I’ve talked about my health and weight in the past. For those of you who don’t know about my journey I’ll catch you up. I’ve always been overweight. In 2016 I became incredibly ill and almost doubled my weight in a year. My weight has always been a point of contention for others. I’ve been called every name that you can call an overweight person both online and in real life. I’ve been openly mocked by my boss during meetings, a co-worker took my photograph, printed it out, labeled it #fatf$$k and passed it around the office, a ‘friend’ went out of his way to call me Grimmace as often as possible – even had a Grimmace folder for all of my emails, won’t even get started on the slew of hate online, etc.
My entire life I’ve always been overweight. Things went from bad to worse in 2016 where I gained over 100lbs (7 stone for my UK friends) in less than a year. My weight gain was intense. It was a combination of stress, terrible sleep, garbage diet and a series of misdiagnoses from various doctors coupled with medications that made me even more ill. At this point I was well over 400lbs. I couldn’t weigh myself at home.
Doctors blamed everything on my weight. Everything. All of my problems. An ER nurse openly scolded me and blamed me for all of my problems in front of the rest of the ER. So, tired of being shrugged off, I lost the weight. Not going to lie, the entire process sucked. Still does. I’ll explain more on that later.
I wasn’t going to write this article, sharing so much about my life has really opened myself up to some disturbing emails and comments. Truly spiteful, nasty things. I WISH that I had found someone to read or listen to while I lost the weight. I share my story in the hopes that it helps someone else. All of this being said I recently received an email regarding weight loss and the loss of a loved one due to weight related issues. I’ll never forget this email. To the person who wrote me, thank you. Thank you for sharing such a tough story. I can’t even imagine your strife and I’m terribly sorry for your loss.
So here we are, how I lost over 200lbs (14 stone for my UK friends) with cruising as a major component of the process:
The Real Killer.
My weight loss journey starts with what I believe to be my real killer. I’m talking about stress and stress management. I have a super stressful life. Yeah I’m sure some are rolling their eyes saying, I’d love to have a “stressful life” with all of that cruising you’re doing. OK OK. Fair enough. Perception is reality. The truth is my days start anywhere between 2am and 4am. I workout every day. Then I work. I don’t mean for our YouTube channel, that’s quite literally my second job. I’m talking about our business. We own and run our own video production company, we create tools and other helpful things for people who create video. This takes up the majority of my day. I’ll create content of some kind including products, promotional videos, training, social posts, etc. Until at least late evening and then move on to Sean and Stef. Our business has been attacked and stolen from since it’s inception. I don’t mean people are copying us, I mean the big dogs openly steal our products and resell them.
They do whatever they can to harm us, slow us down or kill us outright. A competitor offered to buy our company last year and the offer was so lopsided and so terrible that when we refused they threw a major temper tantrum and convinced other companies to pull our products off of their shelves. Our business, much like our travel channel, is just Stefanie and myself. No employees, no farm of editors, just us. There are people out in the world right this very second that seek us personal, professional and physical harm. I’m not crying at you, this is my life. My life is all the stress. I can’t get a single doctor in the state of Florida to admit that stress is / was killing me. That too caused more stress. Regardless of what the doctors said, Stefanie and I set off on a mission to research how I can lose a massive amount of weight.
I’m going to start with sleep. After waking up in the ER multiple times we finally had enough. Stef is a mad researcher, she can research anything. She helped me learn that sleep is crucial. Your healing and weight loss depends on quality sleep and levels of sleep. For those of us who do not reach complete sleep, we don’t heal as fast or lose weight as often. Here I am, crazy overweight and I sleep in 20 – 30 minute increments. I’m in a never ending loop. Sleep became a big deal for me. Stef said she watched my breathing stop while I was sleeping on a number of occasions. We figured out that in order to sleep I needed to maintain and reduce stress. I’m super stressed out, all the time. I live in extreme pain and deal with overwhelming anxiety daily. I sleep better now, not great but better. Enough to help me lose weight and that’s what matters. A combination of white noise and aroma therapy has significantly changed how I sleep. I’ve gone from sleeping 30 minutes at a time to 4-5 hours at a time. That’s a huge leap for me. Not great but getting better. This is a constant work in progress.
The Rowing Machine from Hell / Exercise Is The Effing Worst
This thing. It has caused me pain, sleepless nights and overall dread. I hate this thing. That being said it’s the main source of my exercise and I’ve gone from a 58″ waist to a 36″ waist.
As of writing this blog post I drink 12 – 16 24oz tumblers of water every single day. Yep I average about 3 gallons (approx 384 fl oz) of water per day. I usually put a no sugar, low cal / no cal fruit punch or lemonade in it, because I have an aversion to almost everything including water. Yeah, I got problems. In addition to my intake it should be noted that I don’t drink alcohol unless I’m on a ship. Cutting back on the drinks absolutely helped me shed the weight. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good drink but it’s truly empty calories.
I slowly, over a long period of time, have really started looking at what I eat. Garbage in, garbage out as they say. By modifying my food I started losing weight without exercise. I stopped eating so much fat, sugar and salt. Once I did that I dropped a bunch of weight. The biggest change is that I found amazing Vegan food that maintains my energy level and protein level. After 80 days of no meat I dropped an additional 40lbs (2+ stone for my UK friends).
OK about the meat thing. I should say I don’t actively eat meat, at home I’m 100% meat free. On ships I tend to float between carnivore and herbivore based on the offerings. There are some cruise lines who heat up tofu and slap it on a plate. BLAM Vegan. Umm. Not food, man. Not food. The more I travel the less meat I eat, I’m hoping to do our next ship, the Harmony of the Seas completely meat free.
It’s also important to note that my weight loss only works because I don’t deny myself. Denial can lead to binging / overeating. If I want something, I’ll have it. Just not every day. I typically don’t indulge but there are times where I’ll grab a taco or pizza or whatever. So if I wake up and feel like eating a doughnut, it’s doughnut time people. Lately I find myself wanting something and I talk myself out of it. I really don’t want more time on the rower.
And now for the glue that keeps it all together, travel. More specifically, Cruising. Cruising has changed my life. I should say that Cruising SAVED my life.
On ships I eat better, I sleep better, my anxiety is instantly lowered from a 10 to a 2, my general demeanor is better. I’m WAAAAAY more physically active. (We walked 16.5 miles in Amsterdam, for example)
There’s something about the Sea that is calming, healing and magic. One of the many reasons we travel is to broaden the mind and calm the spirit. It’s also imperative to travel, experience other people and cultures to help me realize that everyone has something. Everyone has problems. Not everyone works 100 hour weeks, and they’re OK, and most importantly there were people who actively reduced stress daily.
Cruising forced me to seek out joy. It’s impossible to feel terrible on a ship and I thought it was a fluke. With every ship I sail I expected my joy, happiness and overall health to diminish. The strange thing? It didn’t.
Truth be told if I could work at sea I would. Sadly I recently applied for my dream job at Carnival and was rejected. I received a form letter that said they felt that I didn’t have the necessary video experience and / or some other reason. Oh well. If any lines out there want a super passionate storyteller, my bags are packed.
There’s another aspect to our cruise journeys that forever changed my life. We found something called Fathom. It’s a whole ordeal and we wrote about it here. Basically Fathom is giving back to the communities that we sail to and enjoy. We discovered Fathom on our Carnival Horizon trip. This trip drilled straight into my soul. THIS, THIS wonderful experience not only brought me joy but started rebuilding my faith in humanity and refueled my spirit.
These Fathom experiences started to change me. I felt real joy spending time with the amazing people in San Juan, Grand Turk and the Dominican Republic. Helping others and sharing stories led to less stress, more joy and subsequent weight loss.
Cruising Unites Us
Another reason that Cruising changed me, the crew that we were spending time with. Spending time with them, talking to them about life about relationships, working on a ship, family back home etc. We’ve met some truly remarkable people in our last 120 days at sea. Each one of these fantastic humans has impacted me. I’ll never forget them. We stay in touch with them to this very day.
Spending time and making friends with people all over the world has led to real joy and real healing. I truly love and adore these remarkable humans.
The Giant Suckfest That is Weight Loss
OK so I broke down my weight loss for you. It was all about stress and intake. Lowering my stress allowed my body to sleep, which allowed my body to heal and lose weight. Changing my diet allowed me to give my body a chance to break my toxic food cycle. Working out helped burn the fat and water helped me flush out all the bad stuff. It’s really that simple. The problem is that you have to do this every day. Initially, working out takes 2-3 weeks minimum to show signs. This is why people don’t do it, it’s super easy to give up and to find other uses for your time. The same with food consumption, you won’t notice the effects of your food for days or weeks.
My Weight Loss Routine: Sleep. Food. Exercise. Water. Maintain Stress. Repeat. Every Single Day.
Is my pain gone? What about my stress? How do I feel? I must feel amazing, right? Nope to all of these things. I very much live in excruciating pain. My workload remains the same. My stress is high but manageable. Working out still sucks. I still get hate online and I’m still called fat or fat related insults by many people. I sleep infinitely better but I do not wake up singing. (That’s Stef all the way lol)
One thing I will share, that will most certainly come back to me in the nastiest way, is that there is a psychological aspect to weight loss. When I first started really losing big weight I stopped looking at myself in the mirror or on camera. I didn’t recognize myself and for a long long time I lost my identity. I became very depressed and thought I was broken. I was getting compliments from everyone and didn’t know how to handle it.
Everyone told me how happy I should be. I didn’t feel happy. I always saw the person everyone mocked. In many cases I still do. It’s very difficult for me to edit Sean and Stef when all I see and hear are the thousands of terrible comments and the hundreds of photos of what I used to look like. Internally I may always be ‘Grimmace’ or fat f$$k or whatever else that has been slung my way. That’s something I work on daily.
You Can Do This
I recommend losing weight for anyone who wants to. I’m just saying it isn’t a miracle or anything. It’s daily work and may or may not solve your problems. If you’re up for it, you can do it. You don’t need a crazy fad diet or some random thing where all you eat is the fuzz on peaches or nothing but sauerkraut, etc. It’s not like that. I eat and drink what I want to and have lost well over 200lbs.
It’s all about what you put in your body and actively working out your body and mind. Truly. With all of my ailments and problems nobody thought I could do it, not even me. If you want to lose weight, you absolutely can. And to anyone who needs additional support, I’m here for you.
I’d like take a second and give a special shout out to three people who helped save and change my life. First off I’d like to thank Sanna the Vegan Cruiser. She’s helped me make better food choices both on and off ships. I follow her blog and if you’re even remotely interested in dropping meat, you should too.
Second, my long time friend Derek. He’s an inspiration. He knows what he did and I’m forever grateful. Check him out here:
And lastly, but most importantly, I’d like to thank Stef. She’s my rock, my best friend, my soulmate, my world. She has put up with every aspect of me and my weight loss journey. She’s supported me every step of the weigh (get it? Sorry, I’m tired and delirious). Seriously Stefanie I can’t thank you enough for always supporting me and taking care of me. I’m a mess and you’re an angel. Thank you.
Sean Mullen is a Travel Filmmaker, Vlogger, VFX Artist, Brand Ambassador and the CEO & Lead Designer of Rampant Design, Inc. He is a 3 Time Emmy Award Winner and former Walt Disney World Monorail Pilot. Sean is married to the AMAZING Stef IRL. See Sean’s Portfolio here: http://seanmullen.media