A blog by runners. For runners.

Weight Loss Success Through Healthy Living

Jough Dempsey recently shared his amazing weight loss journey and transformation with us. So far Jough has lost over 189 pounds since he made the decision in 2008 to start eating better and exercising. Jough's decision to make a lifestyle change is so inspirational. His story and weight loss tips are sure to inspire you to make a change in your own life – whether that be to get in shape or pursue another goal.

Caitlin: Tell us a little bit about your life before you started on your healthy living journey.

Jough: I was a fat kid growing up so I've been overweight for most of my life. Starting sometime before I was a teenager I'd been wearing “husky” sized pants. By the time I went into junior high/middle school I was definitely obese rather than just overweight. So having lived with being fat for so long and not trying actively to lose weight… I've tried twice before – once in Weight Watchers with my dad when I was in high school and I didn't really have much success with that, and once again maybe a few years before what I started what I'm doing now but it didn't really click. A few things in my life changed that got me where I am. One of those was moving to Chicago (I'm from Philadelphia originally). Once I moved here, I gained a little over 70 pounds in about two years. Chicago has a lot of great restaurants and a lot of good bars and alcohol pounds are definitely a real thing.

Caitlin: When did it hit you that you needed to lose weight and get in shape?

Jough: Well, I've always known I needed to but there were basically three things that kind of hit me all within a couple weeks that made me make the decision to lose weight once and for all. I had a date with a girl (not my wife) at a movie theatre and I didn't fit into the seat at the movies and it was kind of embarrassing. She was actually really nice about it but it was still mortifying. Then after that I bought a scale online that was high capacity and it went up to 451. I figured, well 450 sure that will be great I'll be able to weight myself, and knowing what I weigh I'll be able to keep track of it. When I first stepped on the scale it said ERR which the manual said meant it was over the limit. So that kind of hit me, I was over 450 pounds and I was very very quickly on my way to being the 500 pound gorilla. The third thing that happened shortly after I got the scale, was my grandmother passed away and I didn't really have anything to wear to her funeral. So I went to the fat guy clothing store – the Big and Tall – and they didn't have anything that fit me. I think it was at that point that even the fat guy clothing store didn't have anything to fit me.

Caitlin: Once you did decide to live healthy and lose weight, how did you know where to start?

Jough: I kind of didn't know where to start but all of these standard notions on what to do to lose weight – eat better and exercise – were things I definitely wasn't doing. I was looking for excuses to not move around very much. The very first thing I did was start eating better – just cutting out things I knew were bad for me. I also had a heel spur. When I first started I had a problem where every step was agony. Even with the heel spur I just started walking. Walking was an easy way to get started. I started reading books on the subject and even bought the 'Fitness for Dummies' book (which is actually a pretty good book – it has a lot of good tips in it). The first thing I did was cut out things I knew were unhealthy, and a lot of them I didn't even enjoy that much. I was having a bagel with cream cheese every day. I looked at it, and I like bagels, but I don't love bagels. I stopped doing that and don't really miss it. I will have a bagel every once in a while, but it's not a regular thing. I did a very minimal amount of effort in the beginning and lost 50 pounds in the first three months. Even just changing little tiny things – getting some exercise and eating better made a huge difference for me.

Caitlin: I'm sure you've had obstacles along the way. Did you experience the weight loss/weight gain routine througout this?

Jough: Not since I started my current routine back in June of 2008. Starting in June four years ago I did start in earnest, and the first 50 pounds was easy, but it took another six months to lose the next 50 pounds and then about a year to lose the next 50 pounds. I stagnated for about a year and a half. I kind of got cocky and thought “I know what I'm doing. I don't need to count calories anymore.” I wasn't weighing in enough. I was hovering around 300 pounds for about a year. I met my wife during this process, and we were dating and we went out a lot. Until this past March when I got my yearly checkup and found out I have high cholesterol. The doctor said if I couldn't lower my cholesterol naturally I would've needed medication which has lots of side-effects, and I wanted to try to avoid that.

Caitlin: Did you exercise at all before you started losing weight in 2008?

Jough: I've always been a walker. Even when I was slowly gaining weight over a period of 20 years I still walked. I don't drive at all. I'd say I started to incorporate more exercise immediately but I was lucky in that it was easy for me to incorporate exercise because the place I worked had a gym in the building. I could go there before work, work out then take a shower and go to work. They had a personal trainer available – it was expensive but I worked with one about a month into my weight loss and that was super helpful. At the time I walked to work. Now it's a little far to walk – but most of the time I ride my bike now, about a three and a half to four mile commute and it's really easy to commute.

Caitlin: How often do you exercise now?

Jough: I exercise every day. Every once in a while I'll have a down day. I bought a wireless pedomoeter that hooks up to your computer to track my steps and distance. My goal is 10,000 steps which is about five miles a day. I generally do things you consider exercise a few times a week and I do a lot of walking and try to get in at least five miles a day.

Weight loss tips from Jough

  • Keep a food log – count calories
  • Just because you count calories – you can't eat whatever you want because you'll run out of calories too early in the day and will be hungry

  • Avoid high fat and high calorie foods
  • Cooking for yourself can save calories vs. eating out
  • Drink a lot of water

Do you have any of your own healthy living tips? Share them in a comment below!