300 Pounds and Counting: Greg's Two-Year Transformation

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Imagine carrying around three large Labrador dogs, nine cinderblocks or 36 gallons of water—constantly, for many, many years. Think about how difficult (or downright impossible) it would be to walk, run, play with your kids or grandkids, or even just climb a few stairs. Now, imagine finally being able to set down that weight, and how light and free you would feel.

Greg Palmer (GPALMER) knows a thing or two about shedding that type of heavy burden. In just a little over two years, he has lost more than 300 pounds. Since his amazing transformation, Greg has become a motivating presence here at SparkPeople, as he shares his inspiring messages and photos on our Community Feed.

Weight Loss the "Old-Fashioned Way"

A single man living in a small Georgia town, Greg was a technician at General Motors and owned a home on three acres. On paper, life was good—but as of January 2015, his weight had hit a dangerous high of 524 pounds, and he felt helpless and powerless to make a change.

At 46 years old, Greg struggled with sleep apnea, edema and back trouble. Too big for the shower, he was forced to wash off in the sink. When his stomach got stuck underneath the steering wheel of his truck, he knew his health, and his life, were in jeopardy. It was then that he quit his job to focus on losing weight.
"I used to see all the commercials, lose 20 pounds, lose 50 pounds…and I would think it would take me forever to lose that much," he says. With such a large amount to lose, it would have been easy for Greg to turn to weight loss surgery or fad diets. Instead, he opted for the "old fashioned" way: eating right and exercising.
At the beginning of his journey, Greg couldn't walk 50 feet without stopping. “I started by driving to the local Walmart, walking halfway in and then turning around and walking back out to my truck,” he says. “Every day, I would go up there and walk. Eventually, I would walk around the entire store three or four times, and became known as walking man of Walmart.” Today, Greg walks eight or nine miles every day. In one community post, he confessed to having somewhat of an obsession with his newfound activity: "I walk before breakfast, I walk while I eat my breakfast sandwich, I walk before lunch, I walk after lunch, before and after dinner! And as I'm typing this, guess what I'm doing: WALKING!"
For an extra fat-burning boost, Greg supplements his daily walks with strength training three times a week. One sample weight workout might include seven sets of 15 reps with dumbbells, five sets of 15 reps of lat pulldowns, five sets of 15 reps of triceps extensions and five sets of 15 reps of front chest pulldowns.

Meanwhile, Greg's diet underwent a complete overhaul. He cut out all simple sugars, eating primarily protein and healthy fats, limiting his carbs to 50 grams per day and drinking only water. To kick-start the weight loss process, he stuck to 1,500-1,800 calories per day and burned around 3,000.
For breakfast, Greg often eats a chicken sandwich on wheat bread or Cheerios with two-percent milk and a cup of peaches. Lunch is often a salad with baked chicken and low-fat ranch dressing. Dinner might be baked fish, chicken or pork chops with steamed veggies and cashews. Some of Greg's healthy snack choices include celery and hummus, fruit, almonds, low-sugar peanut butter or a protein bar. Some of his “taboo foods” include pizza, tacos and all fast foods. “If you have to drive through to get it, I don't eat it,” he says.

A Whole New Life

After 2-1/2 years of hard work, Greg had gone from 524 pounds to 220 pounds. His 64-inch waist was down to 36 inches—over two feet of circumference.
The first thing Greg noticed was his soaring energy levels. Suddenly, he was able to do all the things that had seemed impossible before, like doing yard work and cutting the grass with a push mower. His sleep problems and back pain disappeared. And when he climbed into his truck, there were a whole two feet between his stomach and the steering wheel. Instead of shopping at specialty shops and paying outrageous prices, Greg can buy his clothes at “normal” stores and fits in practically everything.
That said, Greg does have an underlying worry about whether he’s exercising enough to counteract his calorie intake. In a way, his old obsession with food has been transferred to exercise and weights.


Greg's Top 9 Tips for Losing 100+ Pounds

  1. Pay close attention to portions. In Greg's motivating posts, he often sings the praises of portion control as perhaps the most important element of successful weight loss. "If you eat too much of anything, you won't lose," he says. "Have a piece of candy or an individual snack cake every now and then, just don't eat the whole box or bag." Not sure what constitutes a portion? Check our Portion Distortion Guide.
  2. Eat what fuels you. After losing 300 pounds, one of Greg's most surprising discoveries was that food simply wasn't that important anymore. He now lives by the motto eat to live, don't live to eat. "I know junk tastes good, but after you eat and you're full, does it really matter what it was?"
  3. Find a support system. Greg has leveraged SparkPeople as a way to keep him accountable for his food intake and activity. "Everyone has been very supportive, with very inspiring comments. It makes it feel like you're not alone on this journey,” he says. "I love showing my progress, in hopes that it helps other people." Greg also received boundless support from his mother, who believed in him even when he felt hopeless. "Without her, none of this would have been possible. Family is is a big part of weight loss."
  4. Get creative about beating cravings. Greg struggled with cravings for the first few months of his journey. To keep hunger at bay, he ramped up his protein intake. When he felt like he really had to have junk food, he would pick it up at the grocery store, walk around with it for a while and then put it back on the shelf. By the time he got home, the craving would be gone, and he enjoyed the small victory of not buying the junk food. "In two years, I've had a piece of cake and a doughnut," he says. "I see other people eating that stuff and it doesn't bother me at all now…give it some time and things like that won't bother you either!"
  5. Don't fall for get-thin-quick schemes. Greg cautions against ads and commercials hawking expensive meals plans and fad diets for quick weight loss. "Just cut out junk and simple sugars, and eat meat and veggies," he recommends.
  6. Don't deprive yourself completely. "Enjoy some guilty pleasures every now and then, because if you don't, you'll find yourself giving in and giving up," Greg says. "And remember portion control! Eat a piece of cake or cup of ice cream, but only a piece or cup, small at that, and be done with it!" Try these 10 smart splurges.
  7. Stay consistent…To succeed at three-digit weight loss, consistency is key. "You've got to keep going to see results," says Greg. "You can't do a little here and there and go back to the old ways and start all over again."
  8. …but don't overdo it. Greg is no stranger to overtraining. In one post, he talked about feeling lightheaded and fatigued after walking nine miles for seven days in a row, along with three days of weight training, while only eating around 1,500 calories per day. "I've become obsessed with walking off everything I eat…I guess I don't know when to quit!" While it's great to stay consistent and committed, rest days allow your muscles to repair and rebuild, leaving you refreshed and energized for your next workout.
Although his official weight loss journey took two and a half years, Greg says that in a way, it has taken his whole life to lose the 300 pounds. For other Sparkers who have a lot to lose, he encourages them to stick with it. "If it looks like you can't make it, look back and say, 'I'm a lot further then I used to be,'" he says. "Don’t give up—keep pushing! There will be good days and bad days, and once you start losing the weight, there will be a lot more good days." 

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