In June 2014, Matt Herrick spent 10 days in the hospital and wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything — not even water. The diagnosis? Gallstone-induced pancreatitis, otherwise known as inflammation of the pancreas. "I was fed via IV," says Herrick, 31, who weighed 300 pounds at this point. "My family wouldn't even visit me ... my sister said, 'You did this to yourself.' I had hit rock bottom." Herrick's doctor told him he could either die in his 30s or completely change everything about the way he lived; his eating habits and lack of exercise were killing him.
He needed to adopt two new habits immediately: to STOP ordering Chinese takeout and START cooking. "Binge eating was my coping tool," says Herrick, who would regularly treat himself to Toaster Strudel sundaes and Jack In The Box. He needed to swap frozen and processed foods for unprocessed, whole ingredients, and learn nutrition 101: "If I personally cooked a Jumbo Jack or a Big Mac, I would be horrified about the ingredients in them," Herrick says. "By insisting that I only eat what I cooked myself, I put several steps between me and food. Food was no longer easily accessible."
Herrick learned how to make salads, roast chicken, cedar plank salmon, risotto, and stir fries. "Cooking became a soothing ritual. It helped me fight my formerly sedentary lifestyle," he says. "Between cooking and cleaning, I was up and moving a lot more." The best part? He never felt deprived — the food he cooked was satisfying, and a reward for his daily exercise.
To keep himself accountable, Herrick developed a "throughput equation": If I eat pie, I must work out. If I don't want to work out, I cannot eat sweets for that day." His sweet tooth has been the hardest part about sticking to his weight-loss plan. But also — understanding what made him reach for unhealthy food in the first place."I hated myself. I loathed the man I saw in the mirror," Herrick says. "I thought I was ugly and unlovable."
So far, Herrick has lost more than 100 pounds on his weight-loss journey, weighing in at 196. His best advice for someone dealing with a similar challenge is to figure out why you eat: nutrition? for fun? for coping? Says Herrick: "Commit to getting to the bottom of your unhappiness because YOU DESERVE IT."
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