When Ryan Tracey was playing with his toddler in 2019, he suddenly thought long into the future when he might have grandkids — and felt immediately he might not be around to play with them.
“At that point, I was 354 pounds and I got out of breath so quickly,” he recalls. “Here I was, only 30, trying to climb a few steps on the playground to be with my son, and I couldn’t.”
Being forced to sit on a park bench and watch his son, Arthur, play by himself did more than make Tracey feel defeated. It gave him a fresh sense of purpose.
Looking back at his childhood, the Manchester, U.K. resident didn’t have an athletic build as a kid but was still able to do most of what he wanted. Before his wedding in 2014, he decided to cut back on calories in an effort to lose some weight for the big day. That worked well enough for him to lose 30 pounds, showing him weight loss was possible. Unfortunately, he ended up gaining back the weight and then putting on more. By the time Arthur was 2 years old, Tracey was wearing pants he says were “10 trouser sizes” from where he wanted to be.
“In my head, I wasn’t as big as I really was,” he says. “But I’d look at photos and compare myself to what I used to be, and I could see the truth. If I kept on that path of steadily gaining weight, I didn’t see how I would live long enough to be a grandad, and that bothered me.”
He decided to start eating fewer calories again, but this time, in a much more strategic way. When he started using MyFitnessPal, he logged every single food item he put into his mouth and learned how much he was truly eating. He then put his goal weight into the app and aimed to lose one pound per week — but it ended up coming off faster than that.
Within five months, Tracey had lost about 60 pounds and the difference was so notable, it motivated him to add exercise to his new routine. Not only did he look and feel better, but says he had much more energy, especially noticing his ability to go up and down the three floors of his home with greater ease.
Then, the holidays hit. He stopped tracking for a few weeks … and then a couple months. This caused the weight to creep back, and he regained 30 pounds in two months. But he didn’t stay on the decline for too long. In January 2020, he went back to logging his food in MyFitnessPal and started running, determined he’d outrun the setback. The birth of his daughter around the same time cemented this resolution.
Tracey kept his calories in check (while allowing himself an occasional cheat day) and consistently dropped weight until he was down to 204, just a mere 4 pounds from his goal weight. The holidays came around again, and he was determined not to repeat his missteps from the previous year. Unfortunately, the 2020 holiday season came with a whole different type of setback: He and his wife contracted COVID-19.
“That wiped us both out for a month,” he says. “But it also made me think. Research has suggested that people with obesity are at higher risk of having severe symptoms, and even death, from COVID. So, if I had been at my heaviest when I got sick, who knows what would have happened? I was already having trouble breathing then, so I can’t imagine what it would have been like to get a terrible respiratory virus like that.”
With both of them recovered, and Tracey, now 33 and down those 10 trouser sizes, the family is hoping to plan a vacation soon — and, he says, it will have plenty of time for playing.
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