An exercise tip to avoid loose skin from a 28-year-old who lost, regained, then lost 220 pounds

Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.

Stefan Trotman is 28, 6’3″ tall, and currently weighs 190 pounds. In 2010, after being frustrated by his weight for a long time, he was motivated to make a change after seeing a friend achieve some weight-loss success. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.

The turning point

I was always frustrated by how much it cost to buy clothes when you are a larger size. I remember entering sixth grade when I lived in Barbados and having to go get fitted for my uniform. They didn’t sell a size 40 on the shelves where everyone bought their pants so I had to go to the warehouse where they were produced and put in a custom order.

This trend persisted from then on as I continued to gain weight. After moving to the States, I only had about three or four years of being able to shop in stores before I had no other option but to purchase my clothes online. I was especially startled in 2010 after being measured for a suit for my grandmother’s funeral. But even with these difficulties, I still wasn’t able to take immediate action.

Later that year, I heard that a family friend had lost 10 pounds in a week, which was pretty remarkable to me. I got the information for the dietician she had seen. I went in, we talked for an hour or so and discussed what I wanted to change and he made suggestions on how to go about making those changes. That next week, I lost eight pounds from making changes like drinking more water, cutting back on sugary drinks, and not drowning the salads I was previously buying in dressing.

Experiencing change in the first week helped me develop a mentality in which I used my progress as my encouragement. Seeing eight pounds gone made me question if I could lose 10. It made me think, “if I can lose 10, what are the odds of losing 20?”

Stefan Trotman started with small, simple changes.

The changes

Food is the most direct cause of the weight I gained and addressing diet was the first step to mitigating and potentially reversing the the damage I had done to my body. People are quick to ask me how much I work out and yes, there are some weeks where I’ll have five days of workouts, some of them with two-a-day sessions. But that will mean next to nothing if my food intake were to completely negate the effort I put in at the gym.

I think I realized when I started losing weight that I had drifted so far from what would be considered a healthy lifestyle that I was willing to do anything it took, and that included completely cutting out some food groups.

I lost 40 pounds in those months from cutting out processed carbs like bread, increasing my vegetable intake, and monitoring my protein. In the beginning, I didn’t work out at all. For the most part, my only physical activity was walking to and from the train during the week.

I’ve never seriously counted calories, partially due to being lazy and because I didn’t want to confine myself to metrics. Losing weight is hard enough as it is, counting calories would frustrate me. I’ve never had a set diet but over these six or seven years, when I’m doing my best, my food intake and habits are pretty consistent. Have breakfast, drink plenty of water each day, make sure to snack throughout the day to help manage hunger levels. Meals mostly consist of vegetables, almost no carbs at all, and some protein because I love meat and that’s likely never going to change.

I started exercising around September of 2010 when I returned to school. I’ve always been pretty strong, so I loved lifting weights. For cardio, I’d do an hour on the treadmill, full inclined at about 3 mph. Even at 360 pounds, I was able to do about four or five solid gym sessions per week, which directly impacted losing 60 additional pounds by the following summer.

I felt good while making the changes. I’m a very giving person and like helping others, so this was one of the first times I’d started doing something that served to only benefit myself, and that’s a really nice feeling.

The motivation has always been the progress, and that’s unlikely to change. I never had a goal weight in mind, I never had an ideal pants size envisioned. Losing those first eight pounds completely altered what I thought I was capable of.

I became obsessed with doing more, running farther, being active, trying new and healthy foods and recipes and spices. I became obsessed with improvement and change. Change is huge because most diets will work, but allowing them to adapt and become an actual part of your daily lifestyle is harder.

Stefan Trotman is training for a marathon.

The after

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I did face quite a lengthy period of regression. After I finished college, up until summer of 2016, I had put back on most of the original 100 pounds I lost in the first year. When I started working, even though I rejoined the gym, my eating habits were absolutely doing more harm than good and nullifying any progress that I was making at the gym. In between the spurts of half-assed gym sessions and less than ideal eating habits, I found myself around 320 last summer when I decided to get serious again.

Now that it’s all gone, it;s crazy. I still struggle to find the words to accurately convey what it’s like to be this size after spending most of my life looking like a completely different person. I feel infinite. I feel like there is no limit to what I’m physically or mentally able to take on. Changing my body and persevering for such a long time has conditioned me to go after anything without considering the possibility of failure.

I do more now, I hike, I’ve competed in a distance race, and there are more planned and on the way as I work my wake up to the New York City Marathon in 2019. I demand more of life and for me that means doing more in general.

The maintenance

I usually start the day with some boiled eggs and maybe a cup of coffee or tea. I’ll snack throughout the day, usually on raw almonds or dates. For meals I usually opt for things like steamed vegetables and lean meats. I eat to make sure I can make it through the day, so when people say I barely eat, I’m eating exactly what I need to get through work, get home, and go for my run or to the gym. Very rarely do I find myself extremely hungry, so in between the snacking and moderate meals, I’ve found a sweet spot as far as my eating habits go.

I run about five days a week, typically in the morning before work. I definitely favor running outside as opposed to on the treadmill these days. When I do get to the gym, which is typically about five or six days a week, I spend about 30 minutes taking my time working through anywhere between 100-300 sit-ups. Core strength has always been big for me and will continue to be an integral part of maintaining my shape moving forward. I enjoy seated machine assisted arm and back workouts as that’s an area where loose skin can accumulate, so they’ve helped to reduce that as much as possible.

I make sure to keep up my fluid intake, namely water and tea. I can’t state how important it is to keep water handy and to stay hydrated. I cook more often so I have full transparency over what I’m eating and what goes into my meals, and I’ve stopped using salt entirely.

Stefan Trotman keeps off weight by staying hydrated.

The reach I’ve had and the influence I’ve seen my transformation have has been really motivating. When I first posted my before and after picture and story on Reddit, the feedback was insane. I was getting messages from people both seeking some insight to my experience and congratulating me; this is why I keep going. I hope to have a real and meaningful influence on someone’s life.

I feel like one of those people in weight loss commercials that showcase that have lost hundreds of pounds and make you think, “yeah right, you didn’t lose that.” I’m proof that it’s possible, I’m proof that you can make progress, stumble, and get right back at it. I’m proof that change is always within reach.

The struggles

I sometimes struggle with helping others. People see where I’ve come from and are quick to assume that it’s mostly due to the time I spend in the gym. Educating people that the driving force behind physical change is what you put in your mouth is a bit of a struggle because it is hard to break habits. The thought of having to give up or cut back on the things we enjoy eating that don’t provide any nutrition is usually what discourages people from beginning to make better decisions.

Advice

For this to work, you have to take your time. Start with making small changes that you can maintain and once you’ve got that down, make other, smaller changes. You don’t have to move mountains to make an impact, often times the biggest achievements we make start with very simple, but often tough to execute changes. There’s very little progress to be made in comfort, only when you break habits and change the rhetoric do you open up yourself up to new possibilities and opportunities. Small changes sustained over a period of time will reap huge rewards, I’m proof of that.

All photos courtesy of Stefan Trotman.

Need more inspiration? Read about our other weight-loss winners!

Weight-Loss Win is authored by Andie Mitchell, who underwent a transformative, 135-pound weight loss of her own.

Have a weight-loss win or beauty story to share? We want to hear it! Tell us at YStyleBeauty@yahoo.com.

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