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Bayar Bayarsekhan, 31, has been overweight most of his life, weighing in at 500 pounds at his heaviest.
“People often ask: When you weigh 300, didn’t you want to stop? How did this happen? I just pursued this lifestyle,” he told TODAY in a segment that aired May 18. “You know how people say, ‘Healthy body, mind. Proper?” Well, once my body became unhealthy, my mind became unhealthy too. I stopped thinking about strengthening goals because all I could think about was fighting my body. How do I make the pain go away in my back, legs, hips, and legs.”
Weight has had a significant impact on his physical and mental health.
“I often got so tired that I had to sit down to wash the dishes or tell my kids I was too tired to play with them. At Disney World, I had to rent a wheelchair.” “My wife encouraged me to start walking, but I lost interest in doing anything… I didn’t want to go outside because my feet would hurt.”
By the time Bayersaikhan hit 500 pounds, he wasn’t feeling well at all. “I was always tired. I had to nap every day and nap for two hours in the middle of the day. This is what prompted him to finally see a doctor.
In January 2021, a doctor’s visit opened his eyes to the truth about his health. “I was diagnosed with severe high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes. Then he told me I was only expected to live into my forties.”
Bayarsaikhan was also diagnosed with severe sleep apnea. “I learned that in a normal, healthy person, sleep apnea can occur maybe about 1-3 times in one hour, but I was having 135 times in one hour. Pretty much it seemed like I was asleep, but my body was never asleep. And that’s why I was exhausted all day. It was like I had never slept.”
After the appointment, he started using a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine and was on 5-6 medications.
“I had two kids. I was still young. I was 29 at the time. And my doctor told me my life expectancy was like the mid-40s.” I thought I didn’t want to die in my 40s. I want to see my children grow up. I want grandchildren.”
That was the moment when Bayarsaikhan decided that he needed to make a serious change in his lifestyle. “My doctor asked me, ‘Can you really do that? It’s a long journey. And I said, ‘I have to do this.'”
him too. Today, he’s lost nearly half of his body weight, losing 230 pounds in two years. Here’s how he did it.
Control his addiction to sugar
Bayarsaikhan knew he needed to change his diet. He ate fast food 2-3 times a week and many sugary foods like cookies.
“The biggest challenge for me was that I am addicted to sugar, and I usually consume 200 grams of sugar a day,” he said. “I used to drink Coca-Cola every day or Red Bull… My addiction to sugar was high. So I had to cut that out and I went through sugar withdrawal. That was really hard and I had to train my brain.”
While Bayarsikhan made changes to his eating habits, he did not think of it as a diet.
“I don’t like the word diet. Doctors will tell me I need to diet and I don’t like it. Dieting isn’t sustainable in the long run. Instead of cutting out foods, focus on portion control,” he said.
“Over time I learned how to control portions, which slowly eliminated my cravings,” he said. “I still eat everything, but I’ve learned to control it. It took me a year and a half to learn how to control it. I still crave (soda), but I’ll only have it if I really want it. And when I do have it, I’ll take a couple of sips and throw it away. Same with The chips. I’d eat a handful, not the whole bag. So, I’ve learned to kill the cravings.”
Facilitation in fitness
For the first eight months, Bayarsekhan focused on cardio. “I started doing sports, but my heart is weak, so I didn’t do weightlifting right away,” he said. He found activities like walking and running boring, but stuck with them to improve cardiovascular fitness.
“I would wear a watch that tracked my heart rate and as soon as it got to a good level, I started lifting weights,” he said. “I joined Life Time (a gym) and learned a lot. It’s not about lifting, it’s about moving around and learning how to stretch to stay healthy.”
Last summer, he completed his first triathlon. “I wanted to do something I’d never done before and I Googled triathlon. I found Life Time Chicago Triathlon. It was a 9-miler,” he said. “It’s a super fast triathlon, 400-meter swim, 6-mile bike, 1.5-mile run. I scored, trained, and finished it in just over an hour.”
Just like with his diet, Bayarsekhan said he’s focused on adding fitness to his routine in a way that he can maintain in the long term, not just in the short term.
to remain accountable
He said, “My wife and children are my responsibility.”
Being able to play with his kids – an energetic 5- and 9-year-old – motivates Bayarsaikhan. “Some days I really don’t want to go to the gym or wonder why I’m torturing myself… but I do it for my kids. My kids are active and play soccer.” “I see my wife and think what a person I have dedicated my life to and I don’t want to leave her in my forties.”
The changes he saw go beyond the physical
“I’ve never felt better,” Bayarsaikhan said. “I feel like I’ve transformed into another person and people around me have noticed too.” Some of the changes he has felt from losing weight include:
- improved memory. “I feel like I can remember things like chores or remember what I was supposed to remember — I often forget what I was doing in the middle of it,” he said.
- Increase productivity at work.
- Being a better father. His healthy habits are turning against his family. “It helped me with my kids,” he said. “They refused to eat McDonald’s today which was not the case before.”
his health goals
Pyarsaikhan is currently 270 lbs and wants to reach his target weight of 250 lbs.
He’s also training for another triathlon: “I want to push myself more, so I’m signing up for a 32-miler now. It’ll be August, so I’m training now.”
Bayarsekhan said he wants to focus on his mental transformation as well. He said he “wants to become a personal trainer in the future, but focus on the mental health of people who are losing weight.” “It’s mentally difficult to get into the head game of losing weight and making the first move.”
His advice to others? “People who want to lose weight should really want to,” he said. “I’ll ask someone, ‘Do you want to lose weight?’ And they’ll say yes, but I’ll give them seven days to really think about it and ask them how bad they want it? I also ask if they have a support system.”
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