My absolute favorite thing about running Strong Inside Out is the correspondence I have with readers.
I get all kinds of amazing, heartfelt, make-me-cry emails from people who have fought through hardships and come out stronger. I get inspired by you all, and the level of strength within every single one of you.
Recently, as you probably know, I ran a little 30-day challenge.
I posted my before and after pictures, but heard a few times that the results weren’t too drastic.
I hear you, guys. They were definitely drastic to me because I’m living in them, but I can completely understand how they wouldn’t look all that impressive to someone else.
But I still hold onto the conviction that changing your habits to healthy ones can change your life exponentially.
It’s just that, truth be told, I was pretty healthy to begin with. I wasn’t eating cheetos everyday. I wasn’t completely sedentary. I wasn’t drinking soda…
I don’t really have that extreme makeover to show you. What I needed was visual proof from someone who got that kind of major result…
And then, BAM! Along came Ryan…
Ryan commented on the 30-Day Challenge Wrap-Up with this:
“As of 8pm tonight I am one month free of all colas, sodas, drinks with HFCS. I’ve been drinking only water and seltzer. That was the challenge I purposely took on. The challenge I didnt realize I took on was that I went a month with almost no consumption of processed food. I had one slip up which was one slice of a personal pan pizza at one of the big chain pizza places (and it tasted awful by the way). I have a good amount of weight to lose and hopefully will see considerable changes after 80 days or so.
Ever since I was a teen I considered myself a connoisseur of soft drinks. I never got into alcohol or tobacco and only ate the average amount of candy. Soda was my big weakness. I never thought I’d beat it (or would want to beat it).“
After a few comments back and forth, I found out that he had lost one pant size after cutting the soda, and that his goal was a size 38/40.
Flash forward to a month later…
I got a notification that somebody posted on the Strong Inside Out Facebook page. So I went to check it out and saw this:
I seriously gasped out loud. Turns out he accepted the “Sweat” challenge as well from the post, Change Is In The Hair: A Risk-Taking Challenge. Here’s what he wrote:
“From a size 54/56 to size 46 in nine weeks. I have no idea on how much weight. I stopped drinking soda and started walking 15 minutes every morning”
The combination of exercise and a healthier diet led Ryan to lose 10 pants sizes! I have no doubt that he’ll keep going and reach his goal of a size 38/40 in no time.
As I got to know Ryan a little more, I came to find that he was on a roll of new healthy-habit-making!
I personally thought Ryan was an inspiration, and an excellent example of what you can do if you make your health a priority over the comfort of now.
I was so impressed with his results that I reached out to him and asked him if he would mind answering a few questions for us!
I’m so grateful that he’s willing to share with us what he struggles with and what has helped him achieve the change he’s been wanting for years over the past few months. All you 30-day challengers, listen up! Here comes Ryan…
What pushed you to kick your soda habit?
I was addicted to all kinds of soda. didn’t matter what brand or flavor, regular or diet. I had started reading on my own about the dangers of aspartame, then high fructose corn syrup, caramel coloring and it just spiraled from there.
I didn’t want to pay for the privilege of poisoning myself anymore.
Common sense tells us we all know soda pop and Twinkies are bad for you, but when you really read about why these companies do what they do to our food, it really changes your outlook. It ultimately led to an entire food makeover in my life.
A lot of issues covered on Strong Inside Out really make me believe that a better path is possible. There are many more things I want to achieve and thought if I started with the 30 day challenge cutting soda out of my life and succeeded, then anything is possible.
Please remember there were some days I would go through 12 cans or more, so I classified myself as a hopeless incurable soda addict. I can do anything!
When you decided to quit soda, how hard was it to stick to your guns?
I have a strange answer to that. Sometimes when people say “it’s all in your head” it’s actually true. I had cut myself off at 8pm Friday July 20th, 2012.
The only time I was tempted was every successive Friday night around 6 or 7pm because I knew the landmark 8pm hour was coming. I swear as soon as 8pm passed so did the temptation. I’m happy to say I don’t even concentrate on the clock anymore on Friday nights.
Were the people around you supportive?
Oh absolutely. My family is fighting some similar health and food issues as I am. we are all supporting each other in these lifestyle changes.
I love hearing that your family is taking these steps with you. Do you keep them accountable, and do they keep you accountable?
It’s funny we don’t really see it as accountability as much as we give each other positive reinforcement by sharing information and sharing how much better we feel.
I know the typical scenario with a lot of people is that friends and family try to sabotage your efforts or question your motives. We have a wonderful relationship where all of that “drama” is out the window.
I know you started with 15 minute walks. How long are you walking every day now?
I walk anywhere from 1 to 2 hours 4 days a week now (in small doses anywhere from 10 minutes to a half an hour each time) Please take into account I am someone who hasn’t exercised a bit in 20+ years so it is a series of baby steps.
How tough were the walks when you started? How tough are they now?
They really weren’t tough at all to start. I’ve gradually built myself up in the amount I do every day.
I used to be one of those people that would circle the parking lot to find the closest space to the store. Now I park way out.
I have to fit the walking in where I can. Even pushing a shopping cart around can be good exercise if you pick up your feet (yes I used to be a “shuffler” not picking up my feet when I walked).
What would you say the best benefit of a healthier lifestyle has been for you so far?
The biggest improvement has been my sleep. I am going to bed at 10 and sleeping right through till 5. I used to have a bad habit of sleeping in small chunks. I was consistently waking up at 2am, going to the fridge and popping open 1 or 2 cans of citrus flavored soda, watching sitcom reruns, then going back to bed around 3:30.
Not to mention the obvious excessive restroom issues that soda addiction caused are completely gone.
Do you ever doubt that you can keep this up?
I don’t doubt it for one minute. I’ve not been tempted to go back at all. My body has been cleansed of caffeine and it feels great. Even when I’ve had a headache I’ve just toughed it out – I didn’t want caffeine back in my body in any form or fashion, even headache pills.
Are you implementing the challenge into any other parts of your life?
- I mentioned earlier how the elimination of soda turned into the elimination of all processed food.
- I eat only fresh (and organic where possible) fruits and veggies.
- The only starch I eat is kosher rye bread (as a means of conveyance for my turkey sandwiches).
- Meat, poultry, dairy and eggs must be free range/grass fed. It’s funny when I eat real food that doesn’t contain all the bad buzz-words (gluten, HFCS, aspartame) I feel full and there’s no need to keep junk food in the house.
How does being healthier affect your confidence and happiness levels?
That’s a tough one. I know I still have so much further to go.
I’m not so sure you could call what I have confidence as much as I am calling it resistance. Resistance to never wanting to be sluggish, sick or apathetic towards life again. Resistance to never making bad food choices again and to pay someone else for the privilege of making me sick and dependent on medication.
This may not be what you were expecting to hear but I almost look at it from an adversarial angle: me vs. “them”, and I want to win! As far as happiness oh yeah it’s there. Just feeling and seeing the small changes makes me happy and feel like i will live to fight another day.
What words of advice would you give to people who haven’t yet taken the step to overcome unhealthy habits, but want to?
Read and think for yourself. Again we know the stuff is called “junk food” for a reason.
Once you start reading you will realize the ugly truth about the ingredients in a lot of food is hidden in plain sight.
Once you have educated yourself and decide the path you want to take to become healthy – don’t look back!
You and I talked about the possibility of a 5k walk as a goal- have you thought more about it???
I sure have. I hope that by Spring 2013 i will be able to do it. I still have a long way to go though. Can’t stop now!
I just want to say a huge, proud-mama-bear CONGRATULATIONS to Ryan for achieving so much change in only 9 weeks.
You’re an inspiration, man, and I can’t wait to see some updated photos as you continue down this path!
I love, love, LOVE hearing success stories from readers! It really is the highlight of, well, my life. :)
What really makes me want to shout from the rooftops is that this readership, you, are all becoming an ACTIVE community. Because of your participation, lives are changing. People are growing… er… shrinking! ;)
This is the exact goal I was going for when I started SIO: bringing people together so that they can inspire each other and offer an endless cycle of support and motivation.
This goal is starting to come to fruition, just as a few others in my life are as well. I can’t wait to share them all with you, but due to the fact that Talk Is Cheap, I’m holding it all in until I’m ready to unfurl it onto the world for realsies!
Though I have a clear vision of what I am doing, and that I want this to be a community, I want to focus Strong Inside Out more on you.
I want this to be that site you go to when things get boring at work.
I want this to be a resource when you’re feeling down or unmotivated.
I want this to be a reminder to you that you are in fact stronger than you know.
To do this in the most effective manner possible, I’d love to ask you a few questions to help me tailor the site to you. This is all about what you want, not what I want to give you.
I’ve embedded an anonymous survey below, and it would mean so much to me if you could fill it out.
I have a little bonus for those of you who do!
I designed a desktop wallpaper that looks like this:
If you fill out the survey, then comment below saying that you did, I’ll send you an email with the full-size wallpaper and a big ol’ THANK YOU!
Thank you in advance for helping Strong Inside Out grow even stronger!
Not seeing the survey? Please click here to go to the survey page! Thank youuu!