Robak uses silent sports to turn life around
BY EDITOR RICH PALZEWIC
This is the new motto of 2019 Bay Port High School graduate Josh Robak, now a student at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College in Green Bay, but it wasn’t always this way.
When the former football player stepped on the scale late last February and saw the number 313, he knew things needed to change or he was risking his health, life and happiness.
“I was scared,” said the 5-foot-8 Robak. “I made every excuse in the book. My knees and back hurt, I had high blood pressure and was tired all the time. When I went from 295 pounds about a year ago to 313 a few months later, I knew I needed to make a change.”
In the past seven months, Robak has made a drastic improvement to his current weight of 183 pounds – a weight loss of 130 pounds.
One-hundred-thirty pounds is the equivalent of the weight of about 15 gallons of water.
“I attribute my weight loss to quitting soda, drinking more water, not making excuses, eating better, logging my calories and working out faithfully,” Robak said. “I don’t blame anybody but myself. I’d sneak food into my room and eat late at night – it was a bad habit and a tough time in my life.”
The last day the future-firefighter hopeful drank a soda was March 4.
“I’m sure I’ll have a soda again in my life, but I want to reach one year without it,” said Robak. “I used to drink four sodas a day. It worries me a little bit introducing small things back into my diet, but I know I’ll never go back to the way I was. It was out of hand.”
Robak’s eating habits were an issue before, too.
“At Bay Port, if you want to eat healthy, there are a lot of good options,” he said. “But I didn’t choose the healthy foods – I’d go for the cookies and brownies and pile things on my plate. I used to come home from football practice and eat a whole pizza for a snack and then eat dinner two hours later – I was probably eating 4,000 calories a day. When I started this journey last February, I wouldn’t eat lunch at school – I’d pack my own from home.”
He said one of the biggest keys to his weight loss has been logging his food.
“Most people don’t realize how much they are eating until they start measuring their serving sizes and logging what they eat,” he said. “I set a limit of 1,800 calories. It didn’t matter what time of the day it was, when I reached 1,800 calories, I quit eating for the day – it was hard. I’d be lying in bed hungry and wanted to eat something. I was a terrible late-night snacker – fruit snacks, a piece of leftover pizza or an ice-cream treat. If I ate a lifesaver, I logged it.”
Robak didn’t go to a doctor before he started his lifestyle change, but he took it slow at the beginning.
“To be moving at 313 pounds, I was terribly out of shape,” he said. “I began with the elliptical, but I had to take a lot of breaks – I was huffing and puffing a lot. Then I started walking the track and using the exercise bike. As I got in better shape, I started running a little and walking with an incline. When the weather got nicer, I started biking outside. I used to hate going to the gym, but now I love it. I used to run a mile in 13 minutes, but the other day I ran it in 6:45.”
Robak said if he wasn’t at his daily calorie limit, once the sun went down, he quit eating for the day.
He also drank water by the case every week.
“The most I lost in one week was 8 pounds,” Robak said. “The first 50 pounds went quick because I was adjusting my whole diet. The weight since has come off slower, but now I can do more and I’m not as tired. When I hit 250, I really started to feel better. I don’t weigh myself every day – I feel weighing yourself every day sets you up for failure. From day to day, you can weigh a few pounds more or less. I weigh myself every other week.”
Robak has begun to lift more weights to replace some of the muscle he lost and doesn’t beat himself up if he puts bad food into his mouth on occasion.
“I’ll have a cheat day here and there, but I’m not stringing consecutive bad days of eating together,” he said. “I’ll have a burger once in a while and some ice cream with my family. It’s not realistic to eat perfectly all the time. I don’t freak out when I have a cheat day.”
A big motivator for Robak has been seeing his friends he graduated with or family members he hasn’t seen for months.
“When I saw one of my buddies I graduated with at the first Bay Port football game this year, he didn’t recognize me,” said Robak. “My high school football coach and doctor are proud of me, too.”
Robak’s ultimate goal is to get into the 180-pound range.
He was a bigger kid growing up, but fortunately, he had good friends around him who didn’t tease/bully him.
“Looking back at pictures from the fourth and fifth grade, I could see I was carrying too much weight,” he said. “It didn’t bother me I was bigger. I like to look back at past pictures because it’s shown me how much work I’ve put in.”
Robak began playing tackle football when he entered middle school but had a mishap early on in his career.
“Due to the weight restrictions, I couldn’t play Pop Warner football,” he said. “I joined my seventh-grade year, but on the first day of practice, I broke my wrist.”
What is Robak’s advice to others who might be struggling with their weight?
“Get to the gym, put your headphones in and get moving,” he said. “Don’t care what others think. Everyone has excuses, so don’t make them. Everything will come with the right mindset and time.”