After a lifetime of literally not fitting in, Chester resident Ed Gomes decided enough was enough.
“It started in January, not really as a New Year’s resolution, just as I was lying in bed one day,” Gomes said. “I just started thinking about my family and, if I died, what was my family going to do.
“So, I just decided I had finally had enough of being overweight.”
Gomes, who has been overweight all his life, said he’d told his wife, Stephanie, of such plans several times before; he’d even told her he would lose weight before they were married.
“I was skeptical,” Stephanie Gomes said. But this time, Gomes said, it was different.
At his heaviest, Gomes, who is 5 feet, 8 inches tall, wore a 4X and weighed close to 350 pounds. As Gomes, 34, lay in bed contemplating a lifestyle change, he weighed about 315 pounds. He had “asthma really bad and he had diabetes,” his wife said.
“And it was scary for me,” she said. Gomes’ father had diabetes and ultimately lost a limb to it, she said.
The first step in putting his plan into action took place not at the gym, but in the kitchen, Gomes said.
“The very first thing I did, as soon as I woke up, I made myself breakfast, which I rarely did,” he said. “I measured everything out and I wrote everything down.
“Then, I created a blog, just so I could have public accountability.”
On his blog, dubbed Monday315 , Gomes tracks his weight loss with pictures, videos, weekly weigh-ins and body measurements, he said. When he started the blog, located at monday315.com, he had his wife take a video of him, shirtless, turning around 360 degrees.
“He was so determined that he was not going to fail this time,” Stephanie Gomes said. “I think his thinking was that he had to make it so public it would be embarrassing to fail.”
From there, he continued to count his calories. Using an online calculator, he determined how many calories he needed to eat every day to maintain his 315 pounds: Roughly 3,700 calories.
“So, I’d been eating either that or more,” he said. Gomes cut his calorie intake to less than 2,000 calories a day. At the time, the family lived right above Chester Fitness in Festival Park Plaza; Gomes did 30 minutes on an elliptical machine twice a day, six days a week, for the first couple months, Stephanie Gomes said.
“And then, when I got bored, I went running,” Gomes said.
The duo had signed up for the Monument Avenue 10K, Stephanie Gomes said, and her husband did his first run just days before the event. He finished his first 10K in an hour and 27 minutes, he said. The duo has now run more than 10 races, including a half marathon.
“I can’t wait for this year’s Monument Avenue 10K,” he said.
“This year will be awesome,” his wife added.
As the weight has come off, Gomes has experienced arguably mundane activities – shopping for clothes, for example – in a whole new way.
“I’m just now finding out what my tastes in clothes are,” he said. “When you’re a big guy,” the only shopping options are big and tall stores or Walmart, he said. Now, he can shop anywhere.
And, he and his family are having a lot more fun. On Saturday, they planned to go to King’s Dominion.
“This will be the first time we actually get to go to a theme park and he can ride rides with me,” Stephanie Gomes said. “It’s very exciting.”
Usually, Gomes would wait while his wife and son, Nicolas, rode. At Hershey Park last year, there was a roller coaster that had “big seats” and he decided to ride, he said.
“I sat on the roller coaster and could not get the thing down,” he said, and he had to get off the ride and wait for his wife to ride it. Thinking about the experience made him want to cry, he said.
Gomes said he didn’t think there was any point where he’d thought, “I’m quitting.” He’s tried other weight loss methods before, he said, and he’s failed. This time, he didn’t cut any foods out; he just watched his calorie consumption.
“I don’t think there was any time through all that that I wanted to go back to my old lifestyle,” he said. “I don’t say I’m on a diet. I say I have a new, healthy lifestyle.”
And the family as a whole has “done a complete 180,” Stephanie Gomes said. Before, anything that the family did together involved sitting, she said. Now, they hike or rock climb together.
“I feel like we’re setting a better example for Nicolas,” she said. “We all have couch potato tendencies. … As a lifestyle, it leaves something to be desired.”
Gomes’ lifestyle change has also helped her keep off the roughly 60 pounds she lost in 2008, she said. “Exercise became something that we do as a family,” she said. “We just have a lot more fun.”
Gomes said about 20 people comment on his blog consistently, and he also shares his stories with the soldiers he teaches at Fort Lee. He plans to “redo” his blog to include a section for people who want to start losing weight, he said.
He’s only 29 pounds from reaching his goal of 170 pounds, he said. “I think phase two is going to be reducing my body fat,” he said. He’s also considering preparing for a triathlon or marathon.
Gomes said he knew he could gain the weight back, but he’s “not actually worried about it.”
“The kind of lifestyle that I live right now, it would be hard to gain it back,” he said.