How I motivated myself to lose almost 100 pounds. Well, also how I got to the point of having 100 pounds to lose.

It’s 3:40AM on January 4th, 2019, and I was just looking through some of my old photos in my hard drive before I sleep (Yeah, night owl here).

I suddenly stumbled upon some photos I took while I was on my way to losing weight over two years ago.

It has been over a year and I am still absolutely shocked by the changes I have made to my life that has had so much positive impact on my life I cannot ever explain completely in words.

Left — 2014 / Right — Summer 2018

This is a very (very) emotional subject matter for me, but in a (also very) good way. And seeing those photos again has motivated me to dig up my Medium account and write an article about it. And I plan to write more about other things!

So how did this all start?

2008 — HAPPY BOY BACK THEN

I moved to the United States from China at the age of eight.

Lived with my mother and moved around a lot with several years while my father was still back in China.

Because my mother was working almost every day, my diet was not consistent and I often over-ate.

I lived in Brooklyn, New York, for a year as a fifth grader. And during that time, I was caught in the influence of American music. Specifically:

Hip-Hop.

Because my mother was always working, I often went to the local library after school. One day, one of the kids there was watching a video of people dancing and singing, and being slightly inappropriate.

It was Chris Brown’s new hit single: Kiss Kiss, which came out Fall that year. 2007.

I was immediately hooked to the video and to the song. And it was because of this song, that I began to fall in love with Hip-Hop and R&B music in general.

So why is the relevant? Well, Hip-Hop music was what got me through some of the hardest times of my life. Whether it was a happy song, a deep and meaningful song, or a depressing song, the music either gave me more confidence or it made me forget about some of the issues I had to deal with.

The biggest issue was not my weight. It was much bigger (ahaha..) than that.

“Will I be carrying this excess baggage forever?”

As Hip-Hop music influenced my life more and more as an adolescent, it also inspired me to test my artistic chops in musical theater and musical performance from middle school to now.

Beauty and the Beast. Me as the Beast/Prince in my middle school play.

But as I put myself more and more out there, I quickly realized something:

Being massively overweight at about 280 pounds at the time, things were getting in the way.

Not literally, but…

I was definitely conscious of how people perceived me, and even when I wasn’t, I subconsciously was worried about people’s perception of me.

This caused me to sweat excessively, especially during musical performance in high school.

My high school career was doing great, but I fully (absolutely fully) realized that this weight was stopping me from pushing myself even more.

  • Auditioning for a solo or a character in a musical, worrying about how people looked at me, and how that affected my performance.’
  • Worrying about how my existing friends perceived me as a friend, especially when we played basketball or ran. (you know what I’m talking about, Dani J.)
  • And sometimes feeling anxious about how my weight would impact my future career and life in general.

But as high school went on, my weight stabilized to around 270 to 275lbs, and I just kind of embraced it. Because just like Rick Ross said in his verse on Kanye West’s “Devil in a New Dress”.

“Cherry red chariot, excess is just my character.”

But even Rick Ross eventually lost over 100lbs, so why couldn’t I do it?

ROZAY!

Well, I didn’t see it as a number one priority, to be honest.

  • I was too busy with school and family issues.
  • When I was not busy, I was just….still too busy.
  • And when I tried losing weight, I always failed because I had no plan.Like that one time where my high school friend, John, jogged with me around the park outside of school for about two weeks. Then I gave up because jogging alone was not the solution.
Me with a professor at the University of Pennsylvania in 2015.

But, it should be a priority because why? None of my academic and career achievements won’t matter if my health is screwed up.

And the issues that haunted me as an adolescent would just continue into my adulthood and get worse.

I also wore slightly baggy clothes to not seem so overweight.

It’s like applying a bandage to a gun wound.

Hindsight is 20/20, but my foresight suddenly became (almost) 20/20.

But on October 27th, 2016, something happened. I don’t remember what exactly, but maybe it was an article I read about losing weight the right way that finally clicked with me.

Losing weight, or should I say, becoming healthier is a mindset, and not short-term.

I said to myself: “If I wanted to do this right, I can’t get on a different diet, because this implies that I will get off of that diet eventually.”

I needed to have patience to make this last because it’s not going to happen in a day, a week, or a month.

Here we go.

So I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app on my phone, bought a food scale on Amazon.com, and told myself to eat no fast food.

Fast food was fine, but I knew that if I ordered a large pizza, I would eat the whole thing, and then regret it 30 minutes later.

Other than that, I ate the same food as I did before, lean meat, vegetables, and fruit. Just A LOT less than I used to.

I ate about 3000–3500 calories (sometimes more) per day without exercise, but I had to cut down to about 1800–2000 calories.

Thank you, Couch to 5K!

I also incorporated jogging three times a week along with my diet immediately.

About three months in, I lost about 25lbs!

From 274lbs down to about 250lbs and more as each day went on.

But my friends encouraged me to go to the gym to lift weight because I would lose more and more muscle if I did not combat that with some strength exercises.

Knowing that I am not a person to easily give up, I added three to four days of weightlifting at the gym along with my caloric deficit and three-times-a-day jogging.

Jogging and weightlifting were two of the most difficult things I have done in my life. In the beginning, I was out of breath after just a minute of jogging, and the bar on the bench press was difficult for me.

But again, Hip-Hop music, along with emotional support from my mother and father, the latter of which moved to the US with us in 2015, got my back.

“Life ain’t picture perfect, we use the negatives to develop”

Lord Willin’, Logic (The Incredible True Story)

My form was horrible at the gym for many of the exercises, and literally everyone at the gym was stronger than me. That got to me at times because like I previously said, I worried about how others perceived me.

But I somehow began to not care about that anymore.

Let me repeat that again:

I began to stop caring so much about how other people perceived me.

I put my headphones on and went into my zone. I recorded videos of me working out to make sure that my form improved, and with patience came progress!

In August 2017, I reached 180lbs (94lb weight loss from 274lbs!). After that, I starting eating more calories and tried to focus on gaining more strength at the gym.

June 2018

But like I said earlier, this is much bigger than a number on the scale or even how I look.

It’s that my mindset has completely changed. I became more patient with a lot of things in life, and focused on myself, rather than worrying so much about what others thought of me.

This has not only brought me success in my weight loss journey, but also triumphs in my academics and career prospects. I will talk about this in a separate article!

Anyway, you’ve reached the end of this article, but definitely not the end of my story. I’ll post more in the future!

Summer 2018 — STILL A HAPPY BOY :)