Rising from the ashes-my personal journey to losing 65 pounds
by Zachary Selby
Each day, I go through the same routine. Every morning, I wake up to the same monotonous sound of my alarm going off at exactly 7 AM. I’ll get up from my bed that I swear quietly whispers to me, ‘come back and lie down for just a few more minutes.’ I ignore it and instead silently get dressed in a hoodie and sweat pants and make my way outside into the freezing cold. After a few minutes of stretching, I go for a run, one of three for the day.
Over the past five months I have lost 65 pounds. It’s a goal I had since this summer, but it was never fully realized until just recently.
It all started in September after we had just lost to Emory and Henry in week two of our football season. I went to my room, my mind still consumed in the loss, and stopped dead in my tracks and looked in the mirror. I saw myself, all 265 pounds of me, and realized something: I hated the way that I looked. I thought to myself, “What are you going to do when the season is over? Are you going to keep looking like this?” The beginning of my journey to lose weight didn’t exactly go like the great moments you see in the movies. I starting running and watching what I ate. I was losing weight, albeit very little. From September to November I lost 15 pounds, which is nothing to feel terrible about, but I could tell that I didn’t want it bad enough.
That all changed on Nov. 21 of last year. Life hit me with one devastating blow after the other. Football season was over, and being a senior, I was struggling with the reality of no longer being a part of a team. You have to adjust to the fact that the routine that you have gone through your entire life is no longer a part of your life. My mom had just gotten an eviction notice, and I was having issues with my family. I wasn’t doing particularly well in my classes, and it became apparent that I was going to lose some of my scholarships, and if that happened, I didn’t know where I was going to get the money to come back to school. And on top of that, I was hit a very serious bombshell that rocked me on psychological level that on that day nearly broke me. People that were close to me had let me down tremendously, and it felt like I had been pushed to my furthest edge.
I had hit rock bottom. I decided that night I was going let out all of my emotions through one big drunken episode. I bought a 24 pack of beer, a big bottle of rum, and just drank. I felt alone, helpless, and like I was destined to handle this whirlwind of problems by myself.
The rest of the night was blurry to say the least. I woke up in my bed around 6 in the morning and the first thing I said to myself was that I wasn’t going to let this beat me. I wasn’t going to let the events of my life keep me down, and dammit, I was going to be fat no more. There was a fire in me that would not be put out; I was hell bound to show everyone around me that I would be damned if I was going give up now.
I spent that weekend with my family. That Sunday, I came back to school and the first thing I did was I run. I ran until I couldn’t run anymore. I ended up running three miles that night, and it gave me an idea. I was going to run like this every day until I got to the desired weight that I wanted, which was about 200 pounds.
I’m not going to lie, that first day was hard. It seemed like every part of me wanted to give up before I even started. But then I remembered that fire that burned inside me, and I got angry. If someone were to watch me while I was running, they would see a pissed off look on my face. Being mad was the only way for me to keep going. I had to be determined and keep that constant reminder in my head that I was going to prove to the world that I was going to come out of this a better man. I would run a mile and a half at morning and noon and run three more at night. I was also getting to the point where I was doing about 300 push-ups and sit-ups a day. Eventually, I started feeling…good. It was a feeling that affected me on every level. I had new life in me and my confidence was on a level that it had never been before and I found myself happy for no reason at all.
My diet was immediately affected as well. The first thing that you see when you walk into Pearson’s is that damn burger line with fries and the pizza line. I don’t how I did it, but I would pass by those lines and go straight to the salad bar. I had never really eaten salad before, and for about ten minutes I just looked at that salad with an extreme distaste. The water that I had substituted for Cheerwine wasn’t exactly helping either. Eventually, I started adding things to my salads to make it taste better, but for every meal except breakfast, it was salad and water for me.
When finals were over, I weighed 230. In just two and a half weeks, I had lost 15 pounds. But now there was a new challenge, which was going home. Most of my family is overweight, and they don’t exactly eat the best things. Over Christmas break, I took my routine to a whole new level. I still ran, but I began to not just run but sprint for extended periods at a time. I also added more core work to my routine. Eventually I got to the point where I would do 600 push-ups and sit-ups a day, 640 Russian twists a day, and 500 leg lefts and bicycles a day. I kept to my diet as well, staying away from unhealthy foods and drinks except for one day a week—cheat day. On that day, I could finally get a burger and fries with ketchup and barbecue sauce. After going a whole week of eating nothing but salad, there was nothing more satisfying than biting into a cheeseburger. I couldn’t go overboard though because I didn’t want to regress in any way. Self-control, I learned, was the toughest obstacle on cheat day.
I didn’t look at the scale that much during the break, but I did notice a difference. I remember looking in the mirror every day and not recognizing the person looking back at me. I felt great; my confidence went up, along with every other aspect of my life. The things that happened in my life didn’t seem to matter anymore. I knew that eventually things were going to work themselves out. The culmination of all my work hit me when the final day of break came. I was a little nervous. I looked and saw that I was 206. I hadn’t gotten down to 200, but it didn’t matter. I had set a goal and essentially reached it. It was by far the proudest I had ever been of myself, and no one could take it away from me.
If I had to put a pretty bow on this story, it would come with a message: don’t ever let the events of your life dictate the outcome and your decisions. You have a choice; you can either choose to react or you can take charge of your life and say that today is your day. You have to want to be successful as bad as you want to breathe. All of the bad and external circumstances of my life didn’t matter. There was nothing on my mind except an extreme desire to change who I was. When you’re an athlete, it’s easy to figure out who the next opponent is; you watch film on them during the week, learn what they’re good and bad at and how to attack their weaknesses. But when all that is gone, there is no one in a different jersey. The opponent is life; you are the underdog, but you always have home field advantage. It will always beat you if you let it, and there is no way around it. The only way to win is by running straight at it.