Senior lost weight, gained interest in fitness and nutrition

May 4, 2017 — by Apoorv Kwatra and Trevor Leung

“Wow! What happened to you?”

It was August of 2015, and students were returning from summer break to pick up their schedules for the new year. Many had grown taller over the summer, but when classmates saw William Chen, they were shocked.

Going into the summer, which was the end of his sophomore year, William had packed 232 pounds onto his 5-foot-9-inch frame. Over the summer, he lost 57 pounds, entering his junior year at a trim 175 pounds.

“It was hard, but I had the mindset that I wasn’t going to quit, because I always used to quit when I was losing weight and I was tired of being fat,” William said.

William started by researching how to lose weight on the internet. He found it to be a challenge, though, because there was so much information.

“I was overwhelmed with so much contradictory information that I couldn’t decide what was fact and what was fiction,” William said.

Because William wasn’t familiar with how to reduce weight in a healthy fashion, he ended up taking in less than 1,000 calories per day, and even just 500 calories on other days, eating what he normally ate like fast food and whatever his mom would buy or make for him but just in a lot smaller amounts.

Frustrated with this extreme approach, William decided to ask his friend senior Max Vo for help. Max taught him the importance of a balanced diet and that eating healthier was, according to William, “a lifestyle change important not only for losing weight but also for keeping it off,” rather than just the short-term solution he initially believed it to be.

William also watched a lot of YouTube videos about nutrition to figure out how to eat healthily. He began eating foods like rice, chicken, steak, vegetables, fat free Greek yogurt, egg white and protein shakes.

Even with his newfound knowledge of nutrition, William struggled through his weight loss. He remembers being really hungry at night and having cravings, but pushing through with his motto “go big or go home.”

After the first two weeks, William had lost a lot of confidence that he would be able to lose weight, and he was already on the verge of quitting because he didn’t notice any difference. Soon, though, his older sister told him, “You look skinnier.”

“That was when I realized, ‘OK, this is working, now I’ve got to keep it up,’” William said.

At first, William set his goals small because people told him that even if he worked hard, he could only lose 20 pounds. William wanted to prove them wrong, so he used this as motivation for his workouts. William ran 1.5 miles to the school daily to do circuit workouts centered around high intensity interval training (HIIT).

But lacking self-confidence and fearing embarrassment, he did his workouts late at night, after 9 p.m., so nobody would see him.

He did 100 bleacher runs per day in addition to numerous sets and repetitions of Russian twists, burpees, leg raises, sprints and mountain climbers.

“I was capable of so much more than I thought,” William said. “Now I can’t even do some of the exercises at the intensity that I did, so to think that I did that is still impressive for me.”

Another way of motivating himself during workouts was to pretend he was somebody that a team depended on.

“I would often pretend I was a Marine or a volunteer firefighter doing those workouts, because fearing disappointing others motivated me more than fearing disappointing myself,” William said.

Since that summer, William has learned much more about nutrition and working out. Since his initial weight loss, he has put on 15 pounds of muscle through consistent training and now stands at 190 lbs at 5’10.”

He said he spends hours watching videos and reading about fitness, nutrition, diet, anatomy and the physiology of the body.

William is even considering studying physiology as his major in college because of his interest in fitness and nutrition, something he never would have imagined previously.

While William faced a lot of challenges during his weight loss crusade, he stayed true to his belief to give 100 percent.

“My guiding philosophy was that if I was going to lose weight — I was gonna go all the way,” William said.


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