This is Steven from Honolulu Hawaii and what an incredible story! Steven lost an incredible 109 pounds but it was a very tough journey, mainly because of his complete lack of a good support system. Unfortunately Steven’s story is not unique because we live in a society where obesity is “normal”. At 242 pounds, Steven’s health was in danger and he had an epiphany and decided to make a change. He made amazing progress but started faltering because of the negative feedback and bad advice from well meaning but ignorant people. In a society where the norm is to be fat, many don’t understand what “healthy” is. Hearing the advice of overweight people who know nothing about nutrition or fitness can be incredibly demoralizing. But Steven prevailed! For those of you in a similar situation, there is an easier way! Find an online support group like theAskScooby forum. The friendly people there can be your support group, they have been there and they know what you are up against. Steven, congratulations on your amazing transformation!

Steven writes:

“Hey Scooby!

My name is Steven Seril. I am a store-clerk at a snack/candy store, a tutor at a middle school, and currently a Junior at the University of Hawaii. I wanted to share my experiences with you and all of your fans, followers, and even critics–to show them that the core of your philosophy toward burning fat and gaining muscle worked for me and can work for others out there!

I thought long and hard about how I would begin this testimonial, seeing as how this weight-loss journey has been quite that: a journey with many epic stories, a lot of bearing, and overall a lot to talk about. I played defensive-line in high school, already a heavy-set person who got even heavier to play the position and pursue getting on a collegiate team. My size made me a competitor (that is, of course, until my high blood-pressure and chronic inflammation held me out of games), but did little else for me. I never went to prom, never had a girlfriend, was rejected more times than my pride will allow me to admit.

No girl would date me or have anything to do with a fat, ugly slob like me. I thought I was trapped in this body. I envied the quarterbacks and other “skill” players who were always leaner and more “ripped” than I ever thought I could be. They got the girls, of course–all of them, until there were none left. I thought it was all genetics and that I was cursed to be the way I was forever. That’s why I love it that Scooby takes a stance against talk of genetics and “body-typing” (I recently took a type-test that labeled me ridiculously as an “Ecto-Mesomorph” which is a total contradiction!). Just hearing him say, “you already HAVE abs, if you didn’t your torso would be limp as cooked spaghetti,” filled me with inspiration that there was something beautiful under all that fat, and that with hard work and dedication, I could see them someday.

However, at that time long ago in high school, I didn’t know any better and thought it was completely normal for a person to eat junk food and a soda for every meal of the day. I went through a terrible phase in which I thought it was normal for an athlete to consume nothing but Gatorade throughout the day, obviously showing my ignorance on what the body actually needs (complex carbs, proteins, good fats, nutrients etc.) and how commercialization of foods truly ruins people. Looking back now, I’m so mad at myself for letting it come to that and so mad at others for letting me get that bad–encouraging me even. I’ve learned that I needed to control MYSELF and not leave my health in the hands of cooks, restaurant businesses, and big-businesses like McDonalds who are really only concerned with taste and addicting me as a customer.

Having already been warned of my obesity and risk of diabetes (which runs in the family) by a doctor, I weighed myself at one of those 25-cent machines at the mall–just kicked off my shoes and put my things down, leaving only my barely-fitting button-down, dress-pants and socks. I weighed 242 lbs.. Yet even that didn’t stop me. I still ate my hamburgers and my hamburger steaks with eggs and gravy (something we call a “loco moco”). To top it off, in my mixed-culture we eat a ton of insulin-spiking refined white-rice and load our plates with meat marinated with everything–every hydrogenated oil and conceivable sauce–in existence, with no care about what it does to our health.

Then something happened on December 27, 2009. Mark that date. I spent a day with a girl I had once been very much in love with. We went to the museum to see the dinosaur exhibit. I FELT like a dinosaur: all gross & sweaty from being out of shape, and of course my physical shape itself was evident When I saw the pictures of myself and her, it broke my heart. She was still so beautiful and I was… a fat mess. I was so ashamed of how bad it had gotten. Even my 2XL shirt could not disguise the flabs any more. I knew it was time for a change.

I knew it was time to lose some weight, but I didn’t how or where to begin. I watched some videos of people overcomplicating everything when I came across Scooby’s videos. Scooby had a very simple approach–the big “secret” that no one else seemed to want to admit: eat less and exercise more! His approach was so simple and so practical, it was hard to believe that it would actually work. The first thing I did was calculate and become aware of my BMR and TDEE (the amount of calories one expends at rest and through daily activity) as Scooby recommended. I then made it my goal to eat 500 calories below my TDEE, thus incorporating his “eat less” approach. I avoided McDonalds and just about every other fast-food place (here in Hawaii, L & L Drive-In is killing our bodies).

Scooby also recommended steady-state cardio as a way to lower body-fat as opposed to doing loads of situps and leg-raises (which don’t burn fat, but just make the muscles in the area bigger). This “steady-state” approach was ideal for me (as opposed to high-intensity interval training training or HIIT) because of all the leg injuries I had playing high school football–making any kind of explosive movements with my legs impractical or even dangerous. My goal became to walk 10,000 steps with a pedometer every day (about 4.5 miles) and it worked out beautifully. I even went on a series of VERY long walks/hikes around various beautiful locations on this Hawaiian Island. You can follow some of my walking adventures through my photo albums at Thirdly, I incorporated weight-lifting, utilizing the very same lifts and techniques (i.e. how many reps, how often, and how quickly/slowly each rep is to be performed, etc.). All I had were dumbbells, my body-weight, and my creativity. To this day, his lifts are the staples of my current split routine (which I find more practical in terms of increasing focus than whole-body routines with compound movements), and I find his voice and helpful advice playing out in my head constantly. I was filled with the motivation and determination to change my life, and was ultimately committed to my goals and the promise that I would eventually achieve the body I wanted.

I first noticed my abs by the end of July, with the first few two rows of the four-pack popping out in the mirror one magical morning. I couldn’t believe it at first, but there they were. ^^ I immediately posted poor pictures of them from my camera-phone on Myspace and later Facebook, and stunned some of my friends. I was very excited and happy. Then things got difficult as I plateaued and got stuck with a four-pack for a very long time. I started to lose hope, I started listening to people talking about “bulking” and “cutting” (which Scooby warned against).

Worst of all: I started listening to negative people. People stopped being kind and supportive about my progress after a while–once I was nearing the six-pack. I would go to the bank and the overweight teller would tell me I was a “twig” and the “little disappearing boy.” I would go to the gas station and the clerk would tell me I was “too skinny” and that I needed “eat more,” accusing me ignorantly of “only drinking water, you don’t eat, yeah?” There was another obese lady at Subway who loved to say the same kinds of things: “this is all you eat, twig-boy, isn’t it?” SO untrue and SO hurtful. I haven’t been to that bank, to that gas station, or to Subway in a very long time. Avoiding negative and discouraging people is a big part of stress management. I had an old church friend accuse me of being “anorexic” and another of being a “crash-dieter”. This shows the misconceptions people have. Family members were coming to me with the most hurtful comments of them all (yet interestingly enough the one who was watching everything I ate and many of my workouts never said a thing). I felt very hurt. If they could just see under my clothes, they’d know there was something I worked very hard for underneath, then maybe… But the lighting and shape of the house was not a good place to shoot, I had no good camera outside of my cellphone, I was too shy to take my shirt off in public (I still had stretch-marks, loose-skin, and uneven skin-tone from the changes). How could I share? And besides, a lot of people simply don’t understand what abs are. They think that they’re a product of drug-use, substance abuse, or steroids. They think that I don’t eat, or that I’m doing 1,000 crunches, or just genetically gifted and magically now have them. I’ve come to the conclusion that most of these people have no idea what they’re talking about and that I can’t let it get me down again.

In my darkest hour, when I did let it get to me, I DID go on a bulking diet accompanied with overtraining which put me in the hospital. I learned to not let anyone–no “experts” or critics rule what I do. Scooby’s advice about keeping motivated and accountable by reaching out to others online–as well as his advice on how one must be “in tune” and know their own body and it’s limits–was a big part of that. I’ve begun showing off my progress online more, sharing what I do with people (so much of which comes from Scooby), and taking pride in this body that God gave me to take care of. And hey! I’ve just about got the six-pack look, will be looking to improve even more over the Summer, and also: I’m now signed as a model! I’m very happy and thankful to share my progress today, and hope it inspires others!