diet, I was taken off all my blood pressure medications, CPAP [for sleep apnea], and cholesterol meds. For the first time in a long time, I actually feel healthy.”
As for others who are setting out on health and fitness journeys of their own, Michael’s biggest tips are to find a supportive program and, perhaps even more importantly, to ensure that you are supportive of yourself as well.
“If you make a mistake, forgive yourself and move forward,” he encourages. “If you have a cheat day or cheat night, don’t make it into a cheat weekend or cheat week. Cut it off and start the next day, forgive yourself, and keep going!”
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