Al Harvey, 32, from St. Louis, Missouri, has lost more than 50 pounds—and he isn’t done yet. He shares with Men’s Health the changes he made to lean down and get fit.
I first decided I had to make some changes to my lifestyle when I went to my biannual doctor appointment to check on my blood pressure. I knew I had gained weight during the pandemic, having gone from 250 pounds to 317 pounds at my heaviest, but in my own mind I wasn’t being slowed down and thought I was managing. I had no idea what it was doing to my insides, though. My doctor told me I had two choices: either start meds or change my lifestyle. I’ve always told myself that if I ever had any health issue that only require hard work to fix, then I’ll do what’s needed. I asked my doctor to give me until my next appointment to get myself together and he agreed. If nothing changed by that time, meds were happening.
The first thing I did was start to get myself into the correct mindset. I watched tons of YouTube videos on proper eating and exercise; I needed to know what has worked for others. Listening to people’s stories and seeing their results was exactly what I needed to get going. Thankfully, I have a super supportive wife who wasn’t going to let me go into this alone. I couldn’t have done any of this without her: she went through the whole process with me, and ended up getting back down to her high school weight.
I knew I’d had some great success in the past with cutting carbs and intermittent fasting, so I went with that plan again. I decided to do OMAD (one meal a day) with a calorie range of 1,500-1,800 per day and drinking only water. When it came to the fitness side, I decided to try Apple Fitness+. Home workouts have never appealed to me, but it was better than what I was currently doing. I’ve since taken a huge liking to cycling (my favorite trainer is Tyrell Désean). I cycle every other day, and on alternating days I’m either doing a strength, core or Pilates workout. The plan was to work out for 30 minutes every day. I figured if I made my training short but intense, I could work out more often.
After each workout I would record a video and post it to my Instagram page to hold myself accountable. I told myself if I didn’t take on the day properly then I wouldn’t post a video. Over 100 days later, there has yet to be a day when I’ve not posted a video. Having the ritual of making the videos was my initial motivation, but now I’m running off nothing but discipline and consistency and it feels amazing!
The biggest difference I’ve noticed is in my face and my arms: My face has gotten slimmer and I look younger. My arms are more defined, and you can see my biceps really clearly now.
The most difficult part of this process, outside of getting started, was replacing a majority of my wardrobe. I got in this weird state where my older clothes were starting to just swallow me and anything in the next size down was just shy of fitting. I sucked it up and stayed in my older clothes for about a month, tucking and pinning things so I could look presentable. Now I’m excited to start wearing clothes that fit properly. I also feel so much more confident in taking pictures of myself now. With the weight, I never really felt that any pictures actually looked like me. I would fake smiles, or avoid photos altogether, because I just wasn’t comfortable with what I saw. Now I can’t stop smiling! I never want to lose this feeling.
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I have lost a total of 56 pounds so far, but I haven’t made it to my initial goal weight of 220 pounds so I’m still working on that, with 23 pounds to go. My ultimate goal is to get down to 190 pounds; I haven’t seen “1” as the first number on the scale in many years. Plus, I want visible abs!
My advice for anybody who wants to lose weight is simple. Take that initial motivation and GO! Then keep going. Nobody can do this for you, nobody can want this for you as much as you do.
Discipline and consistency are the keys. Even on the days you don’t feel like doing the hard work, do it anyway. Those days might not feel like they’re helping, but every single step you take towards your goal counts.
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