Posted by on Dec 10, 2013

BeginnersMember Spotlight

This week we profile the man, the myth, the legend: DerrickM. If you already follow him, you know what a positive influence he has on all around him. If you don’t already follow him, you just might want to after reading his story. If you have a member you’d like to spotlight, email fitocracymemberspotlight@gmail.com.

Username and level

DerrickM  Level 30

How did you get started in fitness and training?

I have been overweight my entire life. I hurt all the time. I couldn’t sleep. I would go days without leaving my apartment because I was embarrassed and because moving was uncomfortable. Approaching my 40th birthday at 464 pounds, I knew I quite likely didn’t have much time left. I had been watching a Fitocracy member named @slowstarter lose more than 100 pounds. (I didn’t know he was a Fitocrat at first, of course.) Since his situation was similar to mine, I realized I could maybe do it, too. So on March 18, 2013, I decided to take charge of my condition. And in order to keep myself accountable, I chose to share my journey with the world on Facebook and Fitocracy. My before picture was my first profile pic on Fitocracy — I was terrified to post it.

DerrickM in March 2013

DerrickM in December 2013

How did you find the site? How has it changed your workouts?

Fitocrat @slowstarter showed it to me. I was hooked. The first thing it did, from a workout standpoint, was make me aware of weightlifting as a tool for weight loss. Also, the points/level-up system has pushed me to work harder than I would have on my own. (Sometimes with amusing results, such as the night I decided to go for a 3000 point weightlifting workout — it only took me 4 hours in the gym!)

Do you have any long term goals or direction you plan to take your training?

When I started, my only aim was to not wake up dead. I set a goal weight of 225, a change of 239 pounds. In this first 9 months, I have already lost 112 pounds — almost half way there! I have come to understand that fitness is not about a number on the scale, though, and I am constantly finding new things to aim towards. In 2014, I plan to take up running and am considering a martial art such as Krav Maga or Muay Thai.

What are things you’ve learned through trial and error? What areas do you hope to learn more about?

I have definitely learned that I can hurt myself if I am not careful — and that it’s not the end of the world. But my biggest area of growth is my approach to food. People ask me, “How in the world can you get to 464 pounds?” I tell them it’s mainly by eating everything in sight and then asking for more. So I am slowly learning what to eat, how to have a proper “cheat day”, what it means to feel properly full, what a portion looks like, and so much more. I have made a lot of mistakes so far, so I know I can only get better at managing my eating.

Currently, where would you say your weakness lies? Where do you excel?

As I mentioned, my biggest issue is retraining my mind and body about how much food to eat. Sometimes I fall into my old habits and eat ALL THE THINGS. Plus, I get impatient with myself. I want to be healthy now, not 18 months from now. (Of course, it didn’t take me long to recognize that being fit and healthy is a lifelong journey that won’t end just because I reach some arbitrary number on a scale.)

Where I am excelling is in finding that I can do more than I thought I could. And in learning to forgive myself when I make mistakes. Nearly every attempt to lose weight in my past has been derailed in the first month following a few mistakes. This time, I decided I wouldn’t let myself fall into that trap, and it’s made all the difference.

What motivates you?

Only I can motivate me, ultimately, and my biggest driver is the thought of reclaiming the life I have “lost” due to being so unhealthy for all these decades.

Are you using any supplements or special dietary changes to achieve your goals?

I am using products from a company called Nussentials to help lay the foundation for my nutrition. That supplementation for me usually consists of a breakfast smoothie full of whey protein and vitamins, to which I often add frozen berries and greens because the colors and flavors amuse me. Beyond that, the objective is to eat clean foods whenever I can. I track my calorie intake at MyFitnessPal.

If you could give advice to someone starting off, what would you tell them?

I would say the most important thing is that you undertake this journey because it’s what you want to do. If you try to lose weight to please family, friends, or doctors, then you’ll probably not make it. I would also encourage people to savor the little victories along the way, because this is not an overnight journey. I keep a list of victories, everything from “I was able to step out of the shower without holding onto something for balance” to “I did my first real pushup”. When I’m tempted to get discouraged or impatient, I can look at my list is see how far I have already come. Finally, get a support system around you. Fitocracy is great for that.

What’s your ‘secret weapon’, the thing that pushes you or you feel gives you an edge?

I get a huge boost from the membership at Fitocracy. Those folks who have lost 100-200 pounds or more show me the way. And those folks on a different health journey give me encouragement and support. They’re all my own personal secret weapons.

What has the overall impact of Fitocracy been in your life?

In the nine months I have been active on the site, I have made friends with some of the best people I have ever known. I have learned more about health and fitness than I ever expected to have done in so short a time. And I have been pushed harder than I ever would have done on my own. What’s not to love?

One thing I want people to take away from my story is…

No matter where you are, you can always start now. I am only a part of the way along this journey, but we’d be here all day if I tried to list all the ways my life has already improved. You can do it, and it’s worth it!

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