At first, he would listen to podcasts while running. But reading a book about meditative running -- "Running with the Mind of Meditation" by Sakyong Mipham -- changed his mindset. When he challenged himself to run without technology, he ran at least eight miles, and felt better than during any other run. He also got into meditation itself, which he found even harder than exercise because of the need to stay focused.
Although exercise has brought him noticeable physical and mental health benefits, he calculates that from a pure weight loss perspective, 80% of his loss has been due to his food intake.
What he eats
Today, Almaer continues to focus on minimizing carbohydrates and sugars, focusing instead on protein and vegetables.
Typically, for breakfast, he'll have a veggie bacon omelet, with water to drink. Lunch could be a salad with meat on top, or even a burger without the bun. Dinner might be quinoa with chicken, with more salad. Almonds make a good snack.
He'll have a cup or two of coffee in the morning to help boost his metabolism and take some of the hunger away.
Sticking to his diet isn't always easy. He remembers breaking down at a child's birthday party and eating more cake. The family still often eats pizza on Friday nights, but these days Almaer only has one slice instead of four.
He's also determined that having a "cheat day" isn't as effective as he thought; at first he enjoyed being able to indulge on his cheat day. But the day after would always be full of cravings. Now he keeps his "cheat" treats small, such as dark chocolate.
How it feels
Living with 115 pounds less than last year, Almaer says he has much more energy throughout the day. He used to be a night owl; now he doesn't even need an alarm to wake up in the morning. The tiredness he used to feel after lunch is gone. His lung and skin problems have cleared up. And his mood is "much more positive."
Weight loss has provided him with tangible evidence that he was able to make modifications to better himself, boosting his self confidence. It makes him think, "Huh, I actually made a change, and it's actually working. What else do I want to do with my life?"
He's intent on staying healthy, not just for himself, but for his family. He wants to live long for them as a good role model.
"I can tell my kid a million times, eat your broccoli," he said. "But if I'm there eating a pizza, it's just not going to work."
Almaer was brought to tears when, about eight months ago, his eldest son was at a friend's house and told his hosts he didn't want soda. He asked for water instead, "because that's what Dad drinks," Almaer recalls.
"This is having a bigger effect than anything else that I can be doing," Almaer said. "What are the things I can model, especially as a father, to a son? And it keeps kind of escalating from there."
When old photos of Almaer show up on the family's digital photo stream, his 4-year-old son Josh will shout "There's Fat Daddy!" or even, "I never got to meet Fat Daddy."
The truth is, of course, Josh did meet Almaer when he was "Fat Daddy." He just doesn't remember when his father looked like that, only a year ago.
The weight has been stored on the hard drive of the past.
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