Local man loses 140 lbs. in a year
Published 1:37 pm Monday, May 14, 2018
By Beth Alston
AMERICUS — Timothy Perry said he was just tired of trying and still failing. That was in 2015, when he topped out at 400 pounds. By May 2018, he had lost 140 pounds in one year.
Perry was working with the alternative school program in 2016, in the Dougherty County school system at the time, commuting daily, and grabbing fast food. “I was experiencing dizzy spells; my eyes were red,” he said. The school nurse was called in and she tested his blood sugar. It read 360 (90 to 110 is average). He said he also had places underneath his arms where the skin had broken, due to his weight.
He was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes when he weighed 395 pounds. He knew he was in trouble because he had experienced problems with breathing and sleeping. He admits that his eating habits — sugars and starches — and lack of exercise were the causes, and he gained a lot of weight around his mid-section. He said he was consuming between 6,000 and 7,000 calories daily at that time. “I was addicted to food like a drug,” he said. He said he ate from the time he awakened each day until bedtime, and even middle-of-the-night eating.
On Jan. 1, 2017, he went to the track at Boone Park and tried to walk, barely making one lap. He said he was so winded he thought he was dying, so he gave up.
But not for good.
A little over a year ago, he decided to do something about it.
Perry, 31, sat down with the Americus Times-Recorder to tell his story, which has grown to be the story of his hometown, and of people who have encouraged him in his endeavor.
On May 1, 2017, Perry said he weighed in at 389 pounds. His doctor told him that he if failed to lose weight, his life was at risk.
That’s when Perry decided to do the work, walk the walk, lose the weight, and because he posted his intentions on social media, to be held accountable.
It worked, but it was far from easy.
Perry returned to the track, and made it one lap, then two, and pushed himself to keep going. “Before I knew it, I did about five laps,” he said. Although extremely sore he continued doing the track for an entire week. The week after, he visited Southwest Georgia Fitness and joined. “The gym staff was so encouraging and open-hearted,” he said. “No one judged me. I knew I was a big guy. No one needed to tell me that.”
That first day at the gym, he did about 10 minutes on the treadmill. “They kept telling me to come back and keep going,” he said. And he did. He went every day for the entire month of May 2017, except Sundays. He steadily built up his time on the treadmill, to 30 minutes, then to 45 minutes. In June, he was up to 60 minutes, and burning over 1,000 calories, he said.
Perry said after experiencing the benefits of exercise, his eating habits changed. He started drinking one gallon of water daily, something he still does. He eats mostly boneless and skinless chicken breasts and thighs, either grilled, air-fried or baked. He also includes vegetables. He eats one meal daily, between 5 and 6 p.m., he said. He has snacks during the day such as organic popcorn or pretzels or crackers, to maintain his blood sugar level. But the only meal he has is the one in late afternoon.
Perry’s diet and exercise regimen worked so well that his physician took him off his diabetic meds in November 2017. He was advised to continue what he was doing but to keep a check on his blood sugar level. He proudly stated that since November, it has not been higher than the 90s.
Perry, now at 249 pounds, is a walking encyclopedia of nutrition facts. He can tell you exactly how many calories are in most any food or beverage. He also knows what it takes to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle. “It’s not going to happen in two weeks,” he said. “It takes time … It took me four months to see results. I saw it in my face area first.” He gets on the scale only once weekly, he said.
He keeps on keeping on. His goal is to be weigh 180 pounds. He is 5’9” tall and has gone from a size 6X shirt to a size XL. He went from a 68-inch pants size to a 42. “Now when I look in the mirror, I don’t even know who I am,” he said, adding that he has been “blessed not to have any loose skin.”
Perry said he was not obese as a child although he loved sweets, and only started gaining weight when he was 26. He was working in the home care industry at the time and traveled continuously, and ate continuously, he said. “I wasn’t thinking about my health and my weight at that time,” he said. He neither smoked or drank alcohol, and still doesn’t.
While Perry admits that he had tried a few times before to lose weight, he would give up by the third day. “But this time was different,” he said. “It was either lose the weight or die.” That’s when he decided to use social media to post everything about his weight-loss journey. “When you put stuff on social media, you’re pretty much putting your life out there. You’re being watched now … ” he added.
He had 1,117 followers on Instagram at the time of this interview. He said they are teens from different states, Texas, New York, and other places. One 15-year-old whose been watching Perry’s journey has told him that he is tired of being called fat and being bullied, and he now is following Perry’s lead about nutrition and exercise and has started losing weight and people have stopped picking on him. Perry said he even hears the topic of suicide among people who are overweight and feeling hopeless. “That pushed me,” he said. “That stigma of being fat led me to to this day right here. If it wasn’t for the people in … Americus that saw me, [some of them] were negative but the majority were positive.” He said many followers would tell him about their own struggles with weight, heart disease, etc., and looked to him as an example. “I’m not a Hollywood star; I’m here in this town … The support came from the community.”
So, not only were Perry’s friends and family very supportive, but he found it in his followers as well. He said whenever he went into a store in Americus, someone would have an encouraging or congratulatory word for him. So, in turn, he is encouraging others not to give up, and it’s working for some of them.
“I smile because I saved my life; I saved myself,” Perry said, and smiling is something he shares with others willingly. “This has been a personal journey for me.”
A typical day for Perry starts at 5 a.m. when he goes to the gym. He eats nothing from 8 p.m. until noon the following day, which equates to 16 hours of fasting. He will drink coffee around 10 a.m. to suppress his appetite, he said.
He has the one big meal at 5 or 6 p.m. He never eats after 8 p.m. but will continue to drink water and/or a zero-calorie beverage. He said if gets upset during the daytime, he will return to the gym again instead of eating, as had been his habit. “And I stay at the gym until I’m happy … Food was my drug. I went to food when I was being judged by others and people were making fun … food comforted me, but no more.”
On Sundays, he said he cheats but stays within his calorie count, 1,500 per day. He says sometimes he has to make himself eat more to maintain that caloric level. He said he an app on his iPhone that tells him the content (fat, sodium sugar, etc.) in what he eats, so he never has to guess.
Perry’s resting heart rate now is 68, after being in the 90s a year ago. His blood pressure is around 94/65 now. “There were days I had to lay in the bed because I was so sick,” he said, adding that he regurgitated frequently when he first altered his eating habits, as his body was purging itself of toxins.
It’s a new day for Timothy Perry, and he fully intends to reach his goal of 180 pounds. With a busy lifestyle — he is keyboardist for three different churches — his exercise routine and shopping for and preparing his healthy meals, there’s no doubt he will not meet that goal.
And when he feels low, he can always visit the gym, go for walk or help sometime else in their weight-loss journey. Timothy Perry is an inspiration.