May 30, 2021 Dylan

How I Lost 40lbs After My 40th Birthday

By Dylan Cherin

At the age of 43 I was the worst healthwise I had ever been in my life and I decided I had to do something about it. When I was 35 I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis and as my 40s arrived my health continued to decline. 

I eventually became bed ridden. Lots of hospital trips, lots of doctors, and eventually there I was: out of shape, miserable, and almost 300lbs. But I turned it all around. This is how.

When I was first diagnosed I wasn’t exactly sure what to do. I had a host of surgeries, a complete colonoscopy and was on a mix of strong medications. Nothing felt right and I continued to gain weight. I began to feel overmedicated and I found myself longing to live the life I had in my early 30s. 

I’m the dad of two daughters and a husband to my beautiful wife Paula. I was relatively young and I still felt like I could have a much fuller life ahead of me. I just needed to do something about it. 

I was an athlete growing up — college crew, rugby, I even lifted in my younger years. I wanted to get back to being healthy and strong, but still being sick, I had no idea where to start. I was completely atrophied, and was no longer used to any type of exercise. 

So I took to the internet and searched “how do I get stronger?”. I stumbled across the book Starting Strength and read it.  I was immediately drawn to the logic, this was a book that would show me (of all people) how to get stronger. It was a blueprint of how to use barbell lifts and to get stronger methodically. 

I’ll never forget that first time I walked into the gym. I was overweight, out of shape and had no idea what I was doing. I felt like a fish out of water. But I was determined. So I walked up to the squat rack, and I tried to emulate exactly what I had read in the book. 

I did a set of five squats as best as I could, and then I ran out of the gym. I hated that feeling. That feeling of wanting to get strong but not knowing if I was doing it right, but it was harder than I thought to get started on my own. So I went home and began looking for a coach. 

After searching online I found the closest Starting Strength Coach in my area. I called him up and a week later I was lifting. We met in his one car garage gym and began to lift, week after week, month after month — and for the first time in years I started to feel strong again. 

Each session I became a little more confident in what I was doing. My coach taught me how to do everything, right down to how to log my workouts. I was beginning to feel much better. No longer the sadness I felt when I was lying in bed from medications. No longer the weakness I felt when trying to do activities with my daughters. 

I was finally getting strong. I signed up for a competition and competed. My parents came, my family came to cheer me on. I deadlifted and squatted over 400 lbs. I won my age category. I felt better than I had in years.

Lifting weights and getting strong changed my life. So much so that I began to pursue barbell coaching as a profession. I was the first hire at The Strength Co. and have now been coaching barbell lifting for almost five years. I had gotten strong, and found a new passion to help others do the same.  But I still wanted to lose weight. And I knew that I needed to for my health. 

So there I was, in my early 40s and weighing about 260lbs. I had lost roughly 40lbs since my super sick days of inactivity but I wanted to keep losing weight. Not just for me but for my family, my wife, my daughters. But how would I lose weight? Just like with getting stronger, I wasn’t really sure where to start.

Once again it was time for me to learn, and I did have a lot to learn. I approached my weight loss the same way I did my strength training. I committed to educating myself on how to lose weight so that I could do it myself. 

I met with a nutritionist and I learned about everything that is food. What is a calorie? What is a macronutrient? Are there foods better for you than others? How does your body digest food? How is food used? Once I learned the basics I knew I needed to make a change.  I started by figuring out what I was eating. 

I logged and tracked everything, just like I had done in the gym. I gathered the data of what I was actually eating. All of it. And then I started to make course corrections.  I paid attention to the types of foods I was eating as well as the amounts, and I made sure that I was in a caloric deficit. 

I didn’t make any foods “off limits” but I knew that if I ate my cravings I would have to make up for it somewhere else. I got disciplined about it, I kept up my weight training, and the body weight began to fall off.  A few lbs here, a few lbs there until I eventually got down to my current body weight of 215.

Before you say “okay Dylan, it’s that easy? A strength coach and a nutritionist and now you’re ready for Mr Olympia?” No. No. No. Hear me out. I made the decision to get strong. Just like I made the decision to lose weight. I made a commitment to myself. I had my reasons, yours may be the same or they may be different. It doesn’t matter. 

My point to you is that if a guy who spent years in the hospital taking medications can do it. Well, so can you. Get a plan and follow through. Weight training works, start by being consistent in the gym and build some muscle. Then find out an eating plan that works for you

As our good friend Stan Efferding says “ the best diet is the one you’ll follow.” For me tracking and measuring worked well, it may be different for you. But just like in the gym, a coach can help you get started and stick to it. Just get started. 

I’m now 48 and I’m stronger and healthier than I’ve ever been. I still battle Ulcerative Colitis, it’s not something that will go away. But I’ve done everything I CAN DO to be the best version of myself, and I hope this inspires you to do the same. Find a coach. Get to the barbell. And take charge. 

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