Throwing Shade

I lost 45 pounds and gained it all back. This time, I’m keeping it off.

Justin Mitchell runs through tires while training for Battle on Buffett Beach in Pascagoula.
Justin Mitchell runs through tires while training for Battle on Buffett Beach in Pascagoula. City of Pascagoula

Last year was one of the best years of my life.

In May, I got sick and tired of being sick and tired all of the time. At 275 pounds, I was morbidly obese, according to the BMI scale. I found out I had given myself type 2 diabetes because of how terrible my eating habits had gotten. I could barely boil water, so I never cooked. I lived on Taco Bell and the best Chinese buffet on the Coast (in my humble opinion) and ate a few nice meals every now and again.

The only thing I was confident enough to cook in the kitchen was a frozen pizza or club sandwich.

After a nurse at my doctor’s office called me and told me the news, I was so angry at myself. How could I let myself get to that point where I had to take a pill every single day?

My cholesterol was up and my blood pressure was rising, too. I knew at that moment that I had to make a change.

I had joined a CrossFit gym a year prior, and just exercising alone changed my body for the better, but not changing my diet had proved to be detrimental. Spoiler alert: You can’t go work out for 2 hours and eat an entire pan pizza from Domino’s. That’s not how it works.

Two of my friends, Rachael Hines and Kristin Grizzard, did the Whole 30 eating challenge and saw amazing results. Kristin, who I call the Master Chef of Ocean Springs, cooked and prepped all of their food. I inquired about the challenge from Kristin and decided I wanted in. For 30 days, it meant no fried food, no bread, no gluten, no dairy, no alcohol, no chemicals, no processed foods and no sodas.

Kristin made me a grocery list, I bought the food and she prepped it and cooked it for me for the first two weeks.

The first week of Whole 30 was a nightmare. I was getting pounding headaches from not having any Diet Coke. I was literally dreaming about ham sandwiches, Oreos and chicken quesadillas. I would go to restaurants with my friends and order plain grilled chicken and steamed broccoli, all the while wanting to tackle the couple next to us who had the nerve to order mozzarella sticks and chicken tenders.

But then, something crazy happened. My skin cleared up. I started sleeping at night for eight or more hours. I saw my arms get smaller. My belly flab started to tighten. And my shoulders. Man, my shoulders looked great.

In one month, I lost 30 pounds. Kristin’s food became a hit, and she now owns her own meal-prepping business, Prep By KUG.

I took the summer off and did not gain any weight, mostly because I joined a new Crossfit gym that kept me on track. Sara Carter at CrossFit Portside showed me how strong I really was on the inside. I did another round of Whole 30 in the fall. I lost 15 more pounds. At my smallest, I weighed 235. My goal weight was 220.

After Christmas, though, I had no desire to diet anymore.

I focused on work and became best friends with my favorite Chinese buffet again.

The friendly guy at the Taco Bell drive through knew who I was again when I would roll on through. I quit going to the gym as often and coasted through workouts, not giving it my all. I tried eating healthy again, my head wasn’t in it.

Fast forward to October when I stepped on a scale again.

It only took about a year to gain every pound I had lost back. My clothes weren’t fitting right any more. I had to give all my size 34 jeans away to my boyfriend. I can’t even wear button-down shirts right now because every one I own is too snug.

I looked at myself naked in the mirror and snapped a photo. I knew this is not what I wanted. I weened myself off medicine and cured my diabetes. It’s not a place I wanted to see again. I don’t want to die because of obesity.

I picked up some grilled chicken and almond butter and started Whole 30 again last week. I have been doing workouts when I can and am drinking tons of water. I give myself a cheat meal on Sunday, but that’s it. It’s been almost two weeks since I started Whole 30, and I’m down 12 pounds again. Even with the day to eat what I want and treat myself, I’m still losing inches and seeing pounds melt off.

My friend Ravin Floyd asked me if I would participate in the city of Pascagoula’s Battle on Buffet Beach on December 3, and I knew it was just what I needed to push me. I took a walk through the obstacle course on Thursday and saw what I was up against in less than three weeks, and I still have a lot to do to prepare for the tires, log jump, tunnel crawl and wall scale, among other obstacles.

But I’m ready to take my life back again, one step at a time.

Here’s to hoping I can continue to say yes to the right things and no to my favorite buffet.

If you want to do Battle by the Beach, check out their Facebook event.

Justin Mitchell: 228-604-0705, @Journalism_J