Not long ago, Kevin Griffin worked in Wichita, Kansas. In fact, his office wasn’t far from Diets In Review. We knew Kevin was a great guy, but we didn’t realize what an internal struggle he was having with his weight. When he decided to take a job in Tokyo, Japan, we said goodbye and wished him well. When we learned what a positive impact the Japanese culture was having on him, including a 110 pound weight loss in just one year, and a total loss of 160 pounds, we knew he needed to be our next True Weight Loss Story. Recently we spoke to Kevin about his 6,000 mile journey.
Looking back, Kevin said he realizes his weight gain in college was directly related to a sedentary lifestyle, late night eating and soda addiction. “It seems impossible now, but when I think back, I must have been drinking 30–40 ounces of soda a day,” he explained. “Cheap summer drinks and open soda fountains made it something I didn’t even think twice about.” He knew he needed to lose weight but the initial thought was too intimidating, that is until a friend started to shed pounds. ” My friend was very much like me, and seeing his results really made me believe it was possible. . . I knew I had to do it, and my friend showed me it really could happen,” Kevin said. By counting calories, he noticed an encouraging 40 pound reduction, then, he received a job offer that would take him out of the United States and out of his comfort zone.
Kevin describes the biggest change in his weight loss, “It occurred when I moved to Japan. I had loved the culture since I was a child, and in college I learned the language—it’s very beautiful!—which allowed me to find work programming in Tokyo.” In Japan, Kevin quickly realized that giving up old habits would be easy, because he didn’t have a choice. He discovered less processed foods, more fresh options and smaller portions. At first he said his cuisine options were a bit of a “challenge” but soon he learned to love the food and even, “developed a taste for many things I never could have imagined,” including miso soup and fish.
As a programmer in the Midwest, Kevin sat in a car to get to work, then sat at his desk for 8-9 hours, followed by more sitting to get home. In Japan, although he joined a gym that he visits at lunch, exercise was already built into his routine during the daily commute. “Tokyo is a city of walking. Having lived in Wichita my whole life, I had no idea how much I depended on driving,” he remarked. “You can get anywhere in Tokyo with a simple combination of train and foot. Walking enhanced my mood.”
The biggest struggle for Kevin has been giving up soda, and he admits he’s had several setbacks in that area. But instead of focusing on the back-sliding, he tries to celebrate the milestones, including a smaller wardrobe. “I used to have to shop at a plus-sized store in the US, and now I can buy off-the-shelf clothes in Japan!” With only 10 pounds to go until he reaches his goal weight, Kevin says now his priority is to maintain the loss, while slowly building muscle.
We asked Kevin what advice he would give to others who are trying to lose weight. “Try to find others who can be really honest about their journey,” he replied. “A lot of people hide their setbacks, struggles, and doubts. It’s refreshing to hear someone who’s lost a lot of weight, binged on cake, gained back a dozen pounds, felt awful, but in the end still kept going and made progress. No one is perfect.”
Kevin also wanted to remind people that it’s not all or nothing, “Do something simple and let yourself enjoy the results. Once you can see them, you’ll feel motivated to keep doing more. Once you get there, you’re on the way.”