Hi, my name is George Shaw.
In the fall of 2011, the “perfect storm” was brewing. I remember the moment I knew I needed to change like it was yesterday. My weight was pushing 300 lbs and none of my clothes fit except for the 40” waist jeans that I had just bought. My annual medical physical was coming up and I knew my cholesterol was too high, and I had already been taking hypertension medication since high school. Every morning I woke up feeling sluggish achy, especially in my knees and back. There were days when I walked with a limp, and I had been talking with an orthopedic surgeon about knee replacements. Thankfully, there was one upside: I liked to lift weights and had kept it up for many years. The Shenandoah Fire Department has an outstanding fitness facility that I used.
I am a Firefighter/EMT for the City of Shenandoah, and it was pretty embarrassing when I “outgrew” my gear. A set of fire turnout gear costs around $1,500 and mine no longer fit. I had to use old fire gear from the gear closet since there were no sizes that fit me. But my moment of clarity didn’t come from the gear, or the scale, or my yearly physical, it came from seeing my medical patients. Many times when called to a scene, I was helping people who were badly out of shape… right where I was headed. It became very clear to me that fit people rarely need an ambulance.
DISCOVERING COMPLETE NUTRITION
Going into the fall, my eating habits were much worse than I had ever realized, and my knowledge of nutrition was pitiful. When I was looking for sources of information on nutrition, I stumbled across Complete Nutrition® sponsored athlete Brenda Herrod.
Though at the time we did not know each other directly, she grew up in a small town nearby and we had many friends in common. Brenda was genuine and eager to give advice, which included proper nutrition, exercise, and Complete Nutrition® supplements. In December 2011, following Brenda’s advice, my wife Angie and I stopped into the Legacy store in Omaha, NE. While discussing products with Nic Luhrs, a former consultant at Legacy, my ears picked up on something totally different: my wife was talking to a female consultant, Betsy, not about nutrition but about fire trucks! Pierce, Toyne, American LeFrance, Seagraves… these are all fire truck brands. How did this nutrition consultant know so much about them? It turns out that Betsy’s father was a fire truck sales rep and had just sold my department a new tanker. We left the store with Titan, V-Core protein, Buzzerk, and two new trusted friends, Betsy and Nic. Every month, Angie and I would call Legacy for our monthly order of supplements, occasionally switching products based on our progress. We were hooked.
Jumping ahead to the summer of 2012, my knowledge of nutrition had improved. No more gas station breakfasts, no more fast food, and no more Chinese Buffet after my workouts. My eating choices and portion sizes were under control, which would have been impossible without the Titan and V-Core. Finding a quality protein that was easy to work into my diet and fit into my calorie allotment was pivotal. I also loved the “tingle” feeling from the pre-workouts, which was a huge motivator to power through my workouts. As the weight came off, I felt better all around and decided to add running to my workouts.
REACHING MY GOALS
As 2013 approached, I reached a monumental mile stone: the scale read 199 pounds. When the scale first read 200 lbs, it was 1985 and I was a freshman in high school. I had never been back below that point until that moment.
Now it is late summer 2013 and so much has happened! Looking back, losing the weight was much easier than I would have ever expected. I know I should be happy and proud of the changes I have made, but I am more often disappointed that I ever let myself get so far out of shape. My pants size is now 32, so one problem still remains: none of my clothes fit! At my last cholesterol check, it was at 132 and my doctor was happy. My blood pressure is perfectly within healthy range and I no longer take medication. I have even quit using allergy meds! Now the only pills I take are my Complete Nutrition® multivitamins. I still use V-Core protein as well as two pre-workouts: Blitzz and Taze-3. Overall, it is fair to say that I lost more than 85 lbs and have maintained it for eight months. Complete Nutrition®, along with a much needed lifestyle change, saved my life. I no longer see the ambulance coming for me.
HERE’S WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT NUTRITION AND EXERCISE
When I was first starting to lose weight and get healthy, I spent a lot of time online, reading about nutrition and looking at different people’s theories. I came across a link to My Fitness Pal on the Complete Nutrition® website and found that tracking my nutrition and workouts kept me accountable.
During my weight loss journey I was very dedicated to tracking my nutrition and keeping my calorie intake under control. I was also able to see what percentages of carbs, fats, and protein made up my daily food intake. Looking back, I’m sure I held myself to eating less than what most nutritionists would have recommended, but an “all in” approach with big changes from my previous eating habits seemed to work.
My studies on nutrition opened my eyes to many healthy food choices that I had never considered before and started working into my meals: sweet potatoes, avocados, and coconut oil, just to name a few. I didn’t give up any foods that I truly loved, I just made them fit into my daily and weekly calorie goals. Those goals ranged from 1800 to 2200 calories per day. I realized that before I started getting healthy, I often consumed that many calories in one meal!
Even when my weight was at its highest, I was going to the gym regularly. Being overweight led to sore knees and back, so those excuses dictated my lifting regimen. My upper body was strong, but I neglected my legs and all cardio. As I lost weight, I found that I was able to start working in new lifts and eventually do cardio. As a firefighter/EMT, I see all too often how cardiovascular health alters people’s lives. The treadmill, elliptical, and even jogs outside—which for so long had been impossible—became things I looked forward to doing. Barbell squats and deadlifts helped me target the bigger muscle groups of the body. I found that around the 8- to 12-week range I would become bored with a workout program. Thankfully, there are many options out there with all kinds of variety. My main guidelines for maintaining lean mass were: keep it fresh, be safe, lift heavy weights, and eat plenty of protein.
Maintaining the results of my weight loss effort is important to me. Becoming complacent and falling back into old habits just can’t happen. I am trying different Complete Nutrition® products like Prime Drive and the ReFirm line and to see what helps me. I view weight maintenance as a lifelong effort that must evolve over time.