By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
Losing weight and changing to living a healthy lifestyle can be one of the toughest challenges one can take on. Doing it over a period of 10 months and losing the equivalent of weight as another above average sized human being seems almost impossible. But for one downstate man that is exactly what he did.
Christian Evans, a 34 year-old trained cook, is now also a weight-loss blogger who attempts to inspire others with his story. He offers healthy recipes, exercises and advice for those taking on the task. Evans’ weight ballooned to 403 lbs. in July of 2013 after three family members passed away from health related illnesses. His mother died of breast cancer in 2008, a cousin he considered a brother two years later and his grandmother a year later. The series of personal tragedies sent his life into a tailspin and food became his coping mechanism. Although he always lifted weights and has an athletic 6’3” frame, Evans said his diet was a complete wreck.
“I decided to investigate how people lost weight; not so much what was the deciding factor, but what pushed them towards actions,” Evans said. “If you have enough discipline and mental fortitude you can pretty much follow anything. There are a lot of different diet plans and you as an individual have to choose which one you are going to do and stick to it. That was a key part in all my research that I did and nobody had touched on it; mental discipline.”
Evans said after his research his spiritual side kicked in and he realized that he could do all the research he wanted but until the actual physical work began, he would still be stuck in the same situation.
“It’s about what are you going to do as a person and when the journey gets tough, are you going to quit? That is where your faith comes into play,” Evans said. “Those are the decisions I still have to make every single day.”
Evans said food choices can become a complicated issue for people looking to move to a healthier diet. He said you cannot always believe what is printed on food labels and if you do not grow your own food, you can never be 100 percent sure of what you are putting into your body. Accepting that reality, along with what is affordable to your budget, are still keys to having a healthy food conscious.
“You may not have the best of everything, but you can choose not to have the worst,” he said.
Because of his massive weight, Evans said when he began working out he did strictly cardio exercises instead of lifting weights. Most people start with running, but because he was over 400 pounds, he was not able to do that. So he would set a goal to do an hour a day, five days a week on an elliptical machine. Sometimes he would reach his goal, other days he would not. But over time he began noticing he could make the time and the pounds were coming off.
“I stopped being addicted to the food and started becoming addicted to the results,” he explained. “I was starting to lose two and three pounds a day. After 60 hard core days of doing that and using a liquid diet, I had dropped 80 pounds.”
Evans said with the early success, he had to guard against becoming complacent, especially after the compliments from other people started rolling in. He went back to eating solid foods again for a week before repeating the entire process all over again and each time, he would lose more weight. He had a goal weight of 215 pounds. By March of 2014 he was down to 225. He kept working hard and two months later had lost a remarkable 187 pounds.
“I was elated with all the weight loss but I noticed I had all of this fat still hanging from my gut. Turns out that wasn’t fat at all but rather skin,” he says with a laugh.
Loose skin is a result from rapid weight loss. Over time the loose skin went away and Evans said his mentality going in was doing whatever he took to lose the weight and he would deal with the small problems like hanging skin later. But another consequence of losing the weight was he lost a lot of muscle strength. No longer was he able to bench press 400 pounds as he could before. He did not like being weak so he began using resistance bands to increase his strength before eventually going back to lifting weights full time. But he said it took him a while to find the balance.
“I wanted to be lean and strong,” he said.
Spiritually Evans said the weight loss journey allowed him to become more in tuned with himself and understand what his purpose in life was: helping people.
“I’ve been so private with my life in not knowing what I was supposed to be doing, it just revealed to me if you’re not on this planet to help someone then you are not truly living,” he said. “It also changed my disposition in that it calmed me down and led me to be more loving and have a more positive attitude about life.”
His website christianweightsuccess.net offers a lot of solid advice for those looking to take the journey. He offers recipes for low-fat, nutritious meals. He also counsels six clients. He said educating people who want to get started is quite rewarding. The website is updated weekly.
“Many times on the site I just offer my perspectives on life, everything is not about weight loss and sometimes I confess that I may not have eaten well this week,” he said. “But I try to keep it all positive.”
Evans said the key to success in anything in life is making up your mind that you want to do it. He said if a person does not have the will, nothing else will matter.
“You actually have to do the work. And honestly that is the toughest part. This is for you and that is what we all have to realize, there is no let up. And once you understand that, you will be better,” Evans said. “You have to be your own light at the end of the tunnel.”