I am writing more on my weight loss journey and beyond. And the process and keeping the weight off
I was in really bad health and deep, deep down I knew it. I had taken my physical health, like many men, as something that I could neglect and could take for granted. When I saw my primary physician in January 2010, he was not my friend. I was morbidly obese, with high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, with undiagnosed but very real sleep apnea.
My worst apnea episode was actually several months before. I awoke in the middle of the night, literally not able to breathe. I have an enduring memory of gasping for air, and my heart absolutely racing. It remains one the scariest episodes of my life.
My family physician (remember my not friend) approached me to seriously to consider weight loss surgery. Now I was against this for three reasons:
- There was an article in the local newspaper about gastric bypass and the how hard it was. It just sounded really horrible
- I knew it was not the real fix.
- It was really expensive and insurance would not cover it. I am a cheap sucker in many ways
So I pleaded with my doctor to give me a year – basically until my next annual. A set a really crazy goal to lose 100 pounds in a year.
The journey and perspective after
So lets jump to the end – I lost 100 pounds in 13 months. I realized I did not gain it overnight and I actually had a spreadsheet that project it would take me well over a year to lose it. In fact it was trending well over a year. But that was ok. I was perfectly fine with that. The chart said it would take until almost Thanksgiving which would have been 22 months – which is basically a pound a week. Which was reasonable.
So how did I lose 100 lbs in 13 months? Diet and exercise. It was more diet than exercise. I started slowly with both. I stopped drinking sugary sodas about 3 months in and that was huge. I watched portion sizes closely. Dessert – once a week and it was a big deal. I did have a weekly cheat meal which was important. It was not fadish but it was definitely lower in fat and sodium. I replaced lots of food while finding new favorites. A greek yogurt at night is a great snack.
Exercise – I started going to the gym which was extremely hard as big as I was. I would go 3 times a week and get on the recumbent bike for 30 minutes. It was a start.
I added what I thought was weight training (in retrospect that was not very useful). I used small goals – on the recumbent machine you had to enter your weight and I would enter something less than I weighed, with the goal to be able pretty quickly reduce that number on the machine. I found that I loved to bike and bought a used mountain bike (it was a pretty crappy one but worked for me). I loved that thing and would ride it a bunch. The summer of 2010 I lost 39 pounds, mostly while biking. I rode it everywhere.
That’s one of my keys to exercise – found what you like and do it. I still love to bike, and bike 3 to 4 times a week even today. As I got fitter, I took on new challenges. I fell in absolute love with spin class, it was my new vibe. Fact: I still attend spin class each week with my ATF trainer, and its an absolute essential part of my overall week. I do not miss this class and it is blocked on my calendar at work.
So as the weight came off, and I started to look slimmer, I started to expand my horizons. Each week I would weigh myself (I want to say Thursdays? ) and would post it on social media. I had fun with it – I would use old NFL players numbers to announce the weight goals. It was a little juvenile but it made it so much more for me.
So I made it – I lost the 100lbs. During this journey, I followed an acquaintance who was ahead of me. It was great inspiration and that was really important.
Now What –
Losing 100 lbs was in some ways the easy part. Keeping it off has been the challenge. Old habits are still there. I look like an addiction – this for me as a daily battle. I love food, I love sweets, I love brownies and man I could eat cheesecake for a meal every day. But each day I battle. Remember the acquaintance who was ahead of me – well he put it all back on and a little more. Great news is he has lost it all again. I cannot tell you how many celebrities of all types I have watched lose a bunch of weigh, look incredible and then put it all back.
First, I threw literally my entire closet away. I kept a few items as mementos but I went from XXL trending to XXXL to L in shirts while losing over a foot in the waist. I went from a closer full of clothes to basically nothing, and my chest of drawers was basically in half.
To keep myself over the last 8 years, I adopted a philosophy of do hard stuff. Hard stuff is totally defined by you – for me, it was a triathlon that killed me (now run it 8 years in a row winning my age group 3 times in a row). It was that first half marathon that seemed impossible (have now run 8 of them ). I still am trying to do hard things. My diet – it is an ongoing struggle. I have some great habits and not so good. I do not trust that even after 8 years of being at this weight that I am somehow permanently there – I have this weird expectation that with very little changes I will be right back there, despite promising myself that I would never will let that happen
My perspective on those struggling with their weight
My perspective is multi-dimensional. On a very personal level, I increasingly realize that I am somewhat of unicorn. Remember my physician who wanted the weight loss surgery. Well, we are on much better terms to the point he says when he sees me (which is usually once or twice a year) that he is inspired by me. Pretty sizable change in that relationship. In many ways, I am the unicorn. I know losing the weight is never as easy as I did it – if it was the whole diet industry would not be there.
So, on way have I have tremendous empathy for those who are overweight – feeling trapped in their bodies. I have not forgotten how it felt to be trapped, to desperately want to be smaller.
Yet when I see someone who is morbidly obese, eating ridicolous things and/or smoking as well, I get angry. Angry that they are not taking their health more seriously. Why – because I knew at over 300 lbs, I was ultimately being incredibly selfish. Selfish in not taking my health more seriously, not ensuring I was going to be around for my kids weddings, my grandkids being born, for those golden years. Yes cases are highly individualistic but largely saddens me. My wife’s cousin is in her mid-50s walking with a cane – just sad
Our physical health is not something to take for granted. Yes, I am not guaranteed even after losing 100lbs and keeping it off extra years. And my joints, well the damage there is done already. But I can do my best to ensure that I am not selfishly ensuring an early grave. Here is a weird bonus – when I went to up my life insurance policy amount, they actually lowered my annual rate by the same amount as I spend on one of my gym memberships. My agent says he is has never seen that In a real sense, my weight loss help pay for itself.