15 August 2012

How Harry Potter and Perry the Platypus changed my life

I am fat. In 10th grade, I weighed 155 lbs. By 12th grade, mostly due to weight lifting for football, I weighed 185 lbs. In the military, I was anywhere from 190 lbs to well over 200 lbs toward the end of my stint. Since then, I have added weight and at one point about two months ago was at least 325 lbs. I could have been higher. I avoided scales and pretended I was OK.

Those of you who have never had weight problems might rightly wonder how someone like me lets it get this way. Well, not to be flippant about it, but one day at a time, one pound at a time. The changes are so slow and gradual that you only notice them in passing. You start wearing an XL t-shirt, then a 2XL and then a 3XL. Over the course of a few years, it doesn't click. You keep buying pants with bigger waists, 2 inches bigger, then 2 more a few months later. Slow changes. It doesn't click.

Other people are bigger too. It's easy to just pass it off. Every's gaining weight. I am too. Maybe a little bit more than everyone else, but who's counting? You convince yourself that it's OK.

So what happens to convince you that changes are necessary? Surprisingly for me, it wasn't the big things. As an independent contractor, I couldn't buy health insurance because I was too fat. I had to pay for COBRA benefits. Anyone who's used it knows it's not cheap; you're paying 102% of the premiums of your previous employers health insurance (instead of 30% or whatever you normally pay) and it only lasts 18 months. That didn't seem to bother me!

In April we went to Florida. During one day at Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure, I was kicked off the Harry Potter ride because I couldn't fit in the damned seat. For the first time in my life, I was embarrassed of how fat I had become. Later that day, I saw a cool Perry the Platypus t-shirt that I couldn't buy because the biggest size they had was 2XL. Don't they make cool t-shirts for fat guys like me?!

So it wasn't the denial of health insurance. It was Happy Potter and Perry the Platypus that got me awake. Weird, huh? But does it really matter? I am awake!

Of course, going to the doctor for a routine checkup and being told you are diabetic is another wake-up altogether.

This is not a sad story. This is a story of hope. But it's not over.

Tracy and I started with the concept of reducing carbohydrates and sugar in our diet. Not eliminate it, not starve ourselves, no crazy diets, just reducing those two things. In fact, my doctor wanted me to make dietary changes and start losing weight before I even started working out again. So I haven't even gotten to that yet.

And you know what? It's working. I can control my blood sugar with my diet. This isn't just a momentary change, it's changing my life, for the better.

I started weighing myself at  325 lbs. That was two months ago. This morning I was 301 lbs. My first goal, to get under 300 lbs, is in sight. But don't cheer for me just yet. I have a long way to go. At least 100 more lbs, in fact. My end goal is under 200 lbs.

We are in this together and I could not do this without Tracy. I am doing this for Tracy and for Liz and Chloe and Michael (and Alf and Rosie, too) because I want to be there for them as long as I can. How could I possibly cheat them of years of my life?

A many number of people have taken a personal interest in seeing me succeed and you know you who are. You motivate me to continue because you help me understand why I'm doing it.

Sometimes the darndest things motivate people. :-)
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