Weight-Loss Win is an original Yahoo series that shares the inspiring stories of people who have shed pounds healthfully.
Gunner is 25, 6’1” tall, and currently weighs 194 pounds. In 2016, after being overweight and lethargic for most of his life, he realized he needed to change his lifestyle to accomplish his goals. This is the story of his weight-loss journey.
The turning point
I honestly don’t remember a time when I wasn’t overweight. But during the summer before fourth grade, I suffered a concussion that left me bedridden for a few months. That kick-started a lethargic and rather unenergetic lifestyle at a very young age. At the age of 24, I decided that it was time to make the change. I wanted to live a healthier and more active life, and I finally realized that the only way to make that happen was if I got up and put in the effort.
I tackled it head-on with a very persistent mindset, which is 90 percent of the battle. I got a gym membership and walked three to four miles a day for six days a week and lost about 40 pounds in the first four months that way. While I didn’t use a specific plan, I have two parents who are about as physically perfect as you could be, so I had plenty of tricks and tips from them to help me along the way.
I began to count calories and made it a point to keep my calorie intake as low as I could in a healthy way. I stopped drinking soda after drinking it regularly for years, and I completely cut out most forms of carbs, aside from rice. My rules were no sugar, no bread, and no salt. I only ate chicken, rice, eggs, protein shake mixes, and salad.
It worked wonders for awhile, but I hit a plateau and knew it was time to shake things up, so I became a vegetarian. I replaced the protein I was getting from chicken and the occasional steak with asparagus and black beans. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan chili recipes that are packed full of flavor, so things like that kept me on track diet-wise. I mixed the vegetarian lifestyle with intermittent fasting, which really sped up my weight loss.
It was around this time that I added actual weight training into my exercise regimen. I stuck to high repetitions of low weights as to burn fat and build lean muscle.
It took four or five months before I could see any visual changes, but at that point I had never felt better. I was beginning to feel an actual sense of happiness that I truly never thought I would get to experience. Once I saw and felt the changes, there was not a single thing that could have made me give up.
Music was my biggest source of motivation. I’m a drummer, and music is the first thing I ever loved. There were a few people who I looked to for motivation as well: my parents who have strived and pushed all sorts of boundaries to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and Rob and Dana Linn Bailey over at Flag Nor Fail.
Physically, I felt like a new person. I was wearing size large shirts after wearing 2XL and 3XL shirts for years. My waist size dropped from a 46 to a 32. Because of those things, on top of just being healthy for the first time in my life, I was much happier.
I started to feel comfortable in my own skin, but my issues with insecurity were definitely still lingering. Sometimes I still see the old Gunner when I look into the mirror, but that’s just because that’s what I’ve seen for most of my life up until this point. I think that’s just one more thing that I’ll have to overcome, and I have no doubt that I will.
The thing that surprises me most is that no one recognizes me anymore! I’ve always remembered everyone that I grew up with, so when I see them in public I usually go say hello and it always takes them a few minutes to recognize me. It’s really strange, but I consider it a good thing. I am a completely different person, so why should they remember me?
While my diet is still pretty strict, I have made a few changes. I’ve added a limited amount of meat now that my main focus isn’t losing weight. I eat mostly eggs, bananas, rice, salad, and protein shakes, and I rarely spend more than $40 a week on food. So now when you hear someone say, “I would start eating healthy, but it’s so expensive,” you’ll know that it’s not true!
Most weeks I’m in the gym every day except for Sunday. I start every workout with a nice stretch and mile walk/run. Then I’ll usually hit two muscle groups that complement each other like chest and triceps or back and biceps. I also try to finish my workout with another mile walk just to cool down. I have a loose routine, but I like to change up which specific exercises I do each day. It keeps exercise from feeling monotonous, and your body thrives off of change.
Photo: Courtesy Gunner Cargile
I lost my weight really fast, so I still have some excess skin in certain areas of my body. Tightening that up has been by far my biggest struggle. I’m getting there, and I can definitely tell that what I’m doing is working. It’s just a slow process, but I guess anything worth having takes time to achieve.
I’m always sure to stay conscious of what I eat. If you let yourself slip once, chances are you’ll let yourself slip again. That’s how I have to think about it, otherwise I’d definitely eat the nearest chocolate chip cookie. I also make it a point to stay busy; I don’t like to give myself too much time to sit around the house.
Getting enough sleep is definitely a key factor to staying healthy as well. Without a proper night’s rest, your body isn’t going to digest properly, and your muscles won’t heal as fast either.
What keeps me going now is the fact that I haven’t made it to where I want to be. That not only applies to my body and fitness goals, but also to my dreams of music. I’m meant to make a life and a living out of playing music, and I have to stay healthy and focused if I want to make that happen. One of my favorite artists once said, “I’m afraid that I’m going to die before I get where I’m going.” While some things are out of my control, I’m going to continue to destroy every obstacle between where I am and where I want to be.
Before you take that overwhelmingly rewarding leap, you have to know that you’re probably not going to see visible changes right away. You have to push through that if you want to see the real magic happen.
Speaking of magic, you do not need a cabinet full of supplements or “miracle pills” to make these changes. The only things you need are a clear mindset, patience, and consistency. Keep your goals in the front of your mind and be relentless.
Follow Gunner’s continued progress on Instagram @gunnercargile.
All photos courtesy of Gunner Cargile.
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