Hiking and meditation helped this guy get sober and lose 350 pounds
Scott Todd is a 31-year-old healthcare worker turned weight loss consultant from Phoenix, Arizona. Alcoholism and opioid addiction after losing his mother-in-law prompted him to turn to food as a method of coping. This is how he got sober and healthy
In fact, I have lost a total of 500 pounds in my lifetime. Although I worked really hard to lose weight in the past, I got it all back in a few years. The most important factor in this weight gain was major depression.
I was addicted to prescription pain relievers and alcohol for many years, and it destroyed my will, dreams and aspirations. I lost my mother-in-law to cancer and it started my weight gain journey. She has always been my greatest cheerleader, especially while pursuing my exercise science degree in 2013. Losing her cost me much of my struggle. I wanted to hide from the world and I didn’t want anyone to know who I was. So I used medicine and food to mask the pain.
At my heaviest weight, I weighed 525 pounds. Four years ago I went to the hospital because I could barely breathe and felt generally unwell. I discovered this in the hospital when I had to step on a scale for the first time in about a year since I gained over 60 pounds since my last weigh-in. I had been drinking about a liter of alcohol a day for almost six months and thought it was getting really bad.
I literally felt trapped in all of its forms. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom to wipe myself off without a tool at this point. I couldn’t tie my shoes while standing. I couldn’t stand to stand for more than 20 minutes. I couldn’t breathe, smell, or move without some kind of pain. The only thing I felt could ease the pain was numb myself with alcohol and fill my stomach. That’s all I could feel at that point at only 27 years old.
I can’t identify a single moment when I knew I had to change my life, but one of them heard a parent tell his son that he would end up like me at a restaurant. I couldn’t say a word. I just got up and left.
The second moment was when my dad and a family friend donated $ 6,000 to help me get a gastric tube. They did it because they said they believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself at the time. After my gastric sleeve in 2018, I lost 200 pounds in a year and a half. He dropped very quickly after the surgery, but with the alcohol consumption he climbed back up to 350 pounds.
The third moment I was driving home after throwing alcohol in the sink the night before. I told myself that I wanted to change my life. The next day while driving I was in a car accident and did not end up in a police car. I have been sober for over a year and a half from opiates and alcohol.
My last and probably greatest moment was seeing my niece being born into this world. I knew if I didn’t band together, I would never see her high school graduation someday. I knew that if I didn’t change my ways, I would never be able to see her grow up. I needed to be that light for her.
The first and biggest change I made was to get sober. Before, I couldn’t even think clearly or have the energy to do anything. Even doing a small amount of it, I realized it would kill my motivation and the discipline I needed. It was when I stopped drinking and started getting up early, exercising, that I lost the rest in another year.
My dad met someone who runs a recovery program in Costa Rica who was once addicted to heroin. One day, he decided to lock himself in his room for a year and study meditation and yoga to get sober. As the Covid continued and I had been unemployed for a while, I decided to follow in its footsteps.
For months, I studied yoga, meditated for hours a day, and learned to listen to my body again. I also really learned the Wim Hof ââMethod, where I learned deep breathing and ice baths. I would do 10 cycles of deep breathing per day and up to 3 ice baths per day.
I told people I was training, but had no idea what I was training for. I walked four to five hours a day even when I weighed over 300 pounds. I meditated three hours a day for months and studied all about physics and how to integrate it into the functioning of the body. I had no schedule for when I needed to exercise, no schedule for when I needed to eat, no meal plan, just focusing on everything else. I noticed that my stress was disappearing.
I trained alone for much of my trip. At first, I was hiking with my dad, which really helped me hold myself accountable. I also felt that since I had received the gift of being sober, I had to give it my all.
I have been out for a hike every day as my goal is to cross the whole of Arizona state on foot. This happened because years ago when I was over 400 pounds I wanted to climb Everest one day (and I still do), so I lowered my expectations by crossing the state of Arizona (more realistic, you know?). The only thing that motivated me back then was that not everyone was giving up on me. I have family who gave me everything so that I am still here today. They pushed me, motivated me, trained me, supported me and still do. I am nothing without my support.
Now my workout routine is a bit chaotic these days because I work out a lot more. I get up at 4:30 a.m. and exercise at 5 or 5:30 a.m., usually going on a long hike. Then at noon I do yoga at the office, in the evening I like to take another hike or go to the gym and go to the sauna. On the weekends I like to go in an ice bath for about 30 minutes.
For weight lifting, I only do floor exercises. I’m more like a kid about how I exercise by doing whatever my body wants to do. I’ll be going for an hour so usually when I’m done I hit all the muscle groups a few times.
I noticed the most gains in my legs. Since I have enjoyed hiking my calves and legs have definitely grown as a result. But I can see my muscles for the first time in my life.
I love to run and honestly anytime I get a chance to run or sprint I will take it. I went from 525 pounds and was barely walking now faster than I’ve ever been. I will run unnecessarily in situations where it is not necessary just because I can!
Back then, my average meals were almost always the wrong choices. I would get out of work and go to Taco Bell, have two meals where I have four to five tacos, a Nacho Supreme, a large pepsi, a two liter of Dr. Pepper to take home, a Crunchwrap Supreme and a liter of whiskey.
Now I still eat Taco Bell every now and then, but it’s just a taco and an order of fries. I really watch my portion sizes, drink protein shakes and a multivitamin. Rather than three big meals, I eat a small meal every few hours because I notice that if I am eating myself, my body seems to function better during the day.
I now weigh 175 pounds and this time I feel so different from other times I’ve lost weight. I’ve done every diet you can think of and failed them all. The truth is, my goals for why I lost weight in the first place weren’t correct. I wanted to have something that I didn’t have before when I lost weight. This time around, I feel like I lost weight so that I could be myself for the first time in my life. Be comfortable with who I am.
During this transformation, I hid myself from everyone. I deleted my Facebook and didn’t really share my story with anyone. I still find it hard to share my story because even though I lost weight, my 525 pound mentality hasn’t gone away. My mom and dad are very proud of the work I have done. They are very happy to see me move and live healthily. My ID photo is always transforming me and I get all kinds of compliments on how I looked compared to before. I am always so shy even though I try to play with it when I get compliments.
I’ve had an amazing job as a weight loss counselor and that’s always the coolest thing to say. I feel like I can really begin to explore who I am for the first time. I’m trying new things that I’ve never felt comfortable trying before, and I’m trying to be social for the first time in five years. I still don’t feel ready to date someone, but I feel like I now know what it’s like to have someone flirt with you. I still honestly fight the same things I did when I was growing up. I now feel that I can have more room to breathe and that makes all the difference in life.
My next goal is to learn how to be sociable, to learn how to date myself and to continue my training. I hope to start climbing in the next few months and change my diet to a more vegan diet. I’m all for my health today and never want to go back to the old days again. I don’t think I’ll ever be done with my progress. I still have a lot of mountains to climb before I can rest.
For those looking to be healthier, it doesn’t matter where you start or how you do it. It takes time, so don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t hit certain goals right away. Reach the goals you can achieve and eventually the seemingly impossible goals will become achievable.
And for goodness sake, don’t overdo the exercise. Most people don’t know how to train properly in the gym and go much harder than they should, end up injuring themselves and losing motivation to continue. Your health journey is a marathon, so take your time and try to understand how your body works. Once you figure it out, literally all in life becomes more manageable. Be patient, persevere, peace will come when you are ready.
My weight gain was a representation of all the pain I have felt in my 31 years on this earth. I can run and not get out of breath, I sold my car and bought a bike because I love being able to move my body. The world is beautiful and I am so happy to feel this beauty. The way the sun hits my skin, the way my heart pumps blood to every inch of my body. I’m addicted to it.
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