James Garrison is a vital part of our healthy living/weight loss community. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything, he doesn’t like excuses, and he is one of the most honest people I have ever “met” on the internet. I started following James on facebook over a year ago. My friend Starla told me about him. She had watched him on that ABC show Extreme Makeover: Weight loss edition. She was always commenting on how hilarious this guy was. Oh and he lost a TON of weight! I had to add him right away. I always looked forward to what James had to say. It’s great when someone has a sense of humor! All of a sudden though, James vanished from our little community. No posts, pictures, humor. Nothing! We all were shocked.
So you get off a reality tv show and life is perfect right? WRONG. James ended up very sick. Two times he ended up in the hospital. This was due to pushing his body to limits that not anyone should ever attempt. Basically he lost the weight way too quickly. It really screwed his entire system up. James was brave and came forward with his story. I am sure he received a lot of crap for dissing his reality show, but his TRUTH was more important. I had the pleasure of asking him a few questions. Here is our exchange-
What was your highest recorded weight?
Well recorded… 694, that was after I had been dieting hard for three weeks and my scales finally came in the mail. Means I was probably well over 715lbs just by looking at what I was able to lose the following weeks.
How much weight have you lost?
715lbs down to 338… so 377lbs. If you want to add in all the losses and regains, well I’m guessing hundreds more.
What do you think was the underlying cause of obesity in your case? Were you overweight growing up?
I think being an athlete when I was younger got me in the mindset that I could eat more than the normal person, which I could, because I was working out 6-7 hours a day for probably 6+ years. After that was all over you cant keep the same diet and not do the work. Now combine that with the fact I was in great shape, and a champion powerlifter who could squat over 800lbs in my prime, the weight never affected me until it did. Once I was done with sports I dove straight into college, and work, and led this really busy fast lifestyle of always being on the go. Not too mention my profession of being a computer geek meant long hours sitting in front of a PC.
Can you give us a sample of what you eat in a full day?
I try to east 5 or so meals, of different portions depending on what I am doing. If I am bulking up trying to build muscle, then around 3,000 calories. If I’m trying to lose weight 1800 calories.
What is your favorite form of exercise?
Mountain biking… Its really takes the exercise mentality and just throws it out the window. It’s all about fun. Its cardio, but not the mind numbing sort. When your worried about dodging trees, jumping rocks, and trying not to become a causality, you don’t notice you’ve just maintained 150 beats per minute for the last 30 minutes.
Tell us what you keep stocked in the fridge.
Chicken, broccolie, mushrooms, and did I mention chicken? Im like the bubba gump of the chicken industry. Chicken tacos, chicken salad, chicken soup, you can boil it, broil it…
Do you have a support system? If so who helps you the most?
I would say that no matter who is there to help or support if you don’t want it… it doesn’t matter. You will find a way to make those people feel as if they are helping, while your out ninja sabotaging yourself.
Tell us about your blog www.truthinchange.com
Truthinchange is a website I started as a free community of weight loss related ideas, that will never charge for anything, or sell any magic pill. It’s people supporting people… I havent done much with it in months. Its gone through this progression of being one thing, to being another and hopefully version 3.0 I get right. Its coming soon. My problems lies in the fact I do all this myself. The web coding, the writing, and I only have so much time in my day and even as talented as I am there are things I cant code and would have to pay for assistance, which im poor these days. I live a different kind of lifestyle where I don’t focus on money or obtaining wealth because I’ve had that and I found it to be a pretty vacuous existence. I experienced a lot of professional and financial success very young because I worked so hard at it. Part of the reason for that was I grew up very very poor. I just realized I was focusing all my life on acquiring things I didn’t need, and as it turned out when I got them… I didn’t want.
What has been the hardest part of this journey. The mental or physical changes?
Mental… You have to question yourself, you have to get real answers from yourself, and once you’ve done that you have to ask yourself why you have the answers you do? Is it because it’s the truth, or is it because you want to believe that.
Do you regret being part of a reality show? Can you tell us about the experience?
Yes I do. I lost way too much weight, way to fast, and it was done in a very unhealthy way that was not portrayed on television. So you have all these people believing this is possible with this diet, because some guys has a good smile and apparently living with 9 different people for 3 months each during the span of 1 year? Do the math… yeah doesn’t add up, does it? I feel like I lied to America, and the people I care about. The people who are, or were in my situation. I don’t like the idea of that. I started blogging, vlogging, and participating in weight loss forums way before I was every on the tv show. I did that because I wanted to help as much as I knew I needed the help and I promise I would always be there to help people in this struggle. Now through in the fact that I almost died twice and was hospitalized almost 10 days on two different occasions? Not something I would do again.
Do you have a day where you “cheat” or have a special snack?
I try not… one day leads to another. What I try to do is cook one higher calorie meal a week as a treat but its always a healthy spin on something that’s not healthy.
How do balance drinking and healthy living? Do you limit alcohol consumption?
I didn’t drink for over two years or so and since I limit my consumptions. I’ve never been a sit and drink at home person. If there is alcohol in my hand its because I’m out somewhere or with friends and lets face it. We’re all adults now, we have lives, and none of us have the time to do this as much as we like. So in the end it all kinda limits itself.
What are some of your favorite places online to get inspiration?
You people… I like to know that I’m helping. That keeps me motivated, keeps me writing, keeps me sharing ideas… and keeps my own weight loss in check. Whether we realize it or not we are in this together and without each other where are we going to lean when we get tired?
What is your primary reason to keep losing weight?
I’m not actively trying to lose weight right now and haven’t been for a long time. After all the health problems I’ve experienced from the show I don’t think it’s a good idea. I work out, I maintain and I try to let my body get used to everything I have put it through. I first started this because my weight became a health issue. Regardless of peoples preconceived notions I never had a single health problem as a result of my weight. My health records are nonexistent because I was extremely healthy. Then one day I lifted something heavy and I tore a muscle in my abdomen. I couldn’t get it repaired because of my weight and since then I knew what I had to do.
How do you feel knowing that you have possibly saved yourself from disease/death related to obesity? Does that help you to keep going?
You know I’m not afraid of death, I think of all the things that could happen to you from being overweight that is probably the easiest to deal with from a personal perspective. My biggest fear was stroke, loss of mental capacity or even motor functions. Could you imagine that, and what kind of struggle that is? Or what about the loss of a legs from diabetes? I think that is was scarier than death.
Please share with us your 3 best Nutrition tips.
If you going to over eat, do it on vegetables. If that wont cure your craving doing it on meat. Whatever you do, don’t do it on CARBS!
Buy healthy things in bulk, spend your food budget all at once, you will save money, and if all your money is spent on healthy stuff, then theres no money for bad stuff unless you want to pawn your television.
Buy your meats raw, not in the deli. You want your meat consumption to look like this. Chicken, Turkey, Fish. I could go on and on for days… but these things will help you out the most initially.
Please share with us your 3 best Fitness tips.
Get rid of cable TV, you don’t need it. Find something to do with your time that doesn’t involve sitting on your ass : )
Unless you’re a workout nut, like me, you’re never going to get off on making yourself sore and miserable. You want to make exercise fun, enjoyable, and you want to be in a condition where when tomorrow comes you not too sore to do it again, so you can always do more than you did yesterday.
Plan things with friends that don’t involve bars, or restaurants, making healthy active plans. Canoe, kayak, hike, walk, bike, do anything that gets your moving and away from that idle time where we make all our bad decsions.
Do you have any advice for someone who is 300+400+500+ pounds? What can they do to start?
Yes. I started by walking out my front door and going for a walk. I had just watched a tv special for on overweight persion being cut out of their home and it hit me… that’s going to be me. He cant weigh that much more than me? So I turned off the tv and walked out of my front door. Never looked back. Turns out though that guy weighed less than I did at the time.
Do women treat you differently now? Do you have more confidence?
Ya know… Imagine a lion hunting gazelle his entire life and constantly being on the prowl. Now imagine one day the gazelles just start walking up to the lion, and there like… hey you… Yeah you… Lion… Eat me! I cant think of a better way to put than that. I have always had confidence and have always had women in my life regardless of my size. The expression make a woman laugh and you can make her do anything is completely true.
What is the plan from here? Can you share your next fitness/health related goals with us.
I want to hike the Colorado trail. Its 472 miles of man vs nature. I don’t have the funds to do it, or it would already be done. Wonder if I can start a kickstarter project for that? Lol. I have this argument with my friends that I believe I could take a bear in a fight and I think this would be the perfect opportunity to find out if im right. Everyone thinks its ridiculous to think I could take a bear but what they don’t realize is that it’s the people with that mentality in life that are the only ones that actually stand a chance. If you apply that philosophy in everything in life you will be amazed.
Any last advice for people wanting to change their life?
Get off the innerwebze, get off your azz and do something. You want something in life, do more than what it takes to get it. Then its yours… I used to weigh 715lbs and everyone In this world thought I was probably going to be dead and I can’t blame them for thinking so. I changed my life, not some tv show, not some book, not some magic pill. I said I had enough, and that I wanted more for myself and for my life that what I had. I realized being alive didn’t mean I was living and lifes too damn beautiful to waste.