In 2017, Andrew Crockett was in Egypt hiking up Mount Sinai. At the time, he weighed 350 pounds, but didn’t think his weight was really a problem. After all, he was still traveling and visiting all the world's famous sights. But as he trekked up the mountain, he started to struggle. About halfway up, he thought riding a camel would help and he approached someone to rent one.
“He kind of looked at me and looked at the camel and was like, ‘No, this is a small camel.’ And it was then when I realized I was literally the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Crockett, 38 of Fort Worth, Texas, told TODAY. “One thing I had always wanted to do is Mount Sinai. We’ve read about Moses, study Moses. All that time I wanted to go to the top of Mount Sinai and I was so close. But yet I could not make it.”
After returning from his trip, he had dinner with his friend, Elizabeth, and he mentioned wanting weight-loss surgery. She encouraged him to join a gym and watch what he ate and in October 2017, he joined the Colleyville, Texas Life Time gym and WW (formerly Weight Watchers). At first he felt overwhelmed but managed that by focusing on making small changes.
“It was challenging because I was trying to do something I was not good at. That’s simply exhausting because we don’t want to do what we’re not good at,” he said. “I just focused on what I could do today. I can turn on the treadmill.”
He’d walk on the treadmill for as long as he could. He started taking the stairs whenever possible as another way to incorporate more movement and build his endurance.
“I focused on what I could do. Today it was 15 minutes. Monday we’re going to do 15 minutes,” Crockett explained. “Maybe next week, I will do one day of 20 minutes.”
Even with his small changes he quickly dropped weight. Since October 2017, Crockett lost 185 pounds to weigh 165 pounds. He hit a plateau when he had lost 145 pounds and thought he was in maintenance. But after a career change last year, he noticed that he started losing weight again.
“I thought I had gone as far as I could. I was like, ‘Wait, I’m not done still, I still have some weight to lose and I can do it,’” he said.
He would like to lose six more pounds by the end of October to be at a weight of 159 pounds, a goal he will have reached in four years. While it felt tough at times to lose so much weight, he said changing his mindset helped him succeed.
“I didn’t focus on what I was giving up,” Crockett explained. “I found myself focusing on what I was going to say ‘yes’ to. I’m going to say ‘yes’ to five more minutes on the treadmill … I’m saying, ‘yes’ to one more block as I walk the dog. I’m saying, ‘yes’ to this one healthy meal today.”
Crockett shares advice for others hoping to adopt healthy habits.
1. Find 'encouragers and experts.'
Elizabeth encouraged Crockett to work out and even joined him in WW and that made weight loss feel easier. Then he started exercising with a trainer at the gym. Having support helped him create healthy habits and stick with them.
“You need to surround yourself with encouragers and experts,” he said. “I had a lot to learn if I really wanted to make it a permanent change.”
2. Know your value.
Often people think losing weight makes them better or happier. While Crockett knows weight loss might improve health, he also knows he was just as valuable at his highest weight. Understanding this helped him grapple with weight gain, plateaus and challenges in other areas of his life.
“Losing weight did not increase my value,” he said. “When we lose weight we think things will get so much better. But you’re correlating weight with words and that’s not how it works. So therefore any gain (I had), I never saw a loss of value.”
3. Find your motivation.
Crockett loves to travel and he wanted to lose weight to improve how he travels.
“I wanted to make it back up to the top of the mountain,” he said. “I have traveled the world, seeing the world, because I looked back I was only seeing it. I wanted to experience it. And there’s a difference between the two.”