How I lost over 130 pounds (and how you can too)

I get asked this a lot so I thought I would let everybody know.

I’ll start with recovering from being sick early in 2020. I lost about 10 pounds from not eating and being dehydrated. I viewed that as a head start to what I had known for a long time I needed to do.

I knew nothing about nutrition. All I knew was that I ate too much and ate the wrong things. Initially my goal was to just eat less and eat better. I’ve quit a lot of difficult things in my life. I used to smoke and drink when I was much younger. I quit both. The main difference from quitting those and losing weight is that you still need to eat. I think that is what makes it hard for most people. If you quit smoking, you never smoke again. If you want to quit overeating, you are still eating only you’re trying to eat less. I quit eating junk food and avoided sugar as much as I could. When I ate a meal, I just tried to eat less than I would have in the past. It was working.

I had no idea how many calories I was consuming in things like bread or flour tortillas. I used to have like 5-6 flour tortillas when we would have tacos because I don’t like overstuffed tacos. I would rather eat more with less in them than have fewer that are hard to hold. Those extra tortillas or bread were really adding up and I had no idea.

I also tried to avoid drinking calories. I used to drink a lot of sweet tea and Ale-8s. I limited myself to one Ale-8 a day, even though each one was 60% of the daily amount of sugar you need. Now I might have one a week and it actually is better. It feels like more of an occasion to have one. It is funny that when you do have something less often, it just seems more special.

As I just slowly kept reducing what I ate, two things started to change. One was I was learning that a human body doesn’t need as much food as I thought it did. I had never really been hungry in my whole life. I was confusing being hungry with the energy crashes from eating sugar and junk food. I would eat the wrong stuff, get some energy, crash, then do it all over again. Day in, day out. Once I quit doing that, I could go longer between meals without snacking. The other thing I realized was that counting calories was a lot like math and managing money, both of which I like.

It sort of became fun to count calories. I viewed each day like I had a budget of calories to spend and my goal was to spend them wisely. Since I had gone into “Fat Debt” by eating way too many calories in the past, I had to payoff that debt by having a calorie deficit.

Once I stated losing some weight, probably when I was about 230 pounds or so, I started thinking I should try to get in better shape. I had an old 50 pound barbell that I don’t even know where it came from. I started lifting it 10 times any time I walked by it. The first several times really hurt. I had done some damage to my shoulders while working at UPS when I was much younger. I always had a hard time any time I needed to keep my arms over my shoulders. I pushed through. Now I have built enough muscle that it doesn’t hurt at all now. I realized this the last time I trimmed bushes at my old house. That used to really hurt and be a miserable experience.

I also started doing push ups. Those really hurt, especially since I was doing them wrong at first. It used to be hard to even do a few of them. That was okay. I knew if I just stuck to it, it would become easier and I would be able to do more. I try to do about 50 a day now.

So I’m continuing to eat less and exercise a little more. All is well.

I sort of like having a routine and sticking to it. I hit a point where I was having no energy and it was hard to get through the afternoon. I started eating more calories earlier in the day and that helped. What I learned here is that things can change. I just thought I would keep up the original plan for the rest of my life.

Then I got into jogging, which I haven’t done in a long time. It was sort of a novelty. I had not run since I was a little kid. It was sort of fun to be able to do it. I mostly walk now. 10k steps a day minimum. Walking really helped me go from 185 down to about 169 quicker than you would think….or at least quicker than I thought. If you don’t do any other exercise, try walking. An hour a day can change your life. Just turn off the TV and do it because no show is more important than your health. You don’t have to go fast or far at first. It is just a really easy way to get into better shape. It takes no equipment or skill. It is something all of us have successfully been doing since we were toddlers.

Speaking of the rest of my life, I viewed this change in behavior and mindset to be something that wouldn’t end. I had seen several friends lose a lot of weight and then gain it back. I did not want to do that. To me, it always seemed like dieting was forcing yourself to do something you didn’t want to do for as long as it took to reach a target weight. Once that goal is achieved, it seemed to me to be the worst thing that could happen. Most people seem to quit their good behavior once they hit their target and then go right back to overeating. For that reason, I had no specific weight goal. I wanted to get as thin as I could. I figured my body would one day just find it’s ideal weight. There were milestones of course……hitting 250, then 225, then 200, then I got into things ending with 9 such as 199, 189, 179, 169. Still though there is no magic number for me where this ends. Also, my goal was to make this mindset a permanent change. I don’t want to ever view my journey as being over, just at some point switching from weight loss to maintaining my health.

Here I am over 18 months into this. I want you to know I haven’t starved myself. I haven’t done some fad dieting. I just did what we all know we should do which is use self discipline and common sense. There is no magic way to lose weight and keep it off. You just eat better and you eat less. It isn’t hard and it didn’t hurt. I never once felt like I was suffering. I ate pizza, I ate a few donuts, I ate way too much pasta. I just didn’t go crazy with those things and I would just eat a little less the next day or the day before. Remember, it is like budgeting. If your car needs new tires one month, you spend a little less on other things that month.

I sure hope this helps somebody with their journey. I cannot emphasize enough how past due this was. All that had stopped me from doing this sooner was myself. I was in denial. I was lazy. I was afraid of failing. I tell people the hardest thing was the decision to give 100%. After that it was easy. If you need to lose weight, just commit to the change. You don’t have to know everything to make the first step. You will learn along the way. Don’t view it as you are giving up anything, view it as you are gaining quality of life and a longer life. Don’t be afraid. You will have setbacks. You can’t beat yourself up. Just keep moving forward. How fast you go doesn’t matter, the direction is what matters.

What’s changed with The LEXpert?

I’m gonna try something new here. I have always used this blog to give practical advice and updates about real estate. I’ll confess, the original goal of blogging was to attract clients. The past several years, most of my work has come from people I know and have worked with before and those referred to me from those same people. I occasionally get found by great people through this blog or a dormant Youtube channel I made 10 years ago. Long story short, I have enough of a pipeline that I don’t have to chase new work. It finds me. I am also at the point in life where I can really just enjoy my work. Whether I sell 25 houses or 100 houses a year doesn’t matter to me.

I still plan on using this platform to give practical advice and my thoughts on real estate. I think since most of my readers are now people I know, I might occasionally get into a bit about what I am up to personally. This will be one of those ideas that will be great or terrible, so let me know what you all think.

Here we go!

A lot has changed with me since the beginning of COVID. I don’t think much of it really has to do with COVID, just more of a timing thing where many other things that were on the burners all came to a boil at the same time.

I had a mid life crisis. Nobody ever noticed though since I already had several sports cars, lol. My business peaked about the same time my kids were grown and didn’t need me as much as they used to. I realized that I could no longer grow my business without forming a team, which I did not want to do. I want all my clients to have me 100% of the time when they need me. I was doing as much work as a team of two or three realtors. I simply could not do any more work so I realized I had reached my peak. I sort of didn’t know what to do with myself. I had spent the past many years trying to get to where I had just arrived. All I knew how to do was climb. I wasn’t prepared to maintain. I had no other hobbies other than cars. I sort of felt bored with life really. I didn’t know what to do with myself other than just work. I went back and forth on if I should just be happy maintaining my business like it is or if I should start a second business. Well, I did something else. Instead of basing my personal feeling of success on how much time I spent working or how many houses I sold, I made the goal just enjoying the time I spent working and being with my clients. I am much happier now.

Then I had the perception of a financial crisis. I guess this is the only thing that was sort of related to COVID. I have 11 rental homes in Lexington, Winchester and Nicholasville. When the government started the eviction moratorium, I thought nobody would pay me and I would end up in a mess. I am a good planner. I try to think of every possible risk and have a plan for it. I never once entertained the idea that I might collect no rent from any house AND not be able to evict for non-payment. Fortunately I have a knack for picking the best tenants and maintaining a great relationship. I am told all the time that I am the best landlord my tenants have ever had. I respect that while I own the house, it is their home. I am responsive to fix things when they break. None of my people missed a payment. Crisis averted. What this did for me though was make me not afraid of losing it all. I learned that while losing these assets would most definitely change my life, it was not the end of the world. I might not have had as nice of a retirement or felt as financially secure had I lost the houses, but I could still be happy because ultimately happiness is a choice and it is within you. Things and money can make your life easier, but I know several people of lesser means who are some of the happiest people I know. If they can do it, then I could too. I am much freer now.

Right before the quarantine, I got really sick. No, I don’t think it was COVID. I didn’t really have any of the tell-tale symptoms but it was before any testing was available. I really just felt like I had the worst cold ever, the worst flu ever, and the worst stomach virus ever. I lost about 5-10 pounds. I had always been fat. For the past several years I would tell myself that I could lose a lot of weight if I would just commit to it. Well, this was a head start. I decided I was sick and very tired of feeling fat, being bloated all the time, and eating way too much. I started eating less and better. Then I kept eating even less and even better. Then I started exercising more. Funny thing happened, I started losing weight and feeling much better. I’ve lost close to 130 pounds now. I wish I had done it years ago. I’ve never been into looking good since I didn’t think that would ever be possible for me. I’m still not into that. What I enjoy the most is feeling better. I have energy to do things now. We tend to think weight loss is all about physical health, but I feel mentally better too. I am much thinner now.

I spent most of the quarantine walking around a very large house. It was nice when both my boys lived at home but we didn’t need all that space. Cleaning and maintaining it felt like a giant anchor to which I was chained. It was a burden. I also had so many cars that I never drove. Some were what I call “Precious cars.” Those are ones that you want to preserve and you spend more time not driving them. They are the ones that you don’t want to drive in the rain or you worry about parking safely so you end up leaving them at home to collect dust. I had worked so hard to achieve the American Dream and I didn’t really want it any more. I was realizing with the weight loss that eating less was better. It made me start to think about how having less might also be better. I sold a few cars. I still have more than I really should. We also ended up moving to a humble little home out in the country worth half what our old house was worth. It is less to maintain other than mowing. I would rather mow for hours than vacuum and trim 70 bushes. Life is much simpler now.

So, if you see me and wonder why I am much happier, much freer, much thinner and my life is much simpler, now you know!

Why Zillow is selling homes for less than they paid

This may not be news to you, but Zillow got into the business of flipping homes in several larger metro areas. They recently stopped buying houses and are selling many of their homes for less than they paid for them.

If you read headlines or even worse, get on YouTube, you could conclude that the market is about to crash and Zillow knows it.

I don’t think that is why they are selling their homes for less than they paid for most of them.

I think they overpaid for them in the first place.

Zillow’s paper thin profit margins on these flipped homes was based on their data. I have always said you can’t argue with data. Data is always correct all the time. The conclusions drawn from data is not always correct though.

Their data told them what a house should be worth and they paid that for it. While I don’t know exactly what data they use, I imagine it is very similar to the data an appraiser would use such as general condition, square footage, features, etc. Once you have all that, you look at what houses have sold within a radius or within the same neighborhood, make adjustments for hard data differences and then whatever number is at the end of the equation is their Zestimate of value.

What Artificial Intelligence and computer algorithms cannot tell you though is what a buyer will like or dislike about a house. It cannot tell you that buyers tend to not like a backyard that slopes uphill. That they usually don’t like a steep driveway. That there are two Ball Home floor plans all over the Bluegrass that are same size and one of them always sells for more money. That there can be a huge value difference between two identical floor plans within the same neighborhood just due to where it is within the neighborhood. All of these things are subjective.

Zillow has been telling the public that they don’t need a Realtor any more. All you need is them. Sounds to me like Zillow could have used the local expertise that only an experienced realtor can provide.

Here’s why you’re not winning in multiple offers

Some offers are better than others. Some people think it is all about who makes the highest offer but there are other things to take into consideration.

Here is the hierarchy of offers:

  1. Cash offer.
  2. Conventional loan with large down payment.
  3. Conventional loan with smaller down payment.
  4. FHA/VA loans. (Because the appraiser for these loan types does a minor assessment of the house. If the condition does not meet minimum standards set out for each loan type, the Seller HAS to do the repairs in order for the Buyer to get their loan.)
  5. Any loan with down payment assistance where there are two loans that have to go through two different underwriting guidelines.

Then there is the offer amount:

  1. Offer over list price.
  2. Offer list price.
  3. Offer less than list price.

Then there is the home inspection. Three choices there:

  1. No home inspection at all.
  2. Buyer does home inspection but won’t ask for repairs. Will either accept the house or walk away.
  3. Buyer wants to negotiate repairs with Seller.

Then there is the appriasal:

  1. Buyer will cover any possible gap between sale price and appraised value in cash.
  2. Buyer won’t cover any possible gap between sale price and appraised value in cash.

Then there is the Buyer’s lender:

  1. Buyer will use a local lender that every realtor knows does a good job.
  2. Buyer will use a non-local mortgage company.
  3. Buyer will use a local lender that every realtor knows preapproves any buyer with a pulse.
  4. Buyer will use a bank that begins with the letter C that everybody knows will be difficult to work with and that it is unlikely to close on time.

Then there is the closing date and when the buyer can move in the house:

  1. Buyer’s realtor found out when Sellers want to close and put that date on the offer.
  2. Buyer’s realtor doesn’t know to ask this and that it can really help make their client’s offer more attractive.

Then there are contingencies:

  1. Buyer has no contingencies.
  2. Buyer needs to close their old house first in order to buy the new one.
  3. Buyer needs to sell their old house first in order to buy the new one, meaning it currently may not be on the market and definitely doesn’t have a contract on it.

Then there are closing costs:

  1. Buyer will pay their own closing costs.
  2. Buyer needs Seller to pay some of their closing costs.
  3. Buyer needs Seller to pay all of their closing costs.

What are your numbers? If you are a 1 in all of these, go out and make your offer. You will probably get the house. If you are a low number in any of these, best of luck. If you are the bottom of any or all of these, then you are wasting your time. Sorry, but you are. You are not going to get a house making an offer less than list price with an FHA loan, wanting to negotiate repairs with the Seller and needing to close or sell your old house.

Now that you know all the things a listing realtor is thinking about when they process all the offers, do what you can to make your offer the best it can possibly be. If you are doing a conventional loan and think you are going up against other cash offers, maybe waive the home inspection and offer to let the seller stay in the house briefly after the closing? If you have to close on your old house to buy, make your offer the highest one they get (realize too that moving twice costs money and it might be cheaper to pay the most for a house verses paying to move twice, live somewhere temporarily and then look for another house which will have gone up in value while you wait.)

When I moved in 2012, I was up against 4 other offers. Two of them were cash. That was unheard of back then but common today. I knew I couldn’t compete with cash so I went a little over the list price, waived the home inspection and offered to let the Sellers rent back from me until they found their new house. This was appealing to them since they had not found their new house yet.

I’m really proud of this…….

“If I have to send them postcards and basketball schedules to make them remember me, then I don’t deserve to be remembered.”

That’s what I told my broker back in 2005 as a new agent when I was told what I needed to do to keep people coming back and referring people to me. Back then about the only way to keep up with your clients was to send postcards reminding them of time changes, packets of seed in the spring, calendars, basketball schedules, etc. There was also a schedule for calling people and taking them out to lunch periodically too.

I think I sent calendars the first year but did nothing else like that ever.

I wanted to be a realtor. To me, realtors did real estate work. Licking stamps and always looking for the next house to sell didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to show houses, answer questions, do research on values, give my opinions on houses and neighborhoods, negotiate deals and work them to the closing.

Many agents in my office thought I was crazy. And not just because I wore shorts all the time. They didn’t think I would make it since I didn’t do all the status quo things they did.

My plan was to just do a really good job for my people. I thought if you left the closing and they thought you did a good job, there was no need to keep reminding them you are still a realtor.

It worked obviously since here I am today, but I’ve got one special story to share.

15 years ago I sold a house for an elderly lady. I met her daughter too. I really liked them both. I closed several weeks ago on the daughter’s new house and am closing on her old house next week. I have not seen or talked to her since that closing back in 2006.

She went to a lot of trouble to track me down. I have since gotten my brokers license and stated my own business. She just remembered my name and the real estate company I was with back then.

I had forgotten how I met them so I recently asked. She told me her and her mother came to an open house I had in 2006. They didn’t like my listing, so I told them about all the other ones in the condo complex. I told them the good and bad of the whole complex as well as the good and bad of other ones that were for sale. She said she liked how helpful I was so they decided to use me to sell her mother’s house even though she had a good friend who was also a realtor.

I don’t feel old enough for that to have been 15 years ago, but it was. What an honor to be remembered by somebody after all that time.