Upon returning from his mission, Jason Hamilton stepped on a scale in his house, but he couldn’t figure out his actual weight. He weighed more than the 350-pound limit on the scale. Hamilton decided it was time to take control of his life.
“I definitely felt like I needed to control my food and not let it control me,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton, an English major from Columbia, Md., estimates he weighed about 360 pounds upon returning from his mission. After losing about 150 pounds, Hamilton is down to 210 pounds and said he feels better than ever. Hamilton’s accomplishments have brought him physical benefits in terms of improved health, but it has also improved his life from social and emotional standpoints.
Two years ago, Hamilton decided he wanted to lose 180 pounds. He and his family talked, and together Hamilton and his family started a new diet plan.
“For the past two years I’ve eaten nothing but raw foods,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton and his family abstain from all cooked and processed foods. This initially presented a problem for Hamilton, as cooking is one of his passions. Over time, he got used to the diet and cooked food didn’t appeal to him anymore. He frequently cooks all types of food for his roommates, friends and members of his ward, but he never eats any of the finished product.
“There came a point when eating cooked food was just a thing I didn’t do,” Hamilton said. “I’m not sure when I got to the point … but there came a point when it just didn’t tempt me anymore.”
At times Hamilton has been unsatisfied with his rate of weight loss. When he feels like he needs to shake things up, he switches to an all-juice diet for a short period of time. He drinks a variety of fruit and vegetable juices and frequents places like Jamba Juice.
“I’m probably one of Jamba Juice’s greatest customers,” he said.
Over the course of the last two years, Hamilton has steadily integrated exercise into his life to accompany his diet. Initially, he would just make sure to walk 2-5 miles each day. Now Hamilton is integrating pushups and situps into his exercise plan. Hamilton has felt an increased confidence in social situations and generally feels happier. He has also found a way to be grateful for random things he can do which he couldn’t do previously. These things include holding his arms at his side, crossing his legs, sprinting up stairs without much effort and putting on a shirt with the word “medium” on the tag.
“It’s really the little things you start to notice the most,” he said.
Socially, Hamilton feels more comfortable approaching people and being himself. He even now finds himself dancing at parties, something he previously would never do.
Stewart Morley, a biochemistry major from Stillwater, Minn., began living with Hamilton nearly eight months ago. Despite being on such a rigid diet, Morley said Hamilton has remained steadfast to his policy of eating only raw foods.
“I never once saw him break that commitment,” Morley said.
Melissa Tingey, a psychology major, has been friends with Hamilton for about a year. Tingey is extremely impressed with the results of Hamilton’s diet and change of lifestyle over the last year.
“It’s really incredible,” she said. “Since I met him he’s really slimmed down quite a bit.”
Hamilton wants to reach out to those who are trying to lose weight and he offered some advice. He said finding someone to whom you can be accountable is crucial in making this sort of a life change.
“My biggest advice would be to get some kind of support,” he said. “Somebody who is in a similar situation who can work with you so you can kind of push off of each other. That’s probably the only reason I’ve been able to keep it up.”
While Hamilton understood the health benefits he would receive from undergoing this sort of a transformation, he said much of his motivation came from another factor.
“Obviously health is a motivation, looking better is a motivation, but probably one of the biggest motivations that I’ve had … was the fact that one day I do want to get married,” Hamilton said. “I feel like whoever she is, she deserves better from me than what I was.”